Sept. 20, 2011
Editor's Note: Cross country junior Conor Phelan will take some time over the course of the 2011 season to share his thoughts and experiences in an ongoing blog that offers readers an inside look into life as a Spider both on and off the course. Below is his third entry of the season.
Another week has come and gone, and with it our second meet of the season. Following two good weeks of training, the team geared up for the William and Mary Cross Country Invitational. This would be the second time already this season that we would go head-to-head with the Tribe. After having suffered a narrow defeat on our home course, everyone on the team was itching for another faceoff with the Tribe. And for the freshman, this would be their first-ever 8K cross country race.
We traveled to the course early Saturday morning in the midst of a light rain and chillier temperatures; the past few weeks of temperatures ranging from mid 80s to 90s. But a cool 65 degrees and rain is what cross country runners live for, and it was certainly evident in the ensuing race. Much like our home course, the William and Mary course is a series of repeated loops but with more hills and some sharp turns thrown in. This really makes the Tribe's course a grind.
When all was said and done, the Tribe had run their way to another close victory over the Spiders. But the day was not a complete loss. There were without a doubt two performances that stuck out in my mind. Fellow junior Jason Skipper put forth a spectacular effort to run an impressive and certainly promising time, covering the 8K course in a mere 25 minutes and 8 seconds. His time placed Jason second in the race overall for the second-consecutive meet this season.
I happen to live in the same hometown as Jason, and this summer I was lucky enough to be able to train with Jason a fair amount. Knowing that he has had some unfortunate nagging injuries in the past, it was obvious that he was going to take advantage of his good health this summer and get in the best shape of his life. His dedication and superb training has allowed him to run two very fast times already this season and certainly makes me excited to see what he can do in the coming months of competition.
The second performance that truly stuck out in my mind was the effort put forth by freshman Matt Groff. In the first 8K cross country race of his life, he flew to a magnificent time of 26:19. While Matt has never run past the 5K mark, he seemed to only pick up the pace after the three-mile mark and fought hard to hold off a William and Mary runner in the final minutes of the race. Matt is definitely someone to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
In general, the team seems to be trying to get through this next week since it has become one of those weeks where every professor on campus has scheduled an exam or assigned a paper. This suits us well though as we will take this week to both train hard and study hard before heading into next week's Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh, where we are all very excited to race.
It certainly feels like cross country season now that temperatures are dropping. The classic smell of fall has started to permeate the air and a hot cup of tea or apple cider really hits the spot while studying in the evening. Now is the time that we use our foundation of summer training to switch our bodies into the next gear as the competition becomes fiercer and fiercer.Wish us all luck on our exams this week, and I look forward to getting back to you all in a few days!
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