Cross Country 2005

UCSB Women’s XC ’05 – Bethany’s journal

Bethany Nickless NCAA Division 1 West Regional Championships

Well, there is not really much to say about our race this past weekend. It was a pretty disappointing one. It was definitely not a good way to close out a season. The Gauchos traveled up north to Stanford to compete in the NCAA Division 1 West Regional Championships. We ended up finishing 15th out of 30 teams. Seanna Martin closed out her cross-country career with a 39th place finish and a time of 21:31. I was our second runner coming home in 64th with a time of 22:01. Danielle Dominichelli was 90th and ran 22:36. Liza Hitchner worked with Danielle throughout the race and finished right behind her in 22:38 for 92nd position. Leslie Alexander, also running the last race of her cross-country career ran 23:09 and finished 125th overall. Laura Zung, running 23:14 and Christie Farson, running 23:17 rounded out our top seven. Hadas Moser did not compete due to a recently discovered stress fracture in her foot, but she made the trip to support us all!

While this season has not exactly been a success statistically, I believe it has been successful in other ways, most important being personal growth. We all had to take on new roles as competitors and teammates this year. It was a learning experience for everyone, including the coaches. Looking back on the season there are many good memories and a few bad ones. You can always look back and say, “What if we had done this?” or “We should have done that.” And yes, I think there are some things we could have done differently as a team that could have changed the outcome of the season a little bit, but you live and you learn.

Not many teams can lose their top four athletes and still be competitive at any level. While we could have been more competitive at certain races, I still think it is crazy how deep our team actually is. To have a bad day at the conference meet and still finish second is pretty ridiculous. I don’t know how many other teams can say that. That alone makes me proud to be a Gaucho.

I always thought of myself as a track person. To me, cross-country was just kind of a necessary evil to compete in track. After this season though, I am kind of changing my view on that. Cross-country really grew on me this year and I think I really grew from this season too. I cannot wait to see what next year brings. How much more can I grow? I think I have a long ways to go, so it will be interesting to see.

So, now the season is over. What does this mean, you ask? Well, first of all, it means a week to two weeks of not running. A little time to just let our bodies and our minds recover. Secondly, it means a week to two weeks of getting to do everything you couldn’t do during season. For me, that means eating a lot of ice cream and playing soccer and tennis. It will be fun, but I definitely cannot wait to start training for track!

Thank you to everyone who supported the Gauchos this year. It is greatly appreciated! I will try to drop in a few times during the “off season” just to keep you updated. Have a great holiday season!



Big West Conference Championships

First off, I would like to apologize for taking so long to write this entry. I tried to write it earlier on in the week, but mentally I was just not ready to. I know that sounds weird, but it’s been a rough week for me. It will all be explained as I progress throughout this entry. Please bear with me, as I feel as if I have so much to say about the race, yet don’t know how to say it. This entry could get quite lengthy, so I apologize in advance.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” This is pretty much how I feel about my Big West Conference Championships. The only thing about this quote that I do not like is that yes, I “landed among the stars”, but it sure as heck is not “the moon.”

Last weekend, the Gauchos headed down to Riverside, Calif. compete in our biggest meet of the year. We had two solid weeks of training since Pre-Nats in Indiana and we were all fired up and ready to race. We had our nice little pre-race run on the course on Friday, followed by an Olive Garden dinner, and were pumped for the race the next morning. I was tossing and turning all that night because I had so many different thoughts going through my head. It’s at a time like this that you wish you could just rip out your brain and put it away for a while. I’m sure you have all had that feeling, so I am not going to explain it any further. Well, 6 am came all too soon, and I woke up and had my usual rice cakes with peanut butter and a banana while watching a movie on television. We got ready to go and headed to the course. We got to our spot and sat around and stretched and listened to music for a little while until it was time to warm up.

The men’s race was going on while we warmed up, so we got to cheer for them a little and they were running really well. So, that got us even more fired up. We finished our warm up and stretched, and did our little pre-race routines (everyone’s is different) and then headed to the line for some strides and the legendary Gaucho cheer. Before I knew it, the gun was up and we were off. The race went out faster than expected for the front pack, so Seanna, Hadas, Leslie, and I were all together in the back of the 2nd pack coming through Mile 1 in about 5:37. We were sitting in about 11-14th place through the mile. Leslie was right where she needed to be, but Seanna, Hadas, and I all needed to move up.

