Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Road to State: Karen Mac

Running is hard. It takes courage and commitment. It is a challenge.

No one exemplifies those traits better than the Warriors' Karen Mac.  Following a solid freshman year where she ran in the mid-22 range most of the season she committed herself to excellence and viewed every practice as a chance to push herself and get better. 

Her outstanding work ethic and drive had an immediate impact to the team as she has been in the top 5 scoring runners for every race this season. The hard work has paid off; she has improved nearly 2 minutes over last season and is now running consistently in the 20 minute range blossoming into one of of the best runners in school history.

But it is not the individual accomplishment that drives her, it is her team. “My team is what motivates me to get out there every day and put in the hard work.” Karen said reflecting on the season.  “I understand that every action I perform impacts my team."

Because of this she has paid attention to the details such as icing, stretching, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep. "If I do not perform at my best, I let down my teammates who have been training alongside me since June.  Success is a question of commitment.”

After opening the season with a top finish in the first race of the season at Toro Park, Mac broke through at the Clovis Invitational at Woodward Park, the same course that the State Meet is run this weekend. Running 20:25 she finished as the team’s #2 runner which places her 11th all-time for the Warriors.

But the road to state hasn’t been easy. Having to gut out stomach cramping in the CCS Championship she pushed through the pain and focused on the task at hand, determined to come through for the team. “I panicked at first, but tried to remain calm,” Karen said. “Throughout the whole race, I felt the pain of the cramp but knew that I had to push past this pain no matter what. I remembered the tears and misery of the defeat last year at CCS and was determined not to have the same kind of experience.”

Though the cramping was unfortunate, looking back Mac uses the experience as something to learn from. “I have learned to persevere and keep pushing despite the pain. I have learned that each race, you have to give it your all no matter what the circumstances. You have to run with no regrets because not giving it your all will haunt you in the end.”

It was at the team dinner the night before CCS that Mac realized not only what needed to be done the next day but the cost it was going to take to get there.  “After watching the team video, I realized all of the struggles the team has been through together, as well as the amazing experiences and memories we have created. I realized that if we truly wanted to make it to State we had to put in the hard work at the race in order to achieve it.”

“You have to make a decision. Are you willing to do what it takes to achieve success? What are you willing to sacrifice to reach your goals? I decided early on that I would do whatever it took for my team to make it back to state. My team inspires and encourages me every day, and without my team, I would not be as successful.”

“We’ve all experienced the disappointment of a bad race, but we’ve also experienced the glorious moment when hard work is transformed into results.”

That type of mentality is what has made Karen such a key member to this year’s team. Each and every athlete has fulfilled a role focused on their goals, none more than Karen.

“I never expected to discover such an encouraging team and supportive coaches. I also never expected to develop such a great love for the sport,” Karen said. “Those that don’t run don’t understand the sport. Running is a sport in which what you put into it is what you get out of it. Running has helped me gain both mental and physical endurance as well as helped me understand the true meaning of ‘team.’ Running is a sport that will be with me for life.”

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