Talkin XC 2014: Claire Brown

PRs: XC 5K: 19:45, XC 3 Mile: 18:52, Track 800m: 2:14.78


Preface: I was asked to answer these questions not because I'm one of the preseason favorites (haha I wish), but as a representative of Villa's cross country team. Because these questions are aimed more towards preseason individual favorites, and Villa's success has always been about the strength of our collective team and not one front runner, I've tweaked my responses to be more team-oriented.


PennTrackXC - How is your summer training going?  What kind of runs are you doing and what kind of mileage are you hitting?

Summer training has been great this year -- the weather has been perfect for running and our team is excited for the upcoming season. We've started workouts and tempos, and we're getting ready to go to our team camp. It will be very exciting to see how our hard work pays off this season! As for mileage, it varies depending on how much each person can handle - Some of my teammates and I have been hitting 50 miles/week while others vary between 30-35 or 40-45 depending on their age, experience, and health.


PennTrackXC - For what 2014 meets are you most excited?

This year will be the first season our team is going to New York for the Manhattan Invitational. This is definitely the most exciting race we have planned for the season. Our entire team of 28 girls will be making the trip and we plan to spend an extra day as NYC tourists! We also love the Red, White, and Blue race early in the season.


PennTrackXC - What are your goals for the 2014 cross country season?

The focus of our season is to go after the state championship. This would be a first in school history and we are excited to go after this challenge. We know that in order for our team to improve, our varsity squad will have to step up from past years -- especially up front. Personally I know, as do my teammates, that we have to improve as individuals in order for our team to reach our goals; my best will help the team do its best. We need our top runners to place in the top ten at states. Our season goal will definitely not be easy with all of the amazing AA teams out there; but we are ready to try!


PennTrackXC - What is the most valuable lesson you learned last season and how can it be used to improve your 2014 season?

Last year was a difficult year for us. It was full of very dramatic ups and downs. I think the biggest lesson we learned was that we can't control everything. We lost key athletes to injury in championship season --something we never planned for. We also dealt with some other challenges within the team. Last year taught us the importance of depth. Every team member is valuable and matters. We now know that even though we can't control what happens, we can all put ourselves in position to step up for each other when or if we need to. 


PennTrackXC - What are your keys to success when it comes to your training program?

I think our success as a team comes from the bond we all share and our desire for each others betterment. We all want each other to do her best and in that we are able to push ourselves further than we could alone. At every practice, we all cheer for each other as workouts are finishing up and manage to speak encouragement to each other while running intervals. We know that everything we do is for the team - and when I say "team" I really mean "family" because that is what Villa XC is - we know we're running for each other and that we can count on one another to have our backs. I think that dependability is irreplaceable and is definitely our biggest key to success thus far.


PennTrackXC - What is your most memorable cross country performance thus far in your career?

If I had to pick just one race, I would have to say the 2012 District 10 Championship. This was the first time in years that Villa had won a district title and it seemed to be one of the first races that showed us just how much potential we had - in just two short years we had gone from 9th place in 2010 to 1st in 2012. It might not have been the best race for everyone but it was the first race that seemed to reflect our hard work and it was amazing to  see our dreams beginning taking shape.


PennTrackXC - What is your greatest non-running experience in cross country so far and why?

I would have to say that so far the best non-running XC experiences have been at our team camp that is held at a cross-country ski lodge each year. We've done everything from playing the hugest game of Apples To Apples you've ever seen to chubby bunny by a bonfire to star tipping the first night. Each year's camp brings us closer as a team and gives us the bonds needed for the season. It's a great place for the freshmen and new runners to come out of their shells and get to know the people they'll soon be sharing most of their high school lives with.


PennTrackXC - When and how did you get started in cross country?

I first started running when I was in third grade on a local fun runner team. I was homeschooled and didn't have a school team of my own, so when my friend invited my sister and I to do fun runners with her school I was happy to try it.  Looking back, it seems most of Villa's cross country team got their start through fun runners as well (we have found old pictures with many of us racing each other when we didn't even know who each other was!) Both of my parents were collegiate runners, and my mom also ran post-collegiately, so of course they were thrilled when my sister and I discovered the joys of running.


PennTrackXC - Who has influenced you the most in your life and what have they meant to you and your success thus far in your career?

I would have to say that my coach, who also happens to be my mom, is definitely the most influential person in my life. I can't speak for my teammates but she is without question the most encouraging person I know. She always (well maybe not always) knows how to encourage me and the rest of the team to do our best. She wants us all to challenge ourself to be the best we can be and helps us set goals that really motivate us.

Since I was asked to answer the above questions as a "Villa girl" I thought it would be appropriate to have some of the other Villa girls answer these questions. Here are the responses Grace Trucilla, Olivia Messina, Carlee Constable, and Alison Carson gave:


What is your...


Favorite social media hangout? "Instagram" - Grace Trucilla

Pre-race ritual/superstition? "Our team prayer/huddle" - Olivia Messina

Favorite cheat food? "Ice cream!" - Carlee Constable

Favorite pro athlete? "The Gouchers for sure!  They are so inspirational" -Alison Carson

Must-have running accessory? "Mizunos!" - Olivia Messina

Long run jam? "I never run with music while on my own; I prefer to think and listen to my body and breathing.  However, the Villa girls love to listen to crazy and fun songs together during some tough workouts!" -Alison Carson

Favorite workout? "6x1000. This workout is hard enough where I get the high of pushing myself but not explosive fast so the workout distance allows me to build on my pace. I like how I can feel fast throughout rather than starting fast and finishing feeling slow." - Grace Trucilla