(Editors note: This is Aisling Cuffe's last journal entry of the year. We thank her for taking the time to share her season with the running community in words and photos. Congratulations Aisling on a great race and we wish you continued success into the future!)
Well, this is it. High School Cross Country is over, and another Foot Locker Championships is complete. It’s weird being a senior, knowing that for me, Foot Locker is over. I am extremely jealous of all the underclassmen, knowing that they can continue to make it back in the next few years. I have NCAAs to look forward to, but that’s just not the same as Foot Locker. I am fortunate enough to only have great memories from all three years at Foot Locker, and this year was the perfect finale. Besides the race, this year was also the most enjoyable. It could have been because I made sure to cherish every final moment, like the “final old elevator ride” at the Del, the “final ride over the huge bridge” onto Coronado Island, and even the “final ice cream sundae special” after the race. I am here to tell you all about my final experiences at Foot Locker 2010.
Everything started early Thursday morning. 3am to be exact! I hate getting up early, but for events like these, I know that the earlier I have to get up, the sooner I will be living it up. And I was certainly in a hurry to exchange the early morning 18 degrees in New York for the 70s in San Diego. My flight came in with a large group of Foot Locker kids from all over the country. For the first time in a year, I got to drive across this amazing bridge to Coronado Island. The view is amazing during the day, and in the early morning the fog is so dense that the bridge appears to disappear about half way across (which me and a few other girls realized for the first time this year).
We arrived at the hotel, checked in, and got our new Saucony bags with all of our free clothing, shoes, and most importantly, uniforms! The Northeast was blue this year, and I originally did not like the color all that much, but it grew on me over the weekend. I got an amazing room at the Del, easily the best room of all 3 years (fun fact of the Del: I am pretty sure that no two rooms are identical, and every one has a different size, shape, and view). Not to mention my awesome roommate, Grace Tinkey. It’s like we were matched perfectly! We both get up at the same time, and go to bed at the same time, and we were both slightly messy (I liked to call it an organized mess).
The run on Thursday was nice, and all the athletes had a lot of fun at the dinner Thursday night. The food was great, and we got to take endless photos in a free photo booth, and get spray tattoos (I chickened out, of course. Even though they were temporary, the decision felt so permanent!). I am proud to say that the Northeast Girls fit 8 people into the photo booth (really designed comfortably for two or three people), which led to a great picture! The next day, we had breakfast at the hotel, and then went to the Balboa Park course for a course preview. The temperatures climbed pretty fast, and after a rather chilly morning (relative to the location, not really too chilly), the high 70s found its way to the course. I did an easy run, and lots of strides around the course, to get a good feel for Saturday.
I was very relaxed. I feel I race best when I am not overly focused, as I tend to think too much. When I am happy and distracted, things go very well for me. So, I usually am happy and distracted.
It’s a cool way to live.
Nothing bothers me all too much, but every little thing makes me happy to some degree. As long as you know what the ultimate goal is, it doesn’t hurt to have other things on your mind. After visiting the course, I hung out with some of the runners in the game room, and we watched some old Foot Locker race videos. Friday night was a tad more formal, as we had a great pasta dinner, and listened to a very famous panel of speakers tell their stories, and answer questions. I went to bed extra early, as Grace and I wanted to eat breakfast extra early on Saturday.
Then race day came.
I had an early breakfast, then went back to my room. I got everything ready for the course. A little while later, we all boarded the bus, and headed to the course. The warm ups went well, and I started to focus more seriously on the race. Intros were done, and the race was off. We started pretty fast for the first 800m, then we settled in a little, but not much. Allie Woodward and I pulled away a little heading into the mile mark, and I settled in behind her going up the hill. At the top of the hill is one of my favorite places on the course, which was part of my reason for making a move there. Over the years I have evolved from a horrible downhill runner to a semi decent one, and for some reason, on this course, I click with the downhill. So I used it as part of my “getaway”.
Luckily, everything worked out well for me, and I was able to maintain relatively even splits throughout the entire race, even though I was feeling dead towards the finish. Just as it was for me every year, the hill the second time was extremely tough, but I knew I had to push through it. Finishing was the best feeling of relief all year. Of course I was extremely happy with the win, but with all the build up before the race, I had felt like if anything else happened, people would be disappointed with me. It was most stressful in the last mile, knowing I could not be passed. When the race was over, I could finally enjoy the accomplishment. I was so happy for all the girls who accomplished their goals heading into the race. For all of the girls who fell a little short, I hope they realize the importance of making it to Foot Locker in the first place.
Just as all of the speakers were saying all weekend, the race is important, but what you take away from the entire weekend beats everything. Even from my perspective, this is true. For me, the race was huge! It was the biggest accomplishment in my life to date. But something just as important to me was getting to run with Rachel Johnson and Kelsey Lakowske on Thursday, hanging out with the Northeast team, and getting to know everyone else throughout the course of the weekend. I made a ton of new friends over the weekend, and we will always remember this experience! Sunday was sad, as always, saying all of the goodbyes, hoping that I will see all of the runners at various meets throughout the rest of the year, and on the college scene. I will miss Foot Locker so much!
And now it’s all over. Monday at school was very eventful. Everyone had watched the race online, and the hallways were decorated with balloons and signs congratulating me. My math class even threw a surprise party for me, which almost made me cry! We had cake, cookies, and watched my race online (which, ironically, was my first time seeing the race). They made hilarious posters, involving Photoshop, which I can’t even begin to explain. The best part was knowing they would have had the party for me anyway, regardless of how my race fared. Gosh, I love Cornwall! Even though, as I write this Monday night, the temperature is slowly dropping to a predicted high of the mid 20s tomorrow… and it’s snowing! I hope I have a snow day!
Some pictures of the view:
Some pictures of the view:
The view from the bridge
The view from my awesome hotel room
Pictures from the weekend:
Hanging out on Friday, watching Foot Locker videos
The amazing Northeast team, after the race
Coach Creeden, me, and Coach Feuer, after the race
After the race, walking downtown with my mom… I found Elvis!
When I got home, this was waiting for me on my garage door! I still don’t know who made it!