Milesplit XC Journal: Ammar Moussa Journal #3

 Milesplit Cross Country Journals  

Ammar Moussa returns this season as one of the top distance runners in the country with a US#3 ranking.  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.

World XC Daily Blog

Journal Entry #1

Journal Entry #2



Ammar Moussa

(Sr., Arcadia High School, CA)


Journal Entry #3 (October 17, 2010)



Well you guys sorry for the missed journal but I’ve been super busy with school, and college visits, and of course running. But I'll include some of the missed week on this journal. This week we have the Clovis invitational...and this is probably the second biggest meet inCalifornia behind Mt. Sac. The meet is run on the State Meet course and is a good chance for teams and individuals to see where they match up with some of the other top teams from all over the state, and not just the Southern Section. We can’t wait!


Monday Sep 27

Today was a record hot day in SoCal. It was incredibly hot. When practice was supposed to start it was 113 degrees according to my friend’s car. My computer said it was 112. Our school didn’t let us run our long run. Telling us to not run a long run is like telling a hungry person to not eat and we would have none of it. So the captains recommended that the team show up at 6:30 at night to get our run in, and surprisingly we had really good turnout. But it was surprisingly still hot, but we managed. When I got home at 9 it was still 93 degrees. Crazy.


Tue Sep 28

            Today was still incredibly hot, and on the schedule was 8x1000s. This time Coach met with us at 6:30 at the park to get our repeats done. Today was the first day that we started phase 2 of our training, which meant that we had to run a bit faster than we had been running. We calculated what we were supposed to be running, and I found out after the math that I was supposed to be running 2:47. That shocked me, because I had never done repeats so fast, but then I realized that if I wanted to accomplish the big goals in mind, that I definitely had to work harder. After a good warmup, and some strides and drills we set off. As it was the first time we this season we were running phase 2 workouts we definitely had a little trouble hitting our splits. It was hard for us to get a rhythm at such a fast pace and after we had been feeling comfortable at the slower pace for the last couple weeks. Coach saw that we were struggling and decided to cut the last one. My splits were 2:53-2:54-2:53-2:55-2:51-2:52-2:49 with 3 minutes rest. This is a workout that I know will definitely help me and my team accomplish the goals we have in mind.

 Thursday Sep 30

 Today we ran a nice 5mile threshold run at 85%. Not much to say about it, it was just a way for me to get a decently hard run. Some of you may ask what 85% is and I'll tell you, but a little informally. I really hate running with a watch. Let me say this again. I HATE RUNNING WITH A WATCH. I feel that some runners have definitely become a slave to the watch and always want to know what pace they're running and worry if they're off. My personal philosophy is that running is a thing that has to be done by feel, and I never run with a watch (until Coach threatens me with cleaning the locker room). So for me, this kind of a threshold run should feel easy enough where I could be able to talk to someone...but hard enough so that I wouldn't want to. Its hard to explain. I guess the term I use when explaining to my teammates is "comfortably hard". But Coach told me that my goal was to run 5:35s. I ran 5:38-5:34-5:33-5:27-5:23 feeling good the entire time. Not a taxing workout, but definitely good work.


Monday Oct 4

       Another threshold run today, this time only 4 miles but a little faster. The goal for me today was 5:15s, but I had to do it on my own as I was on my first college visit. This time I actually had to use a watch but only to take splits and nothing else! Believe me! haha. But for some reason I felt like I couldn't run smoothly and my stride was choppy. I use checks on my breathing to see how hard I'm working, and my breathing was definitely fine and normal for the kind of work I was doing. My legs just felt like...poop. I still went 509-510-507-509 which was decent but I wish my legs felt better. Worrying me for Clovis.

Wednesday Oct 6th

   So I guess because God decided to make up for the 113 degree weather 2 weeks ago by sending a rain storm. And it always happens to be raining hardest when its time to do our workout and stops raining right when we finish. No problem. Whatever it takes to get tougher. That sounds really good in words...but frankly it sucks running on a muddy, wet, grass course in the cold rain. Wait. That sounds like...NXN!!! See? God always has a bigger purpose. Now we get to practice for NXN a little without even leaving southern California! The workout was 8x800s today and it was the first time we were doing it at 88%. The workout would've been hard enough without the extra slipping around and going wide on turns, but we had to deal with what we had. The goal for me today was 212 without the rain with 3 minutes rest. I ran 216-217-216-215-214-214-215-213 and I felt great. Much better than the workout on Monday. The rest of the guys had a little trouble managing the mud, and the guys with the more adapted strides definitely ran faster than those who didn't. But they were all giving the effort that the workout demanded of us and that's what mattered.

