The past couple weeks I have been transitioning back into my normal routine of school and running. So far school has been fantastic and running even more so. I started out my senior cross country season at the Caloosahatchee Regional Park in Ft. Myers. Although it was a small meet, it was nice to be able to run against great competition. The course was not in the best shape since South Florida was getting hit by remnants of Hurricane Erika, but I was happy with my time. The first race of a season is always a bit nerve wracking, but my goal for this season is to be in the low 18's and, after getting this race under my belt, I feel like my goal is attainable.
After that first race, the jitters that I had dissipated. I now remembered what it felt like to compete on a cross country course. Going into my next race I felt more prepared. I was thrilled that I was getting one more opportunity to run at the DDD Invitational, which is one of my favorite races on this planet. My race this past Saturday was at the Estero Community Park, which houses one of the biggest hills I have ever seen in south Florida. And, if you thought a huge hill smack dab in the middle of the course was not enough, try throwing in sandpits and hay bales! Yes, this course may seem more like an obstacle course rather than a cross country course, but the obstacles thrown at you only make you a better runner. Instead of trying to get a PR, my goal at this course was to compete. I knew I had my work cut out for me, especially if I was going to have to run against an amazing team like Estero.
This race meant a lot to me, also, because of the loss of Estero's Coach Jeff Sommer. Although he was not my coach, I had the privilege of practicing with him and his amazing team several times. The passion he had for the sport was unlike anyone I have ever met. He pushed you to your limits, and made you believe in yourself. Just surviving some of his workouts made me feel like I was on top of the world. The night of the state track meet, he texted me a few paragraphs stating how proud he was of me for medaling. When I found out about his passing the next morning, I made sure to save our last conversation on my phone, since what he said to me was so inspiring.
After winning the DDD Invitational, the feeling I had was surreal. My team placed 3rd and we all ran well. It was a beautiful day. I felt proud that I had no regrets on the course and that I got to win a race dedicated to such a great man