The Bronco Invitational

Hello for the first and last time of my 2017 Cross Country season. Because my summer racing in Israel went so late into July, my coach and I thought it would be best for me to redshirt this season. In doing so, I’ve been having some of the best training of my life. I’ve been doing higher milage weeks, getting faster in my workouts, and being able to really push myself hard in training. The good part about this season is that it now gives me a fifth and final season in both cross and track for the 2018/2019 season. The downside is that I don’t have many opportunities to race this fall because of the distance to get to meets and the limited quantity of good meets. But I’m happy I got out to run the Bronco Invitational in Baylands Park this year.

This race is generally one of the quickest courses that the team will compete in for the season. It’s a great combination of dirt, a small patches of grass, and a little concrete that makes for a quick race. I was both excited and nervous to start racing so late into the season without having any sort of rust-buster. The race got moved up to 8:00 due to fear of poor conditions from the wildfires raging up north in Napa and Sonoma. I woke up with Bruce reminding me what I was born to do today and had my three pieces of peanut butter toast. I left my house and got the pitch black park at 6:25, waiting for the rest of the team to show up. Quickly thereafter we did our 20 minute warmup, some drills, strides, and headed over to the line for the start.

I got out really well in the race this year. I jumped around a little bit to not be boxed in for the first turn and went straight into the front. If you recall the last time I did that at the Mountain West Conference meet last year, I panicked a lot a dropped back fast. This time, I knew that I could run with the front of the pack and not be too far out of my league. I held the lead for just a little bit, and then merged in with the rest of the lead pack. The first lap was fine, and I knew where I needed to work a little bit. Last year on the second loop, with the little hills, I slowed down a little bit too much. This year I attacked the hills and moved into a good spot. Close enough to see the leaders, but not pushing myself above what I could handle. After the first of the three big loops, there was a little separation between where I was and the lead pack. I was pulling a couple guys along with me, but I closed that gap by the end of the second lap. The third and final lap was where I really started to put good work in. I was in about 13th or 14th place with a little over 1600 meters to go, when I started making my move. I caught up to Jose with abut 1200 to go and was sitting in 11th place. I was moving with an old high school rival of mine, UCLA’s George Gleason, and we were both using each other to bring that final push to the finish. We both moved up really well in the final 800 of the race and I just narrowly got ahead of him in the home stretch. I finished in a time of 23:48.3 in 6th place overall.

This is a really nice improvement from my 24:11 last season, and it makes me even more excited to see what I can do this spring on the track. This is the only real post of my  “cross country season” and I’ll also be running a 5k Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. I’ll have a nice posting about that race too. Until then, see you on the trails.

-Craig

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