Sunday, November 05, 2006

AJ at the State Championships

AJ ran well, but not as well as she wanted. She bettered her time from last year by 1 minute (22:53 to 21:53), but the overall competitiveness of the race was higher than last year and she finished in 89 / 166. Her goal was top 25 at the beginning of the season, then last week top 40.

It was cold (40s) and raining during some of the race. She felt she could’ve and should’ve gone out faster, as she feels she was blocked by several groups of runners during the race. She had a good effort on Firehouse Hill, passing 7 girls, but as she entered the last mile, her hands became increasingly painful, cold and swollen. Ah, but for a pair of gloves!

Her team finished 8th; they had hoped for a top 4 placing. Their top runner AR, a junior who had finished 28th as a freshman, finally made All-State (top 25) and finished 15th. AJ stayed for the medal ceremony and said is has really motivated her to work for the top 25 next year.

Racing is much different than just running a time and she knows that. There are so many variables you cannot control: opponent's elbows, cold rain, false starts, sub-optimal starting box position, slower groups impeding your ability to pass. There is lots of room for technical improvement for AJ: shorter stride length, increased stride frequency, better running economy overall. She needs to and can really improve her overall speed too. I'm not sure if she's ever going to be one that goes out fast and hangs on, but that seems to be the strategy of the leading pack. In my mind, that's what she's going to have to do to finish in the top 25 next year. If she can develop the ability to stay with AR throughout the entire race...like Vern says: the person who wins is the person who slows down the least.

It will be interesting to see what she does over the rest of the year. She’s debating track season. Na├»ve me thought all cross country runners relished running the mile and two mile! Boy was I wrong! I know she will continue to work on her general strength and power, which she has come to enjoy. Now, the kicker is to get her to work on those pacing/bounding/speed technique drills that really push her neuromuscular comfort zone.

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