XC recap

Emma joined the legendary Panther XC program this fall, running as a junior high athlete.  Junior high races in Iowa are typically two-mile courses; Emma did some light running this summer and participated in swim team, but really didn’t have a robust training program. In fact, Grandpa Marshall was still able to beat Emma in an August 5k just before the season started.

Her first meet was our home meet; it’s a flat and fast course that she ran in 15:12.  Her next few races would be similar, staying in that 7:35 – 7:45 minute/mile pace.

Joel and I really felt that she could achieve a quicker pace; she looked around a lot during races, did not appear taxed during or after her races, and wasn’t improving in her pace.  I took her to the home course one weekend to run some pace work, and she easily ran 400 meter repeats at a 7:00 minute/mile pace.

Just after our 400m repeat workout, Emma ran a 14:19 on a very short 2 mile…more like 1.8 miles.  We didn’t tell Emma, instead using this new PR to help drive her confidence.  Another weekend pace workout followed, where Emma ran a sub-7:00 mile for the first time in her life.  Her next and final meet was her conference meet; she ran a 14:20 on a legitimate two-mile course, in a packed co-ed race.  Their team finished first.

She nearly missed the race, though, after encountering a large line in the first bathroom and sprinting across the course to a second bathroom facility.  Emma has much room to improve, in practice, pre-race and during the race.  But, to drop from a 7:35 pace to a 7:10 pace during the course of the season is a huge accomplishment!

Emma made some great friends on her team, and they plan to start training for some 5ks to keep them in shape until track season.  She really did enjoy her season – the camaraderie, the pasta supper, socialization on the bus and during practice, etc.  I hope that she finds some sort of aerobic workout – whether swimming, running or kickboxing – to be an integral part of her lifestyle as she grows.

And Grandpa, I hope you enjoyed that Palo 5k. That is probably the last time you will ever beat Emma in a race! I hope I have two more summers before she eclipses me!