Thursday Oct 7th

      Today we were on the hill. I don't know if I let you guys know about out hill, but about 2.5 miles away from school there is a solid 400 meter hill that we run circuits and repeats on. Its a fairly steep hill that we run up and down in the grass median of a street. Because we're 16 days from the very hill Mt. Sac we needed to get some more hill work in. Today we only did a 4 mile threshold. I'm really sore from yesterday, but I know that if I want to do what I want to do at Mt. Sac that I had to get through this workout and I would be in good shape for a good run at Mt. Sac. Though I felt sore throughout the entire run because of 6 sets of lunges we did 2 days before, i still ran really well, going 547-554-547-545 with a goal of 555/mile. The guys behind me packed run the way they want to on Saturday and we looked really good.

Friday Oct 8th

     Day before Clovis Invite!! After a 3 and half hour drive up and dropping our stuff at the hotel we headed over the the famed Woodward Park, and did our usual premeet. The entire run we discussed the race plan for each of us individually and team wise and talked about every little nook and cranny of the course. This will be my 7th race at Woodward and I can legitimately say I dream about this course. It's one of my favorite courses, but I've had a horrible race on that course that haunts me to this day. It serves as motivation for me every time I show up to just hammer the course as much as possible. About 400 meters from the 2 mile mark is the only real hill on the course, and here we stopped, as is tradition, and did our customary hill sprints. The hill on this course is not that big of a deal, but if you don't know anything about the hill then it can definitely be deceiving. So we always run the sprints to remind ourselves that we are trained to roll over these kind of hills. At the end of the premeet we did our strides and drills and checked out our box, though we had to be yelled at plenty of times by race officials to get off the line. So we just kept going back and forth, until they almost DQed us. ahaha. Had an interesting experience today before I left. A runner from another team ran up to me and asked me if he could rub legs with me. Needless to say I was weirded out. And my team had a field day with that one. You can just imagine. But time to get in bed and get ready for a good race tomorrow!

Saturday Oct 9th

        Race day! Today the race went AMAZING from top to bottom for everybody. After watching our B team struggle the first mile the A team guys were definitely a little worried. Those are the guys who run with us and do the same training as us. If they're having problems then we will to. But as we finished our cool down we heard that our team rallied late and came up with a 4th place finish....IN A VARSITY RACE. That got us stoked and we knew that we were ready to run fast. But our legs begged to differ. Strides for all of us were harder than usual, and none of us could pick up our legs because we were so tired. But we had a race plan and mentally we were ready to run regardless of what our legs told us. When the gun went off we were lucky enough to get a clear line to the front, and when I looked back at 200 meters into the race I saw all 6 of the guys directly behind me. I looked at them and told them it was time to settle and run their race. After that I was on my own without them and they did their thing. I came through the mile alot slower than I wanted to at 4:39-4:40. I was really looking forward to running with some top individuals and hammering those first two miles, but unfortunately  no body pushed that first mile or took the lead which was disappointing. From there I became upset and started to try to drop anyone who was with me because they obviously didn't want to do any work. I ran the downhills hard, and the uphills hard, and half way through the race I felt that I was alone, but I didn't want to look back to check. When I got to the hill I ran it exactly the way I wanted to, though I could start to feel my legs getting heavier right at the 2 mile mark. I came through 2miles at 9:31 which was a good sign because that had been the fastest I had ever run the 2nd mile. I decided that I was going to chill from there and just come in for the win, but then Alex Fan (one of our assistant coaches) yelled at me saying to "KEEP HAMMERING AMMAR!!! WE'RE MAKING HISTORY!!" Right then I knew we were closing in on that course record set by Mead in birth year. So I continued to run semi hard, and with 800 to go definitely shut it down because I knew that I was going to hit the time I needed to make sure that our team could break the record. After crossing the line in 14:51 I watched as we went 15:10-15:28-15:43-15:56. I knew we had it right there and got down on my knees and thanked God for a good race for me and the team. We later found out that we went under the record by 13 seconds, which is exciting, but we reminded ourselves that State is still a month and half away. 

In 2 weeks we have the Mt. Sac Invite! I'll try to update you after then! Thanks for reading!! See you soon! Tminus 49 days. Tminus 56 days.

~  Ammar