State UIL Cross Country Meet: Fiona Bremner's First Experience
Fiona Bremner, a sophomore at Memorial, competed in the state cross country meet for the first time this year. Sixteen-year-old Bremner is Memorial's top girl's cross country athlete and started cross country just last year. I got the opportunity to attend the meet and see Fiona run. It was a beautiful November day, the perfect climate for running. Fiona ran a great race and it was amazing to watch. I spoke with Fiona and her coach, Vicki Bevan, head girl's track and cross country at Memorial about the day.
Q & A with Coach Bevan:
MM: What were your goals for Fiona this season?
Coach B: Based on her strong track season, I thought she had a great chance of being a 2016 XC regional qualifier. The "unknown" was moving to Region 2 which is a combination of a little of Houston, some Austin, and some Dallas. The challenge when regionals come around was we really had not raced head to head with over 75 percent of these girls. It is difficult to compare times to know how you fit in with the rest of the field because cross country courses can vary in length and difficulty, not to mention weather can play a huge factor. That is one of the many great aspects of cross country - just compete and don't overthink it. When she started beating some really good Houston runners early, I realized that she had a solid chance of advancing to regionals and possibly state.
MM: How did you plan her pre-state training?
Coach B: Our training is done on research but we have to make adjustments due to the limitations of high humidity, hot weather and harder training surfaces (no easy access to trails). Our academics are challenging and sleep is essential. All of these factors make our training a low mileage program, but we work hard. When state rolled around, we kept our training regime similar but started to taper (reduce exercise) some. We had to travel for both regionals (Dallas) and state (Austin) so this was included in determining her training.
MM: Can you tell me about your experience the day of state?
Coach B: We had jogged the new state course the day before and we felt confident about the changes. On race day, everything went perfect - it was our best weather day of the year, great course, and the "hay is in the barn" as the saying goes. Fiona was a little more nervous than usual (so she said) but she always seems pretty calm to me. We don't talk much on race day about strategy. State race day is a site to see though - 12 races going on, buses shuttling spectators, some runners about to run, some racers finishing and their emotions, etc. It is all a moment to embrace! Her family was there to support and some teammates came so that was special as well. As far as racing, she did even better than I anticipated. I was hoping for top 50 so when she finished 35th, I was elated for her! She is an excellent racer - she has a tank on her and knows how to come from behind when others start to fade.
MM: What are your goals for Fiona next year?
Coach B: It is always tough to get to state because you have to stay injury free, healthy and make it happen on that day. However, I think next year she can be in top 15.
MM: How do you keep your runners motivated throughout the entire season?
Coach B: First and foremost I want my athletes to know that I care about them beyond running. I hope that they grow to love running and enjoy being together. It is not easy for these athletes to maintain excellent grade point averages, participate in other sports and activities, and wake up on most mornings at 5:30 a.m. to train, but hopefully the journey makes it rewarding. However, I think the motivation comes from our leadership team. We have great captains with Fiona being one of them. We are young and will have nearly everyone back next year. We are looking forward to logging miles, improving and making a splash next year with our entire team advancing to regionals.
Q & A with Fiona:
MM: What were your goals for this season?
FB: My goals this season were to qualify for regionals and state.
MM: Talk about your experience at state.
FB: The state meet was very intimidating because I knew that all of the athletes there had worked just as hard as I had to get to this meet and that everyone was there to compete. It was a great experience though because I had a lot of fun racing and meeting other runners.
MM: What did you to train throughout the whole season?
FB: Throughout the season my teammates and I trained every morning at 6:15, our workouts varied from 7 mile runs in the neighborhood to 400 meter sprints on the track.
MM: How do you deal with the pre-race nerves?
FB: Dealing with pre-race jitters is always difficult because every race is different and it's hard to know what to expect. I usually take a few deep breaths and try to think of other things to distract me until I have to step up to the starting line.
MM: What was going through your mind during the state race?
FB: During the state meet, my mind was focused on the race. I was thinking about strategy and worrying if I was starting out too fast or too slow, but I was mainly thinking about trying to catch the girl in front of me.
MM: How has running cross country impacted your everyday life?
FB: Running cross country has impacted my everyday life in that I have met a lot of great people that share the same interest in running as I do, people that I never would have met without it.
MM: What are your goals for next year?
FB: Next year I hope to keep improving and make it to the state meet again.
Looks like there are many more strong track and cross country seasons are in store for Fiona. Keep your eyes out for one of Memorial's best athletes!
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