XC Spotlight: Fatema Jaffer - Lake Mary

At under five feet, Lake Mary's Fatema Jaffer might not be the tallest on the cross country course. However, the Rams standout, who was 24th at the 4A Cross Country Finals last year, can be seen at the front of most packs, or out front in the lead. After placing sixth in the 3,200m at state Jaffer has continued that success into the fall. She has finished second, second, and third in her first three meets of this her senior year; running under 19 minutes the last two meets. Her time of 18:36.83 from the Spikes and Spurs Classic was a 25 second personal best, and is the seventh fastest time statewide. Find out more about Jaffer in this XC Spotlight.

How long have you been running and how did you get started?

I have been running since 5th grade, but I wasn't actually serious about it until 10th grade. I always loved to run. I would go off on two miles run with my dad when I was little, but it wasn't until 10th grade where I realized I need to focus more if I wanted to continue in college.
Do you remember your first real race?

My first real race was the mile in 5th grade. I remember I placed fourth. I still have that trophy in my room.
How was your summer training?

My summer training went really well I ended up with about 600 miles total. I ran twice a day three times a week and attended Seminole Trails Running Camp and Warrior Camp.Sundays are my off days so I make sure I cross train by aqua jogging and doing yoga! Over the summer I ran between 40-50 miles a week, but now because of races on Saturdays I run 30-40 miles a week.
What is your favorite workout?

My favorite workout are 200s at race pace. On our light speed days Coach Spielman makes us do 200s at our goal race pace with a 200 jog in between so we know what the pace is supposed to feel like.
Where will you be running the rest of the season?

This weekend we are running the SHS Invitational at Clermont, followed by the flrunners.com Invitational, Pre-State, and then the state series! 
Do you have a favorite course? What do you think is the toughest course in the state? 

My favorite course is at Chain of Lakes Park. Not only is it a fast course but I get to race against the fastest girls in the state and I love how much that pushes me. The hardest would have to be the Jim Ryun course (Holloway Park). It's filled with sandy hills.
Out of all your running accomplishments so far, which stands out the most?

My biggest accomplishment was when I was a sophomore and I qualified for regionals in the 3200m. I had gone on a two week religious trip before that and a lot of people thought I had no chance. Not only did I prove them wrong, I also proved myself wrong and PR'ed by 30 seconds and qualified for regionals. Ever since then, I realized that any goal is accomplishable with hard work and determination. 

What are your goals for the year?

My goals this year are to end my high school year without any regrets and just give it my all. I want to break 18 this season and have all of my hard work pay off. I'm looking forward to the state series because that's when it matters the most! 
What do you love most about running?

I love the feeling of accomplishing something I never knew I was capable of. The best part of it is that the goals are endless since there is always room to improve. 

The Low Down

We wanted to get in-depth and personal with Fatema. Check out the low down.

Do you have a favorite quote?

My favorite quote is "Fear represents hesitation and hesitation brings out your worst fears. Therefore, be strong because half of those people are going to be scared and half of them aren't. Which group do you want to be in?" -Coach Corkins 

Do you have any pre-race rituals or routines?

I have to dress up the day before the race and eat pasta at night. I have to make sure I don't sleep too much or too little and have my coach (Coach Spielman) go over my goals. The morning of the race I have to eat cereal (I've tried other things such as toast/bagel/cliff bar but I don't perform as well if I don't have my Cheerios). Go to the bathroom then warm up exactly one hour before the race.10 minute jog then dynamics. After, use the bathroom again, get a sip of Gatorade, take my inhaler (just in case), then put on my spikes. Arrive at the starting line 10 min before the race and do strides, a prayer, team chant, and some jumps. Then, it's go time! 
What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is BBQ!
What was the last movie you saw?

The last movie I saw was Hitch. It was my third time watching it but it never gets old because it's so funny 
What brand of shoes do you train/race in?

I train in Nike Structure 17s and race in Adidas XCS 5. My mentality has a lot to do with the shoes I wear. I have to race in pink spikes because when I was little I hated pink and I told myself I had to run so fast that the pink would fly off (of course I knew this wouldn't actually happen). Ever since then I've always had to wear pink spikes so I can "make the pink fly off", even though I love pink now.
If you could meet any athlete who would it be?

I would love to meet Billy Mills. I just learned about him this summer at Seminole Trails Camp and his determination and motivation has inspired me the most.
What is something most people don't know about you? 

I'll be a legal midget on November 2nd! I'm only 4'9.5! 
Lastly, if you were stranded on an island with three things what would they be?

I would bring a fishing pole so I can catch fish to eat, a compass to know where to go, and an unsinkable boat to escape the island!

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