This week started off with a great run in the rain on Monday afternoon. We did not have practice because of the holiday, but a few of us met to run together anyway. Joseph, Ethan, and Kamau were there, as was Arash and Jorge Villareal, who runs on the MSU Cross Country team. It was awesome to have Jorge out there with us! We ended up running about 7 miles or so, with the first mile at about 7:15, then we gradually sped up until reaching the Sanderson Center area, where we picked up the pace further. I was wanting to go at tempo pace for about 3 miles, and I thought we did a pretty good job with that. Joseph did an excellent job today and was far ahead of the rest of us. Of course, Jorge was simply doing an easy run, as he had a long run coming up the next morning with the MSU team. His easy pace was about what my tempo pace was! It was a crazy day to run with the wind and rain, but the cooler temps made it feel wonderful.
Tuesday found us at the North Farm, where the kids again did 1000m intervals. The varsity boys did 6 of them today, and for the most part, they did a great job. Joseph and Kamau did 4 really good ones (between 3.00 and 3:08 minutes), but two were slower, probably 3:20ish. Joseph looked a little out of it, maybe was not hydrated enough, but somehow was able to run pretty anyhow. Kamau looked better than usual, which was good. Aaron did a much better job with the 1000’s this week also. I ran with the JV boys today, who I thought did not put forth enough effort at the Memphis race. However, today, they all did a good job today! The girls all ran well too, so the day was successful. We followed the 1000’s by some fast hills.
On Wednesday, Joseph got in an early run in the morning. That afternoon, we ran in Long Meadow neighborhood, McKee Park, and down Industrial Park Road going various distances between 6 and 9.5 miles depending on who it was. Joseph, Kamau, and Arash (who ran with us today) went the farthest. I ran with the other varsity boys for 6 miles, then Stuart showed up late, and I ran with him for another 3 miles or so. Everybody looked pretty good, and both Kamau and Aaron again did a much better job than earlier in the season. Of course, Ethan and Joseph again were as steady as ever! Damian and Stuart have really picked up the pace this year too. I don’t know for sure how everybody did, but they all seemed to be running along pretty well. Steve Shaffer paced the better girls and next group of guys, which he has been doing this year. I think that is really helping them.
On Thursday we met at the South Farm where most of the kids did 400m repeats on a hilly section of the gravel road (of course most of the South Farm is hilly). The varsity boys ran with me to the MSU Cross Country course where most of them did a 30 minute tempo run, except Joseph and Kamau, who did a fartlek based run (since they had already done a tempo on Monday). They all did pretty good, with Joseph and Kamau really pushing each other, and Aaron doing a nice tempo run. Ethan also ran pretty good.
On Friday, we went to the high school and ran in the neighborhood, etc. Again, varying distances for different people, don’t know what everyone did, but Joseph got in 8 good miles. I did not think that this was Joseph’s best week, but he did pretty well even so. And, overall, I thought this was one of the best weeks of practice the team as a whole has had – top to bottom, boys and girls – maybe ever! Kamau and Aaron Remotigue really stood out this week as working harder than they had been, and I really think this might have been the best string of practice days in row that either of them have ever had. Yes, ever! That was great, because they had not previously showed this level of effort or commitment, and we really need it! Alex Ross was down a little early in the week due to being sick, but he also picked it back up later. Damain Grady, who is really putting forth some great effort this year, was a bit sore from a sore achilles strain and mild shin splints, but after wrapping his achilles a few days, he seems to have recovered. And, with a new pair of training shoes, his shins also seem much better! I think the varsity guys are starting to smell a state championship ring. But, they all will have to continue this effort for almost two more months to get that.
On Saturday, several of us met at the MSU Cross Country course at 4 pm to run the course. Steve Shaffer joined us, and surprisingly, Christian Kingery, Patrick Bell, and Jacob Wood showed up! Anyway, after a warm up run, we ran the course. It was pretty warm, and the course was much harder than I remembered. We basically ended up running the course at a tempo pace, too hot to push a race pace! I wish more people had joined us, because I don’t think most of them realize or remember how hard this course is! The hill is nasty, and the varsity boys have to do it twice! I think Joseph was glad he ran it, just to remember the overall layout and know how hard it will be to run a fast race there.
We got up early Sunday morning and met at the South Farm parking area for a 10 mile run. Kamau and Damian joined Joseph and I. We went through the campus, downtown, to Airport Road, Industrial Pk. Rd, back through McKee Park, then back to the South Farm. We got through at about 1 hour and 15 minutes after having ran 10.3 miles. We ran a 7:25 mile average, which was okay, but a good bit slower than what Joseph and I had been doing. But, it was nice to run together, and we did run the second half faster than the first, so that was good. It was a beautiful morning to run and only about 60° or so! When we got back, Stuart Woomer and his dad Mark were at the parking area. Apparently, we just missed them, so Stuart ran the South Farm and Mark rode his bike with him. I am pretty bad about not waiting for folks when we meet for runs. I am always early, so I guess I expect everybody else to be, and when its time to go, I usually take off! But hopefully, next week we can get on the same schedule and run together, and with Ethan Musser as well. Ethan did not join us today because he had food poisoning from some bad food at Wendy’s in West Point. Supposedly, he lost almost 10 lbs yesterday! Next Sunday, I hope to have all 5 of these guys out there for this 10 mile run, as they are currently the top five varsity runners for SHS. I am hoping we can get Aaron Remotigue out there with us some day, as he is currently our 6th runner and it would be great to have all of the best varsity boys running together whenever possible. After running, Joseph and I joined Kamau and Damian at McDonalds for breakfast, which was cool.
Tomorrow, back to the Starkville High for a semi-easy run. Next Saturday, we will be running at the Mississippi State Invitational, which will be held at the MSU Cross Country Course on Poorhouse Road. The MSU guys run first at 8 AM, followed by the MSU girls, then the high school varsity boys (9:30), varsity girls(10:15), junior high boys (10:45), and junior high girls (11:15).