London Culbreath was chasing chickens around her homestead the day before the Texas Distance Festival.
And then something else happened when she stepped on the Southlake Carroll High track for the girls elite 5K on Saturday.
"Eye of the Tiger started playing," she said. "And in middle school, they always played that song before races. It felt like I was on my home turf, so hearing that song was really cool."
Was Culbreath, a McKinney North freshman with a PR of 16:48.59 over the XC season, playing out a scene from Rocky?
Whatever the case, she came away with a thrilling performance, running a US #2 winning time of 17:13.
"Even though I didn't hit my time," she said, "I was proud that I was able to accomplish something new today."
Culbreath's plan on Saturday was to run a smooth race where she could hit mile splits en route to a potential 16:30.
But the environment, while more advantageous than cross country for a fast time, didn't play out the way she envisioned.
"It was a whole diff ballpark than what I expected," she said. "Hills would slow me down in cross country, but I knew this is was all flat. I thought I could do it. But it was a hard surface. It's a lot different than you think it can be."
Culbreath went through the first mile a little faster than planned and then hit her second mile as well, she said, but by the third mile, the wheels started slowing down and she knew she wouldn't be able to make up the difference.
"I think being stronger in that third mile would have helped me get my time," she said, "Because that's when it fell apart."
But Culbreath wasn't disappointed. Not a bit. The freshman ran a career best and a new US #2 time.
"If I had more someone to push me, I probably could have gotten a better time," she said, "but I'm satisfied."
The freshman likely won't run another 5K this season, instead choosing to focus on mile and 2-mile times for the rest of the outdoor season. She'll follow the performance at the Texas Relays in April.
And her goals are to drop 13 second off her 1600m time of 4:53.27.
"I really want to beat my time in the mile," she said.
Perhaps she may want to keep that tradition of chasing chickens before races alive and well.