I started the season off at the Maine XC Festival of Champions on September 29. I decided to go to this meet because I wanted to get in an early race to get my confidence back after not racing track. This race was ideal since it was 5 km-my distance for nationals, it was close enough that I could drive down, it's fairly competitive with more than 600 high school aged girls in the race, and it had a reputation as a very well organised meet. The race went well and I placed second overall with a time of 18:28. It didn't feel awesome and I could tell that I wasn't super fit but more importantly, I knew that I was healthy again and ready for some solid training and racing.
With Nationals at the end of November, I really wanted to get in a 5 km race earlier in the month since I didn't have a lot of experience with that distance. Ontario can always be counted on for good competition and the Athletics Ontario Championship just happened to be two weeks before Nationals- perfect! It was a good race and I ran in a group for the first kilometre or so before we strung out and I ran most of the race on my own in second place. I moved into first just as we hit the last hill going into the finish line, winning the race in 17:45 and getting the confidence that I needed going into Nationals.
I met with a couple coaches in Vancouver but I stayed focussed on the race. I never really know what to expect going into races so my goal was just to be in the top six and get on the World Championship team. I knew it would be tough but I felt fit and thought that I could do it. I had a bad start and ended up stuck back in the 40s or so for the first kilometer. It was pretty congested and I felt like I was coming to a stop a few times as girls fell and bunched up around the turns. Going into the second kilometer I knew I had to work to get out of that mess of runners and I somehow made my way up to the lead group. We ran as a small group for a couple kilometers before a couple of the girls moved up and gapped us for a bit. On the last kilometer I bridged the gap and we all ran a hard finish and I took the win in 17:21. I had never even considered that I had a chance to win the race and I'm not gonna lie, when I crossed the line in first I was half confused and half shocked but once that wore off I was just beyond excited.
Overall it was an amazing season and I couldn't wait to represent Canada at NACAC and Worlds a few months later. I'll sum up those adventures in the next post! Wow, just remembering last year's cross country is getting me pumped to take on some new race experiences in the NCAA in the coming months, I can't wait!