Running with the Vikes, Part Two: An XC Season Recap

Over 21,300km of travel, 10 flights and two ferry trips, plus countless numbers of Cliff Bars consumed (the majority consisting of Oatmeal Raisin, with a dash of Chocolate Almond Fudge flavours thrown in just to change things up) later, the 2018 Vikes Cross Country season came to an end this past weekend, and what a ride it was.

First, I must apologize for the delay in getting back to you, MyUVic Life! If you can’t tell, besides the fact that with all this travelling I may need to sign up for a frequent flier plan next year, I have been under enormous mountains of stress to keep up with school, work, and athletics.

Nonetheless, I still want to give you a recap, and glimpse into the whirlwind that my life has been over the past three months.

As I recapped in my latest blog post, the cross country season officially began back in the midst of the dog days of August in the parking lot of Elk/Beaver Lake and ended on the muddy, sub-zero plains of Kingston, Ontario last weekend.

Once track season ended last summer, I switched my focus entirely to this cross season in hopes of replicating my performances from last year. I have to admit I was initially terrified of trying to duplicate those results—39th at U Sports Nationals, Second Team Canada West All-Star, and a 7th place at Athletics Canada Junior Nationals.

Feeling the pressure of high expectations, I started to run higher mileage than I have ever done in my life. Seven hour weeks of running turned into eight, 100km weeks morphed into 125km and higher. I was attempting to push my body to the limits, in search of reaching my full potential. 

I guess that’s the beauty of sport, or any other extra-curricular activity in general. Finding out the limits to your potential, and seeing whether you can push through those boundaries.

For some, it may be hoisting up thousands of basketball shots in the gym, strumming the strings of an acoustic guitar in a studio, or practicing math equations from a textbook. But somewhere, someone is pouring their time and energy into a passion of theirs to improve. And that’s truly something special, which I think gets overlooked in the day to day grind of life.

For me, almost as exciting as the race itself is the buildup and training leading up to it. I get ecstatic seeing the progress of workout times and splits while filling out my log.

I know I probably sound like a complete nerd right now, but it’s true! There’s something satisfactory about writing in a successful long run, workout times, or kilometres run in a week that genuinely fires me up.

So, back to the main story at hand, after a solid 10th place finish at the Stanford Invitational we return home to compete against local schools at our home meet down at Beacon Hill Park.

With the experience of crushing workouts on the trails of Beacon Hill, and our home fans yelling and screaming at us from the sidelines, we were able to beat both UBC and Trinity Western to finish atop the standings on home turf. The whole race we ran as a pack, and were able to grab the winning score by placing four runners in the top 10 and six in the top 16.

Using that as momentum we rolled into the BC Championships with a second in the team standings, with six Vikes finishing in a row from 15 to 21st overall. Another great example of pack running, which emerged as a huge theme to the season.

Although U Sports didn’t go as planned, a disappointing 10th place finish in the country, I can say wholeheartedly that this was a season I’ll never forget. I never have had so much fun being a part of a group of guys who work so hard to not let each other down, and sprint to catch up with their teammates to keep our goal of running as a pack intact.

For me, personally, I was overjoyed with my successes on the course. After a sixth place finish at the UVic Invite, 15th place result at BC’s, along with a finish of 29th overall and Second Team All Canada West conference selection at U Sports, I travelled to Athletics Canada Nationals to compete against some of the top Senior runners in the country.

Graduating up from the Junior ranks by turning 20 last year, I found myself starstruck to be toeing the line with former and current Canadian NCAA D1 stars and Olympians. However, I was thrilled to place 51st at ACXC Nationals, and even more excited for the prospect of outdoor track and next cross country season.

It was a long season, with hours of travelling, waiting at airports, and training (approximately 120 hours, after counting up the times in my log), but it was another great year of building towards the future with our young team core. I look forward to getting some redemption this time next year in Kingston for 2019 Nationals!

Good luck with exams UVic, and until next time,

Josh

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