One of Indiana's bright stars has already started the season off with a bang. At last Saturday's Joe Harvey Circle City Conference Championships, Lily Cridge opened the season with an amazing performance. Her 17:27 time on the challenging Brebeuf High School course was a PR, a course record, and currently the best time in the nation this season. This early season time might surprise some followers but it should not really shock anyone after her 10:03 commanding win in the 3200m at this past June's IHSAA State Finals.
Cridge missed the state tournament in cross country last fall and that might make it easy to forget that she was ranked at the top of the individual's list for most of last season and looked very strong through her last race. Her track season was outstanding and put her in the talk of national-level talent and the opportunity to become a potential Nike and Footlocker finals qualifier this fall. We caught up with Lily and her coach, Dan Kinghorn, after her amazing performance and checked on her summer training, her approach to the season, and of course asked about her dazzling performance.
Lily Cridge Profile:
3200m State Champion - 2021
800m PR - 2:16
1600m PR - 4:54
3200m PR - 10:03
5k XC PR - 17:27
MileSplit: What was your mindset going into Saturday's race?
Cridge: Going into Saturday, I really had no idea of how the race would look. My coach told me to just go out at a comfortable pace and just see what I can do. We knew going into the race it may not be a PR course because of the Brebeuf hills and the heat that day. However, I surprised myself with getting a PR this early in the season. But I know I just need to make sure I am staying physically and mentally healthy to prepare for a long season ahead.
MileSplit: Were you expecting to open up that fast this season?
Cridge: To be very honest, I was not. Since my cross country season sadly ended mid-October last year, I hadn't run a 5k cross country race in almost a year. So going into the race, I had my expectations set low. This honestly helped me a lot because I put no pressure on myself and just enjoyed being back in my happy place. I really just focused on running my own race and getting the feel of what I am capable of for this season.
MileSplit: Can you give us a brief recap of your track season and how you viewed it?
Cridge: My track season was a very slow and steady progression. I really just trusted my coach and his process. I actually was swimming once or twice a week for about two-three months which seemed to really help in a lot of different ways. Going into the season, I worked really hard all season and knew what I wanted to do at the end of it. I consistently was dropping seconds off my previous PR's every meet and was really starting to see results again. I also had the opportunity to run in the 4x800 with my teammates which made the season even more enjoyable. As I got closer and closer to State, I knew I had it in me. The hard part was over and now it was time for the fun part. After winning the State Title in the 3200 meters, it really didn't sink in until a few days after. I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that I was a State Champion. It was truly one of the best feelings I have ever had. After looking back on the season, I am very happy with how it went. I believe taking it slowly and trusting in my training was the key to my success. The whole season couldn't have gone better.
MileSplit: How has your summer of training started off heading into September?
Cridge: My training for cross country got off to a late start. Since I was invited to the Brooks PR Invitational Race in Seattle, Washington, I was training for that all throughout June and the beginning of July. I placed fourth at the meet and was very pleased with my placement. I took some time off and then slowly got back into it. Throughout July and August, training has gone very well. I think my biggest obstacle going into the season will be to not rush things too quickly since I am planning for a long season ahead.
MileSplit: What are some of your goals for the upcoming season?
Cridge: My goals this season include getting my girls team to State, to place top three at the State meet, and to make it to NXN or Footlocker. But most importantly, above all of these, is to stay happy and healthy, mentally and physically.
MileSplit: How do you and your coach prepare for the season and for big meets- both mentally and physically- during the year?
Cridge: Coach Dan and I usually do not taper too much before big competitions. We may have one or two workouts that week but that's it. However, I think we can both agree that going into a competition, we have done everything to prepare, as far as training. Mentally, my coach also reminds me to stay relaxed and to believe in myself. I think any athlete needs to believe that they can do their goals before they can even reach them. Coach Dan never puts any pressure on me nor my teammates and just reminds me that I have what it takes. My coach is one of the most important individuals in my life.
MileSplit: What are some of your key/favorite workouts?
Cridge: Some of my favorite workouts include mile repeats, a 200, 200, 800 interval workout, and tempo workouts. Some of the key workouts for myself include any type of speed work because I am a distance runner at heart. Even though I may not like these workouts, they do help a lot. They can include 400 or 800 repeats and any type of "ladder" workout.
MileSplit: Coach, can you give us some insight of what you think makes Lily so successful?Coach Kinghorn: Lily has been so much fun to coach. I've coached for many years, but I've never coached anyone that loves to run as much as Lily. She calls running her "happy place" and the tougher the workout, the longer the run, the more punishing the pace..the happier she is. That inner desire to continually explore her limits, I believe, is what makes her a special runner. That attitude has rubbed off on her teammates and raised the bar for the whole team, including the boys that she trains with.