Elk County Catholic senior Kennedy Weisner enters her final year of XC with a champion's resume. Her best year to date was last year as a junior when she won her first state cross country title - this one in the inaugural Class A Championship. Weisner also qualified for her first Foot Locker Nationals. During indoor, she was invited to her first Millrose Mile, and also to the Brooks PR meet, an elite gathering in the Northwest. She came back in outdoor to capture two state AA titles, winning the 800 and the 1600 - a very tough double. She began her final XC season at PTXC-5, setting a course record of 17:49. An injury hurt her chance to repeat in Class A in XC, and sidelined her until December. She won the Millrose Trials Mile and finished 2nd in the Millrose Games. This is her third year qualifying for the Penn Relaya Carnival Mile - taking 5th as a sophomore and 3rd as a junior.
Hello everyone! It has been a very long time since I last wrote a journal. Five months, I think! The last time I wrote, it was just after cross country states, and I was dealing with my ankle injury. I had to take the rest of the month off from running, but I was able to swim/aqua jog and bike because it didn’t bother my ankle at all. Initially, I thought that the month of November was going to last forever, especially because I was left watching Footlocker and NXN at home on the computer. It was really hard not being a part of it at first, but it was exciting to see Pennsylvania represented so well!
By the beginning of December, I was just anxious to run in general. My first day back, I never felt so grateful to be able to run!! I was so relieved that my ankle felt 100% better, and I was no longer limping. We started the buildup slowly and continued to incorporate the cross training at first. My first “long run” was just 35 easy minutes, which I found to be very funny. Having never been injured before, I didn’t know what to expect coming out of it, but I soon discovered that I really had not lost much fitness during my time off thanks to the cross training. The hardest part was simply getting used to running again.
It can be hard to force yourself outside to run during the winter, but I was determined to go outside as much as possible. This year’s winter was even crazier than usual. When we weren’t having major snowstorms, the temperature was so far below zero that it was just plain stupid to run outside. Since the good ole city of Saint Marys seems to have a thing against plowing the roads (they like to pretend like it isn’t there!) when we would get the freezing temperatures, all of the snow would freeze and it would become very icy. This was manageable for easy days, but it was pretty much impossible to do workouts outside after the beginning of January.
One day, I think towards the end of December, I was doing 1000s outside in the middle of a snowstorm. The only clear and slightly flat place to do it was on this road that is over a mile long but is completely straight. I could see the finish the entire way, and it never seemed like I was getting any closer. It was the longest 1000 meters I have ever run! It just so happened that it was a Wednesday, so my mom started filming me on her phone and called it a “Workout Wednesday” like they have on Flotrack.
My first race back was the Millrose Trials mile in the middle of January. The crazy thing is that about a week and a half before this race I was not even sure if I wanted to run it! Although I had experienced some good runs my first few weeks back, I struggled quite a bit at the end of December. The one day I did mile repeats, and let me just say it was not a pretty sight! I was over a minute off of the time I was supposed to be shooting for. I decided that I should just run the race because I needed to start somewhere. I was so ridiculously nervous before this race, but I just reminded myself that it did not matter how I did, I just needed to get my feet wet, compete, and just give it everything I could.
Needless to say, I was worried for nothing. After just settling in the first couple of laps of the race, I was feeling pretty comfortable, so I started to really pick it up and push the second half of the race. I ended up winning the race and qualifying for Millrose, and I only ran a second slower than I did last year in the same race! On top of that, PA took the first four spots, which was pretty awesome!
There was exactly one month between the Millrose Trials and the actual Millrose Games, so I decided to run an 800 at Edinboro for another opportunity to race and just to run on an actual track! I had to do the majority of my training during the winter on the wretched moving surface that is called a treadmill, so I was happy for any chance I had to run on a motionless surface. I was less than a second off of my outdoor 800 pr in the race, which was a nice confidence booster!
Millrose is always an amazing experience. It is so cool to see professional runners up close and to race at the same meet as them! When I was warming up, my mom slipped on ice and Bernard Lagat immediately stopped to help her up. I think I was too busy gawking at the fact that Bernard Lagat was helping my mom off the ground to be of any help myself, but luckily she was fine! After having a rough race at Millrose last year, I was really set on reversing the outcome, and I was looking to set a new pr. I ended up placing second, and I was happy to have run 4:48, but I was a little mad at myself for letting Caroline Alcorta gap me. My last 400 was actually just a hair faster than hers was, but I had already given her two seconds on me during the third 400 that I couldn’t make up.
