Pam Staton, a senior cross country runner at Loyola, is the Women's Cross Country correspondent for the HLN Blog.
Cross country season is now in full swing!
This past week we had blue skies, crisp mornings, and gloriously warm afternoons. Autumn is definitely upon us. Jogging barefoot on the wet turf and seeing the leaves while running on the Lakefront path never fails to make my heart pump faster. Ahhhh...cross country season!
To me cross country is the ultimate "team sport". Everyone toes the same line and runs the same race; feels the same pain, gets the same rewards, and has the same responsibility to run for each other.
Before our race at Illinois State, most of our team took a fan bus to Toyota Park to watch our men's soccer team play against St. Louis. FREE T-shirts and Chipotle before the game topped off a great time! Despite the tough loss, the game was still a blast and the guys on our team showed some true school spirit and team pride by wearing LU jerseys and cheering boisterously.
The team pride seemed to hold true as we put together another strong showing at the Illinois Intercollegiate Championships hosted by Illinois State. We finished in second place and the men took fifth. We went out harder and really got to race this meet, but it was also considered more of a tune up before the big races of the season.
Jen Rock and I finished in the top ten finishing sixth and eighth with times of 18:14 and 18:21. My teammates Jessie Morganthal and Jena Brown were very close behind and finished 12th and 13th running 18:24. Freshmen Gina Valgoi, Holly Rhode, Catherine Crisler, and Kelly Egan also ran very well for their second collegiate race. Afterward, I had this unexplainable feeling. I was really happy that we ran so well as a team, raced with a lot of heart, and helped push one another throughout the race. By the way, a big thanks to Alison Rack and Gen Binnie for being all over the course!
After our race, we talked about some future team goals and ran around the course on our cool down to cheer on the men's team. Ryan Kuphall and Ben Reifenberg finished 12th and 13th running 24:59 and 25:00 for the 8k. Josh Stein ran 25:20, good for a 17th-place finish. Very impressive! The rest of the men were close behind and ran with a great deal of heart. Everyone is so talented.
On Tuesday night, Jen Rock, Jessie Morganthal, Jena Brown, and I went on a fun, frolicking and frivolous run in downtown Chicago. We ran some 30-second and 1-3 minute pickups, each taking turns calling out the interval. We ran through Grant Park and the Lakefront Park south of Soldier Field in the heart of the city. It was amazing! The warm summer night and scenic views made it feel like I was on vacation. Both of our teams have been training really hard. I really am inspired by the men's team...their discipline, perseverance, and humor. I learn from them day in and day out. Everyone is so determined and strong...such a great group!
I was also made aware that our sprint crew went for a distance run with us last Thursday. I had class during that time and surely would have loved to be around all my track loves. I need to give a shout-out to Devin Gosberry and Liz Butler because they are always in my heart, make me smile endlessly, and bring joy to my day!
Another heads up — how can I forget — the 2009 Chicago Marathon coming up in 2 weeks on October 11th. Each year our team volunteers to help work the event, and it's a great experience! The day before the race is also something I really look forward to. Last year, some teammates and I (Jen Rock, Ned Brady, and Danny Docherty) went to the Marathon EXPO and took full advantage of all the free Clif Bar samples and Gatorade products they give away. Yet the running attire always seems to excite me the most. I did some serious damage to my wallet! I always get accused of spending too much money and buying too many new workout clothes, but...WHATEVER! Hopefully this year I can control my shopping...I'll have to tell you about it in my next HLN Blog entry. The plan is to bring empty backpacks and fill âem up. We're crossing our fingers that they will be giving out more Gatorade chocolate and strawberry shakes. But, just in case there aren't as many goodies as last year, I believe Jen Rock has volunteered to make us all some kind of dessert in the near future since she keeps asking Nolan Fine and Jim Winings for her baking sheets. Haha...we'd all love that!
Next up is the Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational at Montrose Beach this Saturday, October 3rd. This is our home meet and I am getting PUMPED for it. We all really look forward to this event...being able to see family, friends, alums...and of course, racing well!
Go LUXC Ramblers!!!