Posted Nov. 12, 2014
Cross country wasn’t Holden’s first choice. She began her athletic career at Wellesley High on the field hockey team, where she discovered she had a knack for running.
Needing to find a permanent after school activity, Holden took the advice of her mother, who helped out with a club cross country team and suggested she give it a try.
“I really enjoyed the experience, the demands and the camaraderie of the team,” said Holden, now a sophomore. “It was then that I decided to try both indoor and outdoor track.”
Holden is in her first year on the Raiders’ cross country team, and she’s now an all-season runner for Wellesley High, taking part in the indoor and outdoor track seasons as well.
So far, it’s been a perfect fit.
“I really enjoy running competitively, so I run all three seasons for the high school,” Holden said. “In the winter I do indoor track and in the spring I do outdoor track. Cross country helps me build endurance for track and toughens me up for intense training.
“I love the feeling of being part of a team. I feel extremely close to everyone on the team and value the friendships I’ve made. I enjoy the sport and the feeling of running, including the tough work and the personal success that comes with it.”
All of Holden’s tough work has paid off this fall as she helped the Raiders to an 8-3 record. She came in 44th individually and was part of Wellesley’s fifth place finish as a team at the Division 2 State Championship Meet last weekend.
“The top four teams move on, so coming so close was very tough,” Holden said.
“However, I am very proud of the way our team ran and many of us ran our personal records.”
Due to an illness, Holden and many of her teammates suffered setbacks during the season. Last year, Holden recorded a personal best time of 15:17 in the 4K, but because of her midseason sickness, her time suffered by over one minute, falling to 16:18 this fall.
“Setbacks happen and it is important to move on and stay optimistic,” said Holden. “Despite all of the individual setbacks on the team, we tied for the [Bay State Conference] Herget title.
“For every single race this season, at least one of our top runners was sick or injured. However we came out of the season with an outstanding record in spite of the setbacks.”
Holden feels a lot of the credit for the Raiders’ perseverance belongs to their coaches.
“(Divisionals) was the first time this season that all top performers ran in the same race,” she said. “At the meet most of us achieved our seasonal bests. Of course, we would have loved to continue on, however we all put in our best efforts and in my mind came out with a personal win.”
Those wins happen on the course during each race but Holden likes to think that every victory is earned in practice. She is a fierce competitor and that drives her to push herself during every training session.
“I believe that winning is made in practice and in cross country, as in all sports, there are no shortcuts,” Holden said. “The challenge is working hard to be your best, even in challenging circumstances.
“If you’re not hurting you’re not trying hard enough. So in the middle of the race when I’m hurting, I remind myself that there are only a few minutes of pain left, and in those last minutes, I better make it hurt the most.”
Holden and her teammates keep a busy schedule during the cross country season, running six days a week with a day off on Sunday. They have two to three workouts every week, coupled with races, so there isn’t much time for much else. But schoolwork always remains a priority.
“I’m careful to do my schoolwork early so that I don’t get overwhelmed with my schedule,” Holden said.
Through the highs and lows of her first year on the course, Holden has grown stronger, and she thinks that the Raiders’ best days are ahead of them.
“We are a young team and have great opportunities in the next couple of years together,” said Holden. “Toward the end of this season I did not run as well as I had hoped, however the experience and training that I gained were very helpful for me to run as well as I could.”
She’s only a sophomore, but Holden hopes to continue running for many years as the sport has done so much for her both physically and mentally.
“When you’re not at your best you have to work your hardest,” said Holden. “As tough as the sport is, the hardest part is mental. I work hard on not getting down on myself when faced with the toughness and work hard at keeping myself and my teammates up.”
This was reposted with the permission of The Wellesley Townsman.