I let this fire me up for indoor states, and going in I was completely committed to shooting for 70 second 400s and not letting myself get gapped. I had never raced Bri Schwartz before, but I knew that she really likes to lead and set the pace. I toyed with the idea of just hanging on her, but in the end I knew that I really needed to just run my own race (but not let a gap form). I never would have thought that I would have set myself up so perfectly in that race, hitting 70 at the 400, 2:19 at the 800, and 3:30 at the 1200. I was right where I wanted to be, but apparently my body wasn’t quite ready yet. When I tried to pick it up with 400 to go, I felt my body slow down instead. My mind went kind of fuzzy, and I really don’t remember much about the last 2 laps. All I know is that when I crossed the line I wanted to pass out, collapse, and throw up all at once. That, and I had now been a part of two indoor state races where the state record had been set. I was supposed to also run the 800, but I was really shaky, and my vision was blurry, and when I tried to jog it was really more of a sad power walk, so I ended up scratching. It was a tough decision to make, but I knew it was the right one.
My teammate Nicole also competed at indoor states for the first time in the high jump. She ended up tying for second, which was pretty impressive seeing as the only practice she had high jumping all winter was at the two meets she went to at Edinboro!
I had a few really good workouts leading into nationals, particularly a 400 workout (on the treadmill – almost as scary as treadmill hills!). Before Millrose I had done the same workout but hadn’t quite been able to finish it. This time I not only finished it, but I was faster on all of the reps.
I talked Nicole into high jumping at nationals in the emerging elite event on Friday. Even though I didn’t race until Sunday, my parents and I decided to go up early so we could watch her jump and support her. Unfortunately, she didn’t jump very well, but I think it really opened up her eyes as to what is beyond our little area of Pennsylvania.
Going into my race, I knew there was a really good chance that Alexa Efraimson would take the race out fast, and if she did, I needed to hang back and try to hit 70 second 400s but not count myself out. It turns out I was right, as she went out in a 65. I did a good job of moving up during the race, and with 400 to go, I was actually able to pick it up, which was a great feeling following my states race. I saw that I was actually gaining on Alexa a little bit. Unfortunately, I was passed in the last 50 meters so I ended up 3rd, but I was happy to lower my pr again.
Following nationals, I had a few days off and some easy days. My team had our first outdoor meet just two weeks after nationals, so I treated it as a workout. It was the Altoona Igloo Invitational, and as its name implies, it is usually pretty cold there. This year was probably a bit warmer than some of the other years, but we were expecting rain about half way though the meet, so I was not looking forward to that at all! First I ran the 400 and I finally broke 59 seconds, which I was pretty happy about! Then I ran the 3200 sort of tempoish. My splits were all over the place because I was struggling to focus, but I eventually ended up on pace and I was just glad to finish and get it over with because I am not fond of that event at all. Right after the 3200, I ran the first leg of my school’s 4x4, and I felt so much stronger than I did during the open 400 and I believe my split was a bit faster, too. We ended up winning, which was very exciting! Except for a light mist towards the end of the meet, the rain held off, but within 30 minutes of the meet ending a torrential downpour began, and I am so glad it held off because it would have just been miserable!
The next week (April 5) I ran the 800 at the Brookville Invitational, and this was supposed to be my one real hard race effort prior to Penn Relays. It was absolutely freezing this day, but I made sure to warm up really well and I was feeling ready to run hard… until I took my sweats off on the line. The first 10 seconds I was still warm, but then I started freezing and I even had under armour on top and bottom! Even still, though, I was committed to a hard, fast pace, and after 400 meters I was just barely off of the split I wanted to hit. But then I became so cold that I thought my legs just might break off. And then I hit a head wind on the backstretch that was so fierce I wasn’t sure if I was running or power walking! Needless to say, I don’t think I have run an 800 that slow since my freshman year.. On the bright side, though, my time was close to mile pace and I wasn’t very tired at the end, so I guess that’s a good sign!
Since Brookville, we’ve actually had pretty nice weather, although we have had a few random cold days and it actually, it snowed one day last week! I’ve just been doing workouts and runs, getting ready for Penn Relays on the 24th. Penn is always such an amazing meet and the atmosphere there is just incredible. It will also be my first mile since nationals, so I can’t wait to race!
I am very sorry this journal is so long! I promise I won’t wait so long to write next time!... and I promise it will be shorter, too! Good luck to everyone throughout the rest of the track season! States is barely a month away, and if the past five months is any indication, it will be here before we know it!