Milesplit Cross Country Journals
Ammar Moussa returns this season as one of the top distance runners in the country. Last year Ammar earned a spot on the USA JR National XC team qualifying for the World Championships in Poland. While there he finished 5th for the USA team. Follow Ammar for the next few months as he journals about his final cross country prep season.
Journal Entry #1
(Sr., Arcadia High School, CA)
Journal Entry #2 (September 28, 2010)
This week we’re flying up to Palo Alto for the prestigious Stanford Invitational. This year’s Stanford Invite is going to be a little harder for us considering that we have a league meet on a very hilly course on Thursday then have to fly out the next day up to Palo Alto. But we’re trained for that kind of thing and we have no worries. It’s not like Saturday is Nationals or State…its just Stanford Invite.
(Photo left: Ammar Moussa in the lead in the final stretch at the Stanford Invitational.)
Today was the day we do our intervals on. We have a park just a mile away from our school which is big enough to have a 3 mile course that coach designed. He’s also figured out a way to get 3 different 800 meter loops, which is where we do almost all of our intervals. It definitely saves our legs up, and though we run a little slower, its definitely worth it, rather than ripping our legs apart on the track. Today’s workout is 6x1mile at 85% with 3 minutes rest. Coach previously handed out a chart that has on it the paces that we’re supposed to be running based on mile goal. Today I’m running 4:55s. After me, Sergio Gonzales and Allen Leung are running 5:01-5:03 and then we have a pack of almost 8 guys running 5:15s. Those are our top guys and then we have groups who are doing less and at a slower pace. Today, I felt really smooth and went 4:56-4:55-4:51-4:55-4:48-4:40. Everyone behind also run their own pace if not faster and as a team we had a really good workout.
This workout for us is not meant to be hard, or meant to kill us. Not at all. It is meant to tax us, and once we feel ourselves approaching that red line we’re expected to know what’s going on and not cross that line. At the end of the workout we’re looking to feel good enough to be able to run another repeat at the same pace and still be able to do it comfortably. If not, then we might have to adjust the goal. It’s a process that involves constant feedback between the athlete, the coaches, and the athlete’s body.
Today was a really good team workout and we’re looking for a good league meet on Thursday.
Today is our first of three league meets this season. I know a lot of the country does straight duel meets, but in California we run league meets, and then score it between teams a duel meet. In our league we have 8 teams, some of them with some good tradition behind them, and one team with a pretty good individual. Today the race is held at Griffith Park, a fairly hilly course, and a place you’ve surely seen in movies. But today it is the place of our league meet and we were looking to run as easy as possible while still getting a good hill workout in. We were able to do that, and work on some pack running in the process, having our B team guys run together in the JV race, and our A team runners 2-4 run together, and our numbers 5-7 run together also. We were able to win pretty handily without taxing ourselves too much.
The real battle today was for our frosh-soph guys, who have won the league title the last 15 years or something like that. It’s been a long time. But today Burbank stepped up as the latest of the long list of challengers and proved to be one of the toughest today. Burbank took the race out hard, running a pack of 6 right behind our number 2 man, and ahead of our number 3. And they continued to do this until the 2mile mark, at the top of the longest, hardest hill on the course. From there it is literally all down hill to the finish line. But right then and there, when the entire team started getting loud and rowdy is when our boys started rolling. They started moving up in droves, the finish line, where we went 1-2-4-5-8 in duel meet scoring to beat Burbank. We were definitely happy for our teammates but we quickly looked towards Saturday where we have the Stanford invite for some of us, and Dana Hills for the rest of the team.
Today was the Stanford Invite, and though we get to miss a day of school this trip is all business. We brought up 14 guys, one team in the seeded race and one team in the regular varsity race. After warming up, the seeded guys heard the news that our B team won the varsity race by 50 points and we got excited. We knew that was a good sign and we just wanted to get out there and race. Problem was we all felt a little sluggish because of the hill workout we had on Thursday and the heat was getting to us. So we decided to pour water on ourselves. One of my teammates handed me a water bottle and I started pouring it all over myself. But this water had a strangely sweet smell. It smelled like….lemon lime. It smelled so good that I decided I wanted a taste of this new water that I had never tasted before. It turned out it was Gatorade and I could already feel myself getting sticky and I was pretty upset. I kept myself in check, asked for water, and showered in that before getting on the line. For some reason my teammates found it funny. They just couldn’t stop laughing. It was not funny. Actually it kind of was and it took a while for me to focus on the task at hand.
Once the gun went off it was serious business again and we immediately got out because we had an inside box so we needed to get out fast. We got out hard, and I looked to get to the front as soon as possible. I got out and took the race out in 4:35 not concerning myself with anybody else in the race but me. By mile 1 I was alone and I just made sure I kept hammering from there on. But I wanted to know how our team was doing. With 1k to go the course made a U-turn and I was able to see the rest of the field. I saw that Sergio (photo right; Sergio Gonzalez) was closing on 3rd hard, Ryan Vargas and Allen Leung were running together as our 3rd and 4th, and we had 5 really close behind. I couldn’t hide a smile and right away a parent yelled “Your team is doing GREAT!” From there I knew it was the clock against us and we made sure we hammered until the finish line. I was incredibly excited to turn around and see that Sergio was finishing second and just watching our team stream across the line, having 5 guys in the top 16..............I knew we had won. It was really exciting to run that fast and know we had so much more left in us. We found out we scored 33 points to second place’s 141 and we just felt dominant. This season is sure to be a good one. T-minus 63 days.
This week we’re taking off from our varsity guys, but I have my first college visit this weekend. Hopefully I can check in next week and let you know how it went, but if not we’ll be running the Clovis Invite the week after that and that is sure to be a good one!! Thanks for reading!