Posted Jun. 9, 2015
Based on the results, no one can argue with the approach.
“Everyone makes fun of me because I often look angry when I race,” Driver said. “Getting angry is my way of getting in the zone.”
Once she reaches that zone, she’s hard to stop. The Raiders’ second-year long distance runner and star of the girls outdoor track team has built an impressive resume of performances in the mile, her top event, as well as the 4×400-meter, 800-meter, and 2-mile races.
This season, Driver improved her mile time by 18 seconds from one year ago and set a personal record in the process, crossing the finish line in 5:11 at the Bay State Conference meet on May 26. She also has personal best times of 61.3 seconds on her leg of the 400-meter relay, 2:21 in the 800-meter, and 11:48 in the 2-mile.
“There’s no better feeling than giving everything you’ve got in a race and crossing the finish line and being rewarded with an awesome personal record,” said Driver. “It’s a mind game in which you prove to yourself how much you can take and how badly you want it.”
Driver’s concise times this year helped Wellesley’s girls go undefeated in the regular season and win a second straight Herget Division championship. The Raiders had nearly 30 girls qualify for the Division 2 state meet, and several moved on to All-States.
“Which is awesome,” Driver remarked.
As for Driver, she had the best time on the Raiders’ league championship team in the 800, mile, and 2-mile. Driver also won the Bay State Conference title in the mile, placed fourth at the divisional meet, and was one of the select few to compete at All-States.
“It was clear from the start of the season that she was determined to be the one of the best competitors in the league,” said Wellesley High girls track coach John Griffith, “and she is one of the best teammates that I have coached.”
Being one of the best isn’t simply the result of relying on raw talent. Driver is meticulous in her preparation — making sure to sleep well, eat plenty of carbohydrates, and drink lots of water before her events.
In the hour before each race, she does some stretches and goes for a 10-minute warmup run. Driver also runs through her dynamic warmups and stretches, which are essentially short sprints, in the moments before the starting gun.
Once the race begins, Driver taps into her adrenaline.
“Adrenaline usually gets me through the first and last laps,” Driver said. “These are usually my fastest laps because in the beginning I’m energized and in the end I’m not holding anything back and just giving everything I’ve got left.”
The laps in between are often the most difficult.
“I try not to think too much during the second lap, and it’s easier because my body’s not exhausted yet,” she said. “The third lap is when I really have to motivate myself to keep pushing. My coach calls it the ‘work lap.’ I tell myself that I want it more than my competitors, that I have more energy left than I think I do, and that I need to prove what I’m really made of.”
It’s never easy, but that’s what makes it worthwhile.
“My coach also told me that his coach used to yell at him, ‘Show me how much you can hurt’ which is another line that stuck with me,” Driver said. “You have to embrace the pain of the race.”
“If I finish a race and I don’t feel ready to collapse, I’m disappointed in myself because I didn’t work hard enough, and I think most competitive distance runners feel the same way.”
Next season, Driver will assume a new role when she becomes a team captain, but that’s a title she’s long been ready to hold.
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There are many goals she wants to achieve in her senior season, and not just in track. Driver is also a member of the Raiders’ cross country and Nordic ski team.
“In cross country, I’m hoping to break 19 minutes in the 5K,” Driver said. “The Nordic girls team won the state championship last winter, and none of our seven states skiers graduated, so it would be awesome to go back to back and do it again this coming year. In track, I’m really hoping to break five minutes in the mile.”
This was reposted with the permission of The Wellesley Townsman.