During training for the upcoming track and field season, associate head coach Wes Ashford approached junior Lorraine Fernandez and offered her a new challenge.
Fernandez, who also runs cross-country in the fall, runs the 5,000-kilometer race during track season.
The new challenge added 5,000 additional kilometers to her usual event. Fernandez had never raced the 10,000 km distance but accepted the challenge.
“I told him, ‘Yeah, I’d like to try it out,’” Fernandez said. “He (Ashford) set up my whole training schedule and prepped me really well so I could do well for this one particular race.”
The training required an increase in her weekly miles run to 80-85 miles per week.
In her first ever 10K race on Friday, Fernandez finished eighth out of 56 athletes with a time of 36 minutes, 5.4 seconds and secured a NCAA qualifying mark.
“I was very, very, very nervous,” Fernandez said. “My coach had just told me that I had put in all the work, so I really shouldn’t be that nervous, I just need to go out there and do it.”
Along with the difference in distance, the racing strategy is different in the 10K compared to the 5K.
“Racing wise, it also feels different,” Fernandez said. “You have to just be patient in the race because it’s a six-mile race. You have to be patient for five miles and the last mile you just got to give it all you got.”
Despite her junior standings, Fernandez has been a part of the program for four years and according to head coach Chris Bradford, the 10K represented her, “natural next step,” as an athlete.
“She’s continued to grow within the training and she’s shown that ability to handle a high level, a high volume of training,” Bradford said.
Fernandez is scheduled to run the 10K one more time before the national meet.
Fernandez described the need to keep her eyes up during the race and to remain aware of other runners despite her tendency to “look down at the floor” while racing.
“Each lap I’m going to set a new goal for myself. I’m going to pick off that girl the next lap, I’m going to get that girl next lap,” Fernandez said.
“I just need to work on the last mile. Knowing that I already did five, I should do the last one easily.”
For the second consecutive week, track and field competed on multiple fronts.
Fernandez and a handful of distance runners competed on Friday at the San Francisco State Distance Carnival and on Saturday, the majority of the team competed at UC San Diego at the California Collegiate Invitational.
Also, for the second consecutive week, the men’s team placed third overall.
“The meets at the end of the year that count are team competitions,” Bradford said.
Junior Shane Martin led the way for the Broncos with a first-place finish in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.30 seconds. Closely following Martin was freshman Kaelin Moore who placed third with a time 14.77.
Moore also placed third in the 400-meter hurdles.
Martin set a personal record last week with a time of 14.16 seconds and has placed in the top three at multiple events this season.
According to Martin, he did not get off to a good start on Saturday. His starts in general are the last area he needs to improve.
“Once I get my start dialed I think I can have the performance I’ve been looking for which is eventually sub-14,” Martin said.
On the women’s side, senior Alisha Greenlaw placed second in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.63.
Track and field will not be competing in a meet next week after competing in a meet every weekend since Feb. 24.
“Next week becomes an opportunity to get back to some quality training,” Bradford said.
“Also, get ourselves ready for that big push late in the season.”
Track and field returns to action April 13 for the Triton Invitational held at UC San Diego.
“I definitely think that helps refresh the body, refresh the legs, and kind of gives everybody a break,” Martin said.