Well, after the mile, the two Irvine girls who we were keying off of decided to make their move. This is where I normally would respond and go, but I didn’t. I mentally settled into my spot and just thought that I could catch them later on in the race. I think this is the point in the race that lost me the Big West Title. Seanna and I worked together the whole rest of the race and ended up finishing 5th and 7th, respectively. Our two freshmen Danielle and Liza worked together the whole race and stepped up huge by finishing 15th and 16th. Leslie, having a bit of an off day finished 23rd overall. Hadas, battling a serious foot injury, finished 27th. Laura Zung finished in 37th. Christie Farson finished in 39th. Kristina Moore, the third of our freshmen, rounded out our top nine in 46th.

The team ended up getting 2nd overall behind UC Irvine and just ahead of Long Beach State. Not too bad considering the circumstances (missing our top 4), but not good enough. It was a pretty disappointing day. Normally a team can get away with one maybe two runners having an off day, but it seems like just about everyone on our team had an off day, and it is a major bummer that it had to happen at the meet that it did. UC Irvine ran extremely well, and even if we had all been on that day it would have been a very close race. Had we gotten 2nd in that situation, things would be different.

I was disappointed in the way I performed at conference. I felt like I didn’t truly represent what it was to be a Gaucho in that race, and that I had let my team down by not doing better. This is the race I had been training for since June, and now it was over, and I had let it slip right through my hands. A new PR and All-Conference are great awards to receive, but I just was not happy. It’s frustrating knowing that you did not reach your potential. What could have been the happiest day of my life, turned into 4 or 5 days of mental anguish. I spent the rest of Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and part of Wednesday going through the race, over and over again. Beating up on myself for what I could have done differently. This race basically tore me apart and affected everything I did for the next few days.

Studying became nearly impossible, my workouts went downhill, and sleeping was just one big nightmare about the race. I let the pressure of possibly being Big West champ get to me, and I broke. It took me back to the days of high school when my coach would tell me before a race, “You HAVE to do well!” I just wasn’t ready for that big of a responsibility. Sometimes, in running though, you don’t have the choice to be ready or not; you just have to go with it. I believe that this is what separates good runners from great ones.

I finally decided on Wednesday to not worry about the race anymore and just run. Run the way I used to. In doing so, I had a pretty good workout and came to a few conclusions about the previous weekend:
1. Mental preparation is a must.
2. The race is over; there is nothing I can do to change it.
3. It taught me a lot about myself that I would not have learned otherwise.
4. There comes a point when sometimes you just have to let things go.
5. Life will go on!

It is good to be “constructively pissed” after a race, as my coach would say. However, dwelling on all the negatives for days is not being “constructively pissed.” “Constructively pissed” is what I should have been, and I guess you could say is what I am now. I’ve learned a lot in the past week; about running, about myself, about my team, about a lot of things. All I can do now is take it all and use it in my next race.I think our team has learned from our mistakes, and we are all ready to go out and surprise a few people at the NCAA Division 1 Western Regionals this next weekend up in Palo Alto at the Stanford Golf Course.

Division I Pre-Nat’s
Terre Haute, Indiana,10-15-2005.

Well, one more race is down in our very seemingly short cross-country season of 2005. Including this past weekend, I have raced a total of 3 times and our next race coming up is our conference meet. I have never actually had a true cross-country season here at UCSB, so I am finding out very quickly how different this season is from track.

Gaucho rocket sisters: l. to r. Danielle Dominichelli, Seanna Martin, Hadas Moser, Christie Farson, Bethany, Liza Hitchner, Leslie Alexander

