End of Year Interview with Connor O’ Donnell and Pablo Garcia 

The HMSA Cross Country Team

The HMSA Cross Country Team

Anthony Herrera and Jacqueline Prado

This year, the HMSA Cross Country team went to State for the first time in school history. The team displayed hard work and after months of stressful races, they brought upon themselves a great memory of being the first Cross Country team at HMSA to make it to State. After the historic result, we decided to ask seniors Conner O’Donnell and Pablo Garcia about their experience in cross country. 

Me: Describe your experience at State.

Connor: State was pretty fun. Getting there was a 4 hour drive, so it was nice hanging out and talking to everyone. It was a pretty nice experience. The race was the next day, so we had to spend the night there. We had fun, hung out at the pool. The race was pretty exhausting, if I’m being honest. It was pretty intimidating too because there were a lot of good teams there. It’s supposed to be the best 24 teams of the entire state, so it’s pretty intimidating seeing the other 23 and not knowing how good they are compared to us. After a while you get used to it. You need to mentally prepare for the race and just run.

Me: Excluding state, how do you feel you did as a team?

Connor: We did tremendously well. JV was good…

Pablo: JV was flawless to be exact. We were flawless this year.

Connor: They won every single race they had.

Pablo: No losses, all medals. Yeah, we got medals, we got champion t-shirts, you know. We get those.

Me: Anything else to add?

Pablo: It’s not easy. It’s not easy to start.

Me: Why is that?

Connor: You just gotta get used to it. Your body isn’t physically ready to run as much as we do, so it takes like a month or two just to even start running three miles properly or finishing it without stopping. It’s a lot of mental work, a lot of physical work, it takes a while. Once you get there and have the team with you, struggling with you, it makes the process a whole lot easier.

Pablo: He’s got a point. It’s more of a mental game, if anything. If you say you can’t do it, you can’t do it.

Connor: As soon as you start to believe that, it’s over.

Me: Since it’s a mental game, does it make school life harder? Does it add stress? How is the balance?

Connor: Yeah, it’s pretty hard. We get home pretty late, you’re really tired because you just ran like 3 miles to 8 sometimes. So you gotta go home and do work, depending on how much work you have, depends on how late you go to sleep. Not only that, if you go to sleep late, we have practice in the morning, so even before school we have to be here. So we’re here from like 6:30 and school starts and we have to go through the day. It’s really, really exhausting.

Pablo: The night before the race, you gotta eat.

Connor: You gotta eat, you gotta drink, and you just have to be ready at a moment’s notice pretty much.

Pablo: Let’s say we race on Wednesday, right. We come home really late, around 8 or 9.

Connor: It’s just not fun man. Well, it’s fun. I guess the only part that is fun is every part when you’re not running. Hanging out with people, before the race, after the race, talking, supporting each other.

Pablo: The race locations are also really cool.

Connor: The locations we go to are really interesting to see.

Pablo: It’s also kind of expensive, now that I think about it. Some of the shoes you have to buy, they have to be really good.

Connor: Everytime after a race, we get food, so you have to have money for food.

Pablo: It’s fun. It’s fun, but painful. The place you go, you see some sights and get to run the race. It’s nice to be around.

Connor: If anything, people make it seem like cross country is so bad and so hard. Yeah, there are some parts that definitely are, but you only run for about 15 to 25 minutes. You will probably run around for 20 minutes and that’s it. That’s all it is. That’s the whole race. I run for about 16 or 17 minutes.

Me: What are your mile times and how should you prepare for a race?

Connor: Mile time as in personal best how what we get during a race?

Me: Both.

Connor: Honestly, I don’t even know what my best would be. In the beginning of the year, it was around 5 minutes flat, so I guess 5 minutes would be what I know to be my best. During a race, I usually get around 5:20, and I keep that pace for the whole race.

Me: You run a 5:20?

Connor: The best way you can prepare is first, you have to mentally prepare yourself beforehand. You have to get in the right mindset, you have to start believing that you can do it. For the physical aspect, you have to eat well and drink a good amount of water. As soon as you wake up, drink water. As soon as you wake up, get a small snack; something heavy, like a banana, bread, peanut butter, and honey. That’s what I would eat. You just have to be ready.

Pablo: My personal best is, I think, 5:30. During a race, I run around 5:40, around there and keep it up. To prepare before a race, stretches are important. Being hydrated, especially on a hot day when we run at 90 degree weather, sometimes even hotter, is important. The race would get shorter too, from 3 miles to 2 miles. So, drinking water is very important. Being in the right mindset is also important during a race. In order to get faster, it happens over time. You could do a couple of speed workouts a week and then endurance. You could do 3 miles really fast and then 3 miles at a good pace.

Congratulations to our senior runners for finishing their running careers at HMSA strong and to the whole Cross Country team for their outstanding performance this season.  With a lot of young talent, we’re looking forward to next season.