Goodbye Norwalk XC and Track

Chloe Zako’s (’23) story of her journey with cross country and track


         The first time hearing the gun for my race was filled with anxiety and nerves. The after feeling was filled with joy and thrills. Joining the indoor distance track team my freshman year was my first thought about my love for running. I was the only girl on the team which was scary but the boys made me feel welcomed. Running by myself on road runs was an eye opening experience. This is when I would experience the “runner’s high” and it was the best feeling. Not only did I discover how much I loved running but I also discovered that I want to continue running forever. 


          I was ready to start outdoor track until lockdown hit. That created a set back on many other athletes and the track program. Although, it was a difficult time.. I decided to use that time to keep running. I would run 13-16 miles every week and it made a huge difference in my lockdown experience. It was an escape from what was happening in the world. It distracted me and created a positive mindset with running and working out. 


         The upcoming years, I continued to run for indoor and outdoor track. I would run the 600, 800, 1000, and the 1600. My favorite was the 1600. I created friendships and bonds which were all close knit since our team was smaller. Everyday, I was excited for practice and it was something that I always looked forward to. My first ever outdoor meet, there were nerves that I never had before. The anxiety running through my body when I am on the starting line. Running is 80 percent mental. For races, I have learned to talk to myself in a positive way to run the best I can. My sophomore year, my mindset during races was difficult. Telling myself this was too hard and I can’t do it. I overcame that mindset throughout my next years of track.


           After my junior year of outdoor track, I decided to run full year. I made the switch from field hockey to cross country. This was the best decision that I ever made. Who would have thought that I would be running full year and loving every second of it? The summer going into my senior year, I was announced captain for both cross country and track. Holding captain practices all summer was unforgettable. The idea of running 4-6 miles for practices seems miserable but it was the most fun ever. Creating bonds with my teammates and seeing everyone improving felt like an accomplishment. The fall season had the best vibes. Running in the perfect weather with leaves on the ground. The city hall runs and mile repeats were difficult but it not only helped me, but it helped my team. Bus rides and pasta parties were my favorite part of the entire season. I will never forget all of our laughs and inside jokes. Even though it was my first year of cross country…it felt like it was my fourth. 


         Indoor season arrived and I was nervous. Why? You may ask…because the indoor season is difficult. Running in the freezing cold everyday and overcoming the harsh winds was not easy. Although, I am forever grateful that my team and I still committed to hit because we would not have been where we are today if we did not. Outdoor season is here. Spring!! One of the best times of the year. All of the girls were excited to start a new season and new practices. Every single one of us made PRs and improvements this season. We may be the underdogs of the FCIAC conference but individually, we are not. Every. Single. Day. I saw improvements and I noticed that my teammates never gave up. Even when the coach made us run 16 laps non stop…I never saw anyone give up. All I saw was the encouragement from others. 


         My favorite part of track meets was seeing all of my teammates cheering for everyone. Even if they were not Norwalk. As a runner, cheers go a long way. Hearing “You got this!” or “You are almost there! Keep going!” does something. The positive output from this team is amazing. It pushes you pass your limits and help you become the person you never thought you would be. I would have never thought that I would be improving my mile time with 20 seconds off from the beginning of the season. There can be doubts in your head while running. Although with the people cheering you on, it helps you create positivity in your head while running. 

      Before I end this off, I wanted to do a couple shoutouts to some people in track. Shoutout to Coach Carlos for being an amazing Coach and being the number one person who got me into long distance running. I would not be where I am without you. Shoutout to Kyle Mancini for teaching me to never give up and to always tell yourself “you can do this.” Shoutout to Danielle Garcia for being my great co-captain and helping me with little things (where a meet is or team eats lol). Shoutout to Julia Newman for being my running buddy throughout all three seasons. Thank you for making me laugh right before the starting line! Shoutout to Devon Small for being a secret sprinter and teaching me to run on my toes! ILY DEV. Shoutout to Joy Weng for being the fastest freshman I have ever seen…you are going to be crazy fast as a senior! Shoutout to Andie Daignault for always pushing me past my limits and playing my favorite song during my races! Shoutout to Colin Duff for the encouragement in every single track meet. As well as, running three races even when you did not want to. Shoutout to Jocelyn Mejia for always being the hype man before our races. You always made a smile on my face. Lastly, shoutout to the entire Norwalk Track Team and Coaches. You are amazing. Shoutout to all of the track families for coming to meets and being the most supportive parents ever! We could not have done it without you. 


           Norwalk Cross Country/Track will always hold a special place in my heart and I am grateful for the past four years. I am now running Umass club in the fall and I cannot wait! Thank you for the memories you have made and the friendships created. Much love…signing off, Chloe Zako 🙂