Anyways, this past weekend our top 7 men and women (and 2 coaches) traveled to Terre Haute, Indiana to compete in the NCAA Division 1 Pre-National Meet. Our trip started at 6:15 am on Thursday. We loaded into the vans and left campus heading to LAX. From there we would fly to Indianapolis, Indiana and then on to Terre Haute. By the time we got to Indianapolis it was starting to get dark and we all still needed to run, so we stopped in Plainfield, Indiana. To me that is just a total cliche of a mid-west/ mid-east (still haven’t decided which Indiana is) town name. We ran at this park that wasn’t very big, but it had a bike path that you could follow around for a ways. It also had a really cool bridge with lights over it that we loved running over. Part of this bike path was surrounded on both sides by lots of trees and bushes and the sun was starting to set, and it honestly sounded like we were running through a rainforest. It was so cool! So, besides the fact that I get a kick out of running in new places, we just did a 6 mile run and loaded back in the vans and headed for Terre Haute. Once, in Terre Haute we checked into our hotel rooms and then headed off to dinner. I roomed with Hadas Moser, which always makes for good times! After dinner we headed back to our hotel and hung out until we got tired and then went to sleep. Friday morning was nice because we got to sleep in and didn’t have to worry about doing anything that day except heading to the course for our pre-race run. When we got to the course I got a few butterflies in my stomach. The complex was beautiful. It was designed specifically for cross-country and it was just amazing. Other big schools were there warming up and to be honest it felt a little bit intimidating to be there with them. We did our pre-race run of the course and then followed that up with some strides at the starting line. We hung out at the course for a while and I just took it all in. A big meet like this is a totally new experience for me. You want to think it’s big time like high school state meet, but it’s way more big time than that. It’s not even something I can describe to you. We did what we needed to do at the course and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for a very EARLY dinner. Olive Garden is the happening place in Terre Haute, especially with 70 college teams from around the nation all wanting to go to the same place. So, learning from past experiences, the only way we would get in to eat is if we ate around 4:30. Which, I might add is 2:30 west coast time, so it was interesting, but looking back I am really glad we did that. Since, it was only like 6:00 when we were done with dinner, the girls decided to go see a movie to get our minds off of the race. We saw In Her Shoes with Cameron Diaz. Super cute movie, I recommend it to all the women but it’s not really a guy movie, unless you are a guy who is in to super cute chick flicks, then I recommend it to you too! Pete (our coach) picked us up from the movie theatre and we headed back to the hotel for a quick meeting and visualization session and then called it a night. Tomorrow was a big day! The morning of the race was pretty relaxing. Woke up and watched some TV and packed and got ready for the race. I wasn’t too nervous yet, which is always a good sign. We headed to the course and got there just in time to see our guys race. Their race did not go as well as everyone had expected, so we knew that we needed to step up and race well. We did our usual warm-up and stretched and then headed to the line for check-in and strides. Finally race time had come. It had been 3 weeks since our last race and it was finally time to reap the benefits of all our hard work. The course starts with about a 600-meter gradual uphill and then goes down and is kind of rolling the rest of the race. You make 2 loops and finish at the top of the first uphill just past the start on your second time around. Before I knew it we were racing. It was crazy, 232 girls all trying to get in the best possible position. The race went out really fast. The leaders came through the mile at 5:13 while Hadas and Seanna were about 5:35 and Leslie and I were right behind them in about 5:37 and our 2 standout freshman and Christie were behind us in 5:43-45. (To put this race in perspective, if you ran your first mile in 6:00 you were in DEAD last…not just last, but like all by yourself last.) We all got out well though, and carried it through the 3k mark. By the 3k, I had caught up to Seanna and Hadas and we came through as a pack in 10:51. Leslie was behind us by a few seconds and our freshmen were running tough together. At this point in time, I was in a place I had never been before. I was running with our two top girls and I felt good. So, I pushed the downhill and just went from there. I thought for sure that I was slowing down, but I was still passing people, so I guess I wasn’t slowing down too bad. The race finishes with this inner loop that heads toward the finish line, then you head away from the finish line then make the turn and head back to the finish. This is honestly the longest finish I had ever experienced in my life. It psyches you out almost, because you are heading toward the finish line and you can see people finishing and then it’s like, nope you have to turn around and head back the other way, then you make the turn and it you are sprinting because you see the finish and you just keep going…and going…and going. Plus you are gradually going up, so that always adds to the enjoyment. So, all you can do is just run as fast as you can and pray that your legs don’t give out before you reach the finish. So, finally I crossed the finish line and my quads and hamstrings were burning in a way that I had never experienced. It was almost an enjoyable pain though, because it meant that I had pushed myself beyond anywhere I have gone before. I ended up running 21:49 (a 40 second PR) and finished 70th overall as UCSB’s number 1 runner. Seanna came in behind me at 22:20 and Hadas behind her in 22:25. Danielle Dominichelli, one of our super freshies, stepped up huge and came in as our number 4 in 22:32. Leslie Alexander rounded out our top 5 in 22:36. Liza, Hitchner, our other super freshie, ran 22:54 and Christie finished as our number 7 in 24:00. Our team ran hard, and you could tell by looking at everyone after the race. We all just kind of sat in the finish area for about 10-15 minutes just completely exhausted and worn out. We ended up finishing 22nd overall out of 34 teams. It wasn’t exactly what we wanted, but it was a good indicator of where we were at as a team. This was a completely new experience for 6 out of the 7 of us. Only Hadas had to been to this big of a meet before. I am really glad I got to partake in this experience. It was an excellent opportunity to compete at a national level. It also helped to show me that I CAN actually compete at the national level. You’d think this would be the end to our long journey, but it wasn’t. Our flight was not until 7 am (Indiana time) the next morning. So, we drove from Terre Haute back to Indianapolis and stayed in a hotel overnight. That night was good though. It was a very mellow night spent hanging out in the hot tub, ordering pizza, and watching movies. Then it was right back up at 5 am (3 am west coast time) to fly back to Santa Barbara. I would have to say that Sunday was one of the longest days of my life. Not to mention, that I hadn’t done any homework all weekend long so when we got back to SB, the rest of my day was filled with running and studying. It was definitely all worth it though. Just another day in the crazy life of a runner and I am sure that most of you reading this know exactly what I am talking about. We do it, not because we have to, but because we love it.I just want to throw in on a side note, that I read an awesome book this weekend and want to recommend it to all of you. It’s Lance Armstrong’s book, It’s Not About the Bike. To be honest with you, I am not a reader. But this book was so good!!! I read the whole thing cover to cover in 3 days. It was amazing, and I just could not put the thing down. So, if any of you are looking for a good book to read…this is the one.Back to the team, the next meet for the top 9 girls is Big West Championships on October 29 down in Riverside. Even though we are missing our top 4 girls, we still have a good shot at taking the title. It is going to be a dogfight out there, but we are definitely ready. Before that though, those not racing at conference are heading down to Fullerton for the Fullerton Invitational this Friday, October 21. It was just a really fun and exciting trip and I did not want to leave out a single moment.


