Sunday, November 7, 2010

Feelin' the XC love

For the past two years, I've been a part of my school's Cross Country team and I have fallen in love with the sport. Now, a lot of people look at Cross Country and they're like, "It's just a bunch of boys (and girls) in short shorts running, right?" But it's SO much more than that. I won't go into all the details, but suffice it to say that it's a very fascinating and complex sport.

Here's just some basics for those of you newbies. In a Varsity race, you're allowed to run seven people. The top five finishers count, the sixth is an extra in case anyone doesn't finish, and the seventh is essentially just decoration. Each runner scores the number of points that corresponds to the number of their finish... So, if I finished 4th, that's four points for my team. The team with the least number of points wins. The rest of the team that's not the "Top Seven", as they're called, usually runs in a JV or sub-Varsity race. Or, at some races, everybody runs at once and just the top five finishers from each team are scored. Races are always separated into Boy's and Girl's, except in very special cases, like at this meet, there was a Freshman/8th Grade race and the boys and girls ran together. A standard high school XC race is a 5K, or 3.11 miles, but in college it gets bumped up to an 8K, or 4.97 miles. (The 5K is usually rounded down to 3.1 or sometimes even 3 miles, and the 8K is usually rounded up to 5 miles.) Got it?

My favorite thing about XC is that fact that the outcome of a race on any given day is unpredictable. I mean, you can predict a little bit, but when it comes down to it, it all depends on the weather, the course and what happens THAT day. And if you think you're winning, it all can change in a matter of seconds. Literally. I love the fact that if one runner on a team that killed you last week is having a bad day, you can smoke them and take home the gold.

Yesterday was our regional championship race, and our teams did fairly well. Our girls, who were 2nd coming out of the district (7 teams), finished 3rd overall in the region (16 teams) and are going onto STATES!!!! I am so excited for them (our top 10 runners that get to run in the state meet) and proud to be a part of the team. Our boys on the other hand, who were 1st in the district last year, and 2nd in the region were 11th today. It was kind of disappointing, considering we were beaten by several teams that we crushed last week at the District Championships, but it was a rebuilding year and we'll train hard and be unstoppable next year. (We lost five of our top seven last year.)

How did I run? Well, I didn't. And I haven't. Ever. It's kind of a sore subject for me. But next year, baby, I'm all over it.

My big brother, who doesn't go to my school, (he goes to the Governor's School, which essentially is a magnet high school for accelerated students from our county and several others around us) finished first for his team with a 5K time of 17:03. I know, right? He's pretty amazing. Actually, everyone on his team was just having a bad day... At least two of their top seven were running with stress fractures today, so, needless to say, they definitely weren't running their best. 

Cross Country is such an amazing sport, and it definitely separates the men from the boys, so to speak. And it's great for the people that aren't good at sports that require balls, like me! If your school has a team, I strongly reccomend that you check it out. I've learned so much about myself just through training and never racing, I can't wait to see what next season has in store for me!

Wishes for a lazy, relaxing Sunday!


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