Distance Diaries

The UC Davis women's cross country team is up and running in 2014. Follow the women all season long on their quest for a Big West Conference team title.

Oct. 30, 2014
By Hannah Kirkegaard

To say this season has gone by quickly would be an understatement. It is hard to believe that, in a few weeks, I will be halfway through with my collegiate cross country eligibility, but I have a tattered stack of old training logs on a shelf in my room that stands as a testament to the time that has passed and the miles I have covered. In that time, coaches have changed and seniors have graduated, but the steady accumulation of miles never stopped. While many of the individuals that contributed significantly to our team's success in the past are gone, the environment that created them and drew me to this program is still strong. We are as driven, committed, and hardworking, as ever and believe we are capable of achieving great things. Although we weren't ranked coming into this season, our early performance at the Stanford Invitational displayed the potential of our team. At Pre-Nationals, we were not as successful, but we didn't allow the disappointment of that race to unravel our long-term goals. As we waited for our delayed flight in the Indianapolis airport, we came together and made a list of the things we did well and the places we faltered. With the resilience and commitment to excellence we have demonstrated since the first weeks of training in June, we set a plan to move us forward toward our ultimate goals.

This weekend, at the Big West Championships in Riverside, we may appear to be the underdogs. However, to say we are underdogs implies that we are at a disadvantage; that our competitors have the upper hand and we only have an inspirational story and a chip on our shoulders. Our logs tell a different story. Each crumpled, slightly discolored page is proof that we have put in the work and have the ability to accomplish our goals. While we have worked with the passion of the "underdog," we have the mindset of champions. On Saturday, we will toe the line with a clear goal in our minds, a strong belief in each other, our preparation in our hearts, and all the fight we can muster surging through our veins.

Hannah Kirkegaard is a sophomore from Ventura, Calif., who graduated from Ventura HS in 2013.

Oct. 17, 2014
By Erika Barr

Fall has officially arrived, and with that comes the heart of cross country season. The month of October brings big racing opportunities for the Aggie women. This weekend, we will be traveling to Terre Haute, Indiana, to preview the course we hope to be returning to in late November for the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. In the weeks leading up to this pre national meet, we have put a lot of focus on the team aspect. Our workouts have emphasized the importance of communication and running with teammates. In order to achieve the high aspirations we have set for ourselves, we need to work together as one unit and trust each other whole heartedly. In the three years that I have been a part of this program, I have never felt this much trust and love among the ladies of this team. This is the attitude we want to bring with us into racing.

On Saturday, we will get the opportunity to test our ability to work as a cohesive unit against some of the best teams in the nation. Traveling east allows us to run with top caliber teams that we normally would not have a chance to compete against. We have our sights set on competing at the national meet this season and this weekend is a dress rehearsal for that. In past years, we have fallen short of our goals when travelling across the country to competitive meets such as pre nationals. This year will be different because of our improved team dynamic. When we get to the start line on Saturday, every woman will be prepared to go into battle together to get the job done.

Although we are excited to test our racing skills in a competitive field, this weekend is a stepping stone towards our end of the season goals. Performing at our best to win a Big West Conference title is a goal we continue to work toward. It will take a full team effort to win a title. Racing to a national qualifying spot at the West Regional meet is also on our checklist. So with these goals in mind, we hope to build momentum and confidence through the rest of the season, starting with Saturday. We are no longer seven individual women racing at the same time, but rather a single team who knows how to work together to achieve success.


Erika Barr is a junior exercise biology major from Simi Valley, Calif., who graduated from Simi Valley HS in 2012.

Sept. 26, 2014
By Rocki Lambdin

Saturday, September 27th, will be the opening meet for the varsity women's cross country program. We will go into this race, as well as the entire season, as an underdog in the region because of the many changes that have been made to our team since last year. We lost four of our top seven performers, moved around the coaching staff, and only recently added two new freshmen to the roster. Many people look at this dramatic transition as a reason to leave us unranked in preseason polls, but we look at it as a way to reinvent this program and ourselves as athletes.

Each year our team has grown closer and learned to trust one another. The seven women competing this weekend brought in 61 points in track last season, which is almost one-third of the points for the entire team. Statistically, we have all the evidence that indicates a great upcoming season, and know we have it within ourselves to achieve our ultimate goal- qualifying for the NCAA National Meet.

We only have a few chances to get to the national level, and the first step is to be ranked in the West Region so that we can have race preference for Pre-Nationals in October. This weekend is our chance at a regional ranking and can determine the trajectory of the season. We have to work together and keep the time gap between our first and fifth scorer as small as possible. I know that the Aggie women I stand next to on the starting line will give 100% of themselves into this race and I trust that we will help each other conquer the rigorous six kilometers ahead.

During the 2014 track season, I was able to compete at nationals for the first time. My experience at that meet augmented my belief in myself and in my team. I realized that we have the talent and drive to be competitive nationally. The support of our teammates, coaches, family, and fellow Aggies will also be an integral part of our success this year. Go, Ags!

Rocki Lambdin is a senior from Camarillo, Calif., who graduated from Adolfo Camarillo HS in 2011.

Sept. 12, 2014
By Clara MacLeod

"What a difference a year makes," I remind myself, as I think back to my first ever long run with the team. A little over a year ago, I arrived in Davis for cross country report date with only a season of track experience. The words "tempo," "fartlek," and "pick-ups" were all foreign to me and a long run meant, at most, seven miles. I was even confused on how meets were scored. Cross country and long distance running seemed like another world, and I felt like an alien, but this changed instantly as soon as I arrived on campus - or to the track - and met my new teammates and coaches. Despite my soccer background, my teammates quickly integrated me into the team and helped ease the transition to the high demands of collegiate running with their constant support, dedication to the team and, especially, good humor. Along with their encouragement, running daily with some of the top runners from across the state in a structured, well-established, program allowed me to improve continually. Now, a year later, I find myself in a completely different situation. While last year I was adapting to this new sport and gaining experience, this year proves to be quite different for myself and the team. Individually, I am excited to build upon the foundation from last year and contribute to the team's success. Collectively, with the loss of five main contributors, our team is younger and much smaller than last year's, which allows us to be a more cohesive unit and dictate the direction we want to take our program.

Despite the small size of our team, the desire to compete and succeed is big. This is especially true as we are just coming off a third straight Big West championship in track and field in which the distance group contributed important points. It is with this same competitive and winning mentality that we embrace the 2014 cross country season. Our season opener on August 30th demonstrated our collective strength and individual fitness after many miles of intense summer training, which ranged from hill circuits to progressive long runs to tempo repeats. The fruits of our summer training continue this Saturday at the West Coast Conference Preview in Santa Clara. I am excited to race a 6K again with the fitness and experience I've gained over the past year. Then, two weeks from Saturday, the team will travel south for the Stanford Invitational, which will also serve as a preview for this year's NCAA regional meet. As always, each race allows us to develop as a team and identify areas for improvement so that we are ready to execute come the Big West and regional championships in November.

With the majority of the season still ahead of us, we still have a lot to accomplish. A year ago I remember a team meeting during which we discussed individual and team goals. As a newcomer to the sport, I didn't know what to expect or even what goals to set for myself. Now as a sophomore, I know what to expect from myself and the team, and I believe we will surprise lots of people at the end of this season. Here's to another year of growth and progress.

Clara MacLeod is in her second year with the Aggies and is a native of Albany, Calif., graduating from Albany HS in 2013.