Stanford Invitational 9/24/2005
Friday morning our team made the trip up north for our Saturday race at the Stanford Invitational. We got to the campus around 4:00 ish and headed out on our pre-race run. A nice 4 or 5 miler followed by some strides. After our run we headed over to one of our teammates house for a nice pre-race pasta dinner. A big thanks goes out to the Bland family for a great meal and for allowing 30 Gauchos to invade your home! After the great dinner we headed back to the hotel for a good night’s rest. The girls 6k was scheduled to go off at 5:15 so most of Saturday was spent sitting around the hotel watching hours of TV and relaxing before our race. This only added to my nerves, as this was only my second 6k ever and the first not going well at all! Finally the time came to leave the hotel and head to the course. To say the least…Stanford was a madhouse. There were people EVERYWHERE!!! For those who don’t know, Stanford Invitational is also a high school meet, so they run all the high school races in the morning and then run the college races in the afternoon. So, when we arrived at the course they were finishing the high school races. We walked to our usual shady spot under some trees. It was a very hot day so the shade was really nice. Eventually we found out that races were behind schedule so we were not going to race until close to 5:45. We warmed up and stretched and headed to the line. When we got to the line we did some strides and our usual “Ole Ole Ole” cheer and the starters lined us all up. The field was gigantic. I believe there were close to 230 girls that toed the line. “Runner’s to your mark…*bang*” and just like that we were off. The course funnels extremely quickly so most of the first mile was spent just trying to stay on your feet. All the Gauchos got out well and hit our mile splits pretty close to perfect. The first mile there is really fast. I came through in 4th position for our team at 5:43 right behind Leslie. Seanna and Hadas got out well in 5:30 or so. The second mile slows a bit and gradually heads up hill. Just past the two-mile mark I noticed that I was catching back up to Leslie and she was catching up to Hadas, so I knew we were moving well. The course goes slightly downhill for a bit then u-turns into a very long very gradual uphill (definitely a momentum killer). On this hill I passed Leslie and Hadas and had moved into 2nd position for our team. From the top of the hill to the finish line is probably about a mile and it is all downhill or flat, so I knew I just had to let my legs go and get down that hill as fast as possible. I spotted Seanna up ahead and just kept my eyes on her until the finish. Seanna ended up finishing 20th overall in a time of 22:24 (about a 6:00 average per mile). I was about 9 seconds behind her (with a minute and 45 second PR) in 22:31 and 25th overall. Leslie finished very strong in 40th position and 22:50. Liza Hitchner, a new freshman on the team, had an excellent race, finishing in a time of 23:03. Hadas rounded out our top five. Later on we found out that Hadas was very dehydrated and had passed out at the finish line, explaining why she didn’t run well. It’s tough with afternoon races to eat at the appropriate times and remember to stay hydrated, so our team definitely learned a lesson there. Our two other super freshman Danielle Dominichelli and Kristina Moore finished strong as 6th and 7th Gauchos. Our team ended up finishing 5th overall out of 33 teams and we beat all the other Big West Conference schools, which is definitely exciting for us know that conference championships are coming up right around the corner. Other notable finished in the race were Stephanie Rothstein and Lindsay Christman who finished 5th and 7th respectively overall in the race. They ran unattatched because they are still deciding whether or not they are going to red shirt. So, the rest of the season is going to be an interesting one to see how everything pans out or not. Will we run with or without our top four returnees?? Who knows? It’s all up in the air at this moment. We now have about a three-week break to train and get ready for NCAA Pre-Nationals in Terre Haute, Indiana on October 15.

