Distance Diaries

The UC Davis women's cross country team is up and running in 2013. Follow the women all season long on their quest for a Big West Conference team title.

Nov. 1, 2013

With championship season upon us, it is time to focus on performing our best when it matters the most. This Friday, we will travel to San Luis Obispo, CA, with the unified goal of contending for a Big West Conference title. The past twenty weeks of training, dating back to early summer, have been filled with long runs, hill repeats, grass workouts, tempos, weight sessions, and countless hours of the day focused on recovery, all culminating to our championship season. With the majority of the season behind us, we now have the opportunity to prove to ourselves, our coaches, our fans and our opponents that we are ready to succeed.

I am personally excited to race on the course - Fairbanks Cross Country course in San Luis Obispo - where I ran four league championships during high school. Racing in my hometown accentuates just how far I have come in my running career, and how much more I hope to accomplish. The next phase starts with the conference championships on Saturday, and there isn't another group of women with which I would rather accomplish lofty goals.

After being the runner up at last year's Big West Championship, we left with our heads hanging. One year later we come back to attempt again what we failed to do last year. The bitterness of defeat is still fresh in our minds, but we have learned and improved with each competition, challenging each other to step out of our comfort zones. Each day by pushing one another forward, we have improved our team as a whole. This Saturday's course, with its abundance of hills, will test our team's strength both mentally and physically. As a cohesive unit, however, we are ready to face the challenges the race presents.

After weeks of talking about it, the conference meet is here; there is no more preparation that can be done. With our work behind us, we can now focus on the task in front of us. It won't be easy by any margin, but we have not prepared for "easy." We have each committed to fighting for one another and fighting as a team. We are ready to fight together as Aggies.

- Proving you can go home again, Christine Hoffman is a sophomore from San Luis Obispo, Calif., graduating from San Luis Obispo HS in 2012.

Oct. 3, 2013

I came to UC Davis a little over six weeks ago as an individual. I had a general idea of my personal goals, and I was excited to join an accomplished team, but I did not yet identify myself as a true member of the UC Davis Cross Country program. Even as I drove to Davis, my high school graduation still felt closer than cross country report date. Despite my initial hesitance to let go of the familiarity of high school, I was quickly assimilated into the cross country team. This was primarily due to the kindness, hospitality, and guidance of my fellow teammates. I spent my first five weeks in Davis living with four of my teammates in their apartment. This allowed me to forge a strong bond with my hosts in a short period of time and eased my transition from a clueless incoming freshman to a capable member of a team. There is still a lot for me to learn about running on a competitive team, but I find this exciting rather than daunting. Now, with the Regional Preview Meet on Oct. 12, our first big test as a team, only days away, I feel prepared and excited to represent the Aggies.

The atmosphere of Davis' team and campus were primary factors in why I chose to come here, and it is why I come to practice happy and excited to train everyday. I am inspired and motivated daily by the examples of my teammates, the enthusiasm and advice of the coaches, and the successes of the assistant coaches. With such a positive environment to live, study, and run in, my acclimatization to Division I running and college classes has been an exciting and enjoyable experience. Furthermore, as a UC Davis student-athlete, I am able to balance both my academic and athletic ambitions. When I was accepted to UC Davis, I was given the opportunity to participate in the Integrated Studies Honors Program. Initially, I was worried that balancing my workload as a biomedical engineering major, my training for cross country and track, and the Integrated Studies Honors Program would prove too difficult, but with all of the support and resources available on campus and on the team, it is possible to be a driven student and athlete.

Although I have only been on the team for six weeks, I am already fully invested in our team goals. I may not know what it feels like to win a conference title or compete for a spot at the NCAA National Championships, but training alongside my teammates who do know and who are excited for the possibilities this season presents is contagious.  I am immeasurably grateful to everyone who has made my start at UC Davis so wonderful and I look forward to the years to come.

- Hannah Kirkegaard is a freshman from Ventura, Calif. She graduated from Ventura High School in June and writes about joining the Aggies, her teammates and what it's like to compete at the collegiate level. 

Oct. 3, 2013

Almost. No word more succinctly and accurately describes the UC Davis women's 2012 cross country campaign, as our hard-earned conference championship slipped away by just three points and we missed going to nationals by a similarly slim margin. Few things are more disappointing than having worked so hard, having all the pieces in place and just missing the goal by such a small amount. However, these near misses are also some of the most powerful motivators. Time and time again we have seen in our program how that one place, that one point or that one-second can win or lose championships or decide national (or Olympic!) berths. We know that every last repeat, every last mile and every last rep in the weight room can make the difference between becoming a program that can make a team appearance at nationals and getting just so close.... again.

Thankfully, a group of experienced returners fresh off a conference championship on the track combined with a group of talented and eager newcomers make up all the necessary components to allow our program to reach these new heights.

After a long report week complete with a long run, time trial and a track workout under the moonlight, it is evident that each woman on our team has the talent, fitness and motivation to contribute to our team as we continue to elevate our performance. Much of this fitness and cohesiveness came from an outstanding summer of training that saw our core group get bigger and bigger each week to parallel our growing momentum. Though most weekdays involved our team meeting at the track at 7am, we still traveled quite frequently to break up the monotony of the endless Davis farm fields. From Vacaville to the American River Trail to San Luis Obispo, we traversed many miles over a wide variety of terrains to prepare us for the challenges that will come ahead. However, wherever we were, the essence of our team remained the same as I could always depend on having the support of my teammates during the toughest portions of our runs, just as I could always depend on plenty of laughter and smiles to brighten my morning during the moments we weren't heads down.

Such a closeness our team shares, forged by the daily grind of countless miles, repeats and tempo runs and by the more lighthearted memories of crazy hats, team game nights and campfire banter, will allow us to remain confident and poised as we confront uncharted territory in both venue and level of competition. Wherever we are, whether in Sacramento, Wisconsin, Terre Haute or just at home running good-old "airport" route we can take comfort in the constant: we are a team and can always rely on one another to push harder and move forward to new heights. This cohesiveness is the key to erasing the word `''almost" from our vocabulary. At the end of this season, we are going to have a much more satisfying word to sum up the season: finally.

- Hilary Teaford is a senior from Davis, Calif. She is 2010 graduate of Davis High School.