Racing on the Fields of Norwalk

By Heidi Schulte (Sr. Athlete)

Most likely the least physically challenging course of our season, Norwalk has proved over the last few years to be a dreaded one…simply because of the mental weariness that it involves. Basically the course consists of weaving through and around soccer and baseball fields, and the only hills it includes are the short (and yet reasonably steep) inclines that lead the runners from one field to the next. Thankfully, our hosts did modify the trail a little bit, so our finish was much less discouraging. (Last year we had to run all the way past the finish, and loop, turning around to enter the final stretch.) Another positive aspect of running this course this year is that we have had the privilege of competing on it just one week before we will vie with the other teams in the Little Hawkeye Conference. This provided us with a great opportunity to get to know the re-arranged course and also better prepare mentally for the Conference race.

Similar to last year, we traveled to Norwalk on a fairly warm fall day. (Though it wasn’t quite so hot as 2006’s race.) However, heat does play an important role in the outcome of a runner’s performance and mental toughness/weakness was another key influence. Despite all these factors, we had some remarkable finishes: many runners dropped loads of time off of their previous course time, the Varsity and JV girls and boys all placed 2nd to Marshalltown (a 4-A school), and we had an athlete run a personal record (PR) as well—Kaitlyn Schaudt ran her best time by 24 seconds on Monday night!

For the Varsity and Junior Varsity boys, we saw excellent packing technique carried out, as you can tell by their close finishes, and as spectators could perceive by the fact that the top 5 Varsity athletes were running together in a line near the first mile of the race! Adding to that, the first 5 JV boys all placed in the top 10! These young men are definitely displaying what depth and consistency are all about—except for the fact that their individual finishing order never seems to stay the same for any one race! 🙂

The Varsity girls also showed a competitive streak in their 2nd place victory…only 3 places in front of Ballard, an accomplishment that was only brought about by a great team effort. As for the JV girls, their 39-point finish was astounding! They were led by Lauren Barrack, who placed 3rd surrounded by several 4-A runners. Because they too showed an amazing example of packing/running with teammates, they were able to place 13 points behind the Marshalltown champions, and 65 points in front of the 3rd place team.

As the season for nearly 2-thirds of our team is drawing to it’s close (only one week to go!), we are experiencing the joys of tapering (or are very close to doing so). The factor that Coach Cutler has reminded us of, however, is the mental aspect of this exercise…we have to believe in it! The intensity of these last few days and weeks will be strong, challenging, and exciting, but also, I pray, rewarding. We’ve come far in these past few months, yet we know that the best is still to come!