I gave a quote to the girls on the bus considering we were running sans our top 4: “The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us.”We are all training hard and hoping to represent Santa Barbara well in the upcoming weeks. Until then, I hope all of you are training well and hard and smart!


9/3/2005: Lagoon Race vs. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Cross Country season 2005 has officially started. We had our first meet of the season today here at UCSB at the campus lagoon against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I’d have to say that we came out today showing that we mean business. It was a great way to start the season. Two of our top girls (Stephanie Rothstein and Lindsay Christman) and a few of our new freshman (Danielle Dominichelli and Erin Schyler) ran unattached. The race went out faster than I expected. Our top four (Stephanie, Lindsay, Hadas Moser, and Seanna Martin) came through the mile at 5:35. Leslie Alexander, myself, and a bunch of Cal Poly girls came through at 5:40 with the rest of our Gaucho pack close behind at 5:45. The race kind of thinned out after that and if you include Stephanie and Lindsay, the Gauchos finished in spots 1-6. Lindsay won in a time of 17:46 with Stephanie a close 2nd at 17:50. Hadas brought in our 1st scorer with a time of 17:57 with Seanna right behind her at 18:02. Leslie and I ran the whole race together with Leslie finishing right in front of me in 18:28. I finished in 18:29, which is a new personal best. After me were 3 Cal Poly runners. Next came Danielle, our first freshman, in a time of 18:59. Rounding out our top 5 was Kristina Moore, another freshman, in a time of 19:03. Liza Hitchner, yet another freshman, finished right behind Kristina in 19:06. It was a good day to be a Gaucho. I am very happy with our team’s performance. As for my own performance, I felt a little flat due to the intense training and high mileage. But, I guess that is what is to be expected for the first meet. If you would like complete results from the race and a recap from another standpoint, you can go and click on the women’s cross country link. I’m assuming that Micah will do a write up for the men’s side also, but their results and recap are at that same website.

Next weekend we head to my hometown of Huntington Beach to race at central park in the UC Irvine Invitational. Until then, I hope all of your training is going well.

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle–when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”


Good day to you all! It’s a few hours before our team time trial and I was just doing some reflecting about my summer training and thought that I would put some of it in to words for you all. This summer has been really good for me. I had a few minor setbacks, but considering my past it was nothing I couldn’t manage. I just had a lingering sickness and some asthma problemsbut no serious injuries. I got my mileage up to 65 miles for a week and hit 60 miles three or four times. It definitely feels good to be hitting that kind of mileage without getting injured. The best part was all the different places I got to run. It seemed like I didn’t run in the same city 2 weeks in a row. I got to run in Europe, New England, Ohio, Los Angeles, Huntington Beach, and of course beautiful Santa Barbara. It was a great summer overall. It went by really fast. But I guess that is what happens when you are having fun! Anyways, back to the whole training part–while I didn’t get in as many tempo runs as I would have liked to prepare for our time trial I did train harder than I ever have in any previous off-season. So, going into the time trial I just have to remember how hard I worked this summer. We lost a few key girls to graduation last year, so I feel like this is the year that I need to step up and work hard and perform for the team. So, today is day #1 and step #1 — we’ll see how it goes. Our team leaves tomorrow to go to Mammoth for a week for some altitude training and team bonding before our first meet here at UCSB at the lagoon on September 3. I hope some of you will be out there racing or just watching.

Run hard, be strong, think big! — Percy Cerutty

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