Saturday, November 16, 2013

Notes from the Fall, 2003

This Fall is 10 years since my most memorable season of running-- my senior year at St. Michael's College.  This past weekend, a member of the St. Mike's women's XC team qualified for the DII Nationals, making her the 2nd runner in school history to do so, after me in 2003.  With the gears of nostalgia turning, and at a time where my running goals have finally shifted from roads and XC, I present pages from my scrapbook from that Fall.  (The files are huge and I don't know how to make this look better. They require some scrolling.  So be it.)

Liner notes: I'm embarrassed by the person I was in 2003.  However, for better or worse, I fully seized Fall 2003 as an opportunity to shuck all other responsibility and focus on the cross-country season.  For the 2nd of 3 summers, I went to Colorado to train at altitude. I ignored schoolwork to focus on running.  I had been racing since I was 10, but had only just a year earlier decided to really "be a runner" by training year-round.  So this Fall was a culmination and a step forward.  We ran all over the mountains and dirt roads of Northern Vermont, we raced typically ridiculous Vermont courses (mountain races? trail races?), and in the end Coach Joe and I earned a trip to Nationals.  It was 3 months of tunnel vision (myopia?) that is only possible once, and only in the cocoon of college.  My life, and running, is much richer now than it was then, but Fall 2003 was a high-water mark that seems more weighty with each passing year.

The season officially began at the SMC Invitational. The course (at a venue no longer utilized due to logistical concerns) had epic views of the Green Mountains and repeatedly climbed/descended fields and trails; a brutal course. I high-fived Joe at the finish. This was my 1st of only 2 collegiate wins, the 2nd being a home tri-meet with UVM and Lyndon State; a duel with the top UVM runner generated my still-standing 8k XC PR.
An ankle injury set me back a good week or two, and I thought my shot at Nationals was over. My first race back was the Vermont State Meet. Yes, Vermont is so small that the colleges team up to do a state meet, a la high school XC. It's glorious. I ran like crap, off my game. (My ankle injuries of yesteryear were grotesque; while I still twist 'em once a year, I rarely turn my whole foot black and blue anymore. With the recent exception of Mt. Greylock 2013.) I was back in form for the Conference meet in Syracuse.
Regionals at Franklin Park (the famous 10k course-- ~100 meters short, in Boston) was a race I thought about for 2 years. It was probably one of the better races of my life. I wish I could respond to pressure that well every day. The clipping from the school paper demonstrates my (purposeful) ridiculous verbiage, and if you read between the lines, a bit of disdain. Note that my musical tastes have not changed.
Joe and I caught a flight to North Carolina for nationals. My dad flew down secretly; other friends (below) drove to attend; Larry Kimbal (SMC women's coach) joined us as well. I was a well-supported runner. The race went well, though I suffered tremendously, due probably to being 3 or 4 weeks out from real mileage, as we had peaked for Regionals in a desperate bid to just get to Nationals.
A montage of the scene at the race. Lower right-- me and coach Joe, who is to this day my #1 running advisor.

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