When it comes to running, Felicity West makes sure that she has the right mental approach just as she does from a physical standpoint.
“We did so much training for our bodies and just getting into physical shape for running, and the main thing I wanted to build on was my mental state because running definitely isn’t just physical, it’s all in your mind and you have to have a very strong mindset to be able to run those three miles efficiently,” West, a three-year cross country runner for the Northside Lady Bears, said.
She has also been relatively pleased with how her senior season has transpired up to this point. West has placed second in three different meets, including the runner-up position at last week’s 6A-Central conference meet held at Ben Geren Regional Park.
“It’s definitely been one of my best years that I’ve had,” West said. “Starting out with cross country my sophomore year in high school, this is kind of where I’ve hit my peak and I’m really happy about the performances that I’ve had so far this year.
“I’ve been able to improve on the things that I’ve wanted to improve on the most, which is just making sure I’m in shape, staying in shape, eating right, drinking right, all that good stuff that comes with running.”
On the subject of eating, West likes to eat a lot of carbohydrates but prefers not to eat anything after 8 p.m. Her favorite prerace food is Ramen noodles, which West noted was easy to make and has lots of carbs.
But West definitely wanted to maintain an appetite of possessing a strong mental side to her meets.
“Just keeping the mindset in that I know my ability and if I stop in the middle of a race or if I slow down or if I don’t give it my all, then I did not run to my fullest, and just trying to keep that mindset is what I’ve been trying to work on and make sure I’ve improved on and all that other stuff,” she said.
Now, she’s determined to give it her all for one more race, which will be the state meet this Saturday at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. West will be part of the 6A girls portion of the race, which gets under way at 12:30 p.m.
She does have some familiarity with the course. Last season, West placed 48th at state; then earlier this season, she ran at Oaklawn for the Lake Hamilton Invitational and got her personal-best time, running a 20:28.50.
“I’m hoping I can get up there and at least get into the top 10%,” she said. “I would also like to (set a personal record), in the low 20s maybe or even break 20; my PR right now is 20:28, so I would really like to get close to breaking that at least.
“The northwest Arkansas girls are very, very good, they’re very well-trained and it’s really hard to kind of bypass them and get past their ability, but the course, it’s nice to have the exact same course every single year (at state). So there’s no real surprises or anything unless it’s going to be rainy or muddy and I think the weather’s going to hold out pretty well in Hot Springs. ... I’ve been checking all week just to make sure.”
West originally grew up running track but started to gain an interest in cross country as a ninth-grader.
“I’ve always been a runner; I’ve always run track,” she said. “I remember coming up to coach (Jeff) Lewis (who coaches both track and cross country for the Lady Bears) for the ninth-grade regional track meet. ... I came up to him and I said, ‘Hi, coach Lewis; I would really love to be on your track and field team and what can I do to get started, I’m going to Northside next year.’
“Then he’s like, ‘How about cross country?’ I was like, ‘Wow, cross country,’ like it blew my mind and now I like it more than track, it’s my favorite and I’m glad that he has pushed me.”
Lewis, like his pupil, also thinks West’s chances at placing high this weekend at state will be very good.
“She has had a great season; each race, she’s ran faster than she did the previous week with the exception of conference, which was a mud fest,” Lewis said. “She could run very close to a 20 at state if the conditions are good, and if she has a great race, I believe she can run under 20 this year.
“Her work ethic is second to no one; she has a dream and she is chasing it.”
West, who still runs track for Northside, has other non-running related pursuits.
Her grade-point average is 4.02 and she is interested in studying forensic psychology in college, where West also hopes to continue to run track and cross country. She enjoys hiking, wakeboarding and traveling, as she has family in California, Texas, Georgia and the Carolinas.
Last month, West was even crowned Northside’s Homecoming queen prior to the Grizzlies’ Homecoming football game.
There is still literally one thing West wants to do before her cross country career as a Lady Bear comes to an end, which is finishing number one. She has yet to finish first at a meet.
“I was kind of hoping to do that during the conference meet, but because of the mud and that it was colder, and then the boys kind of tore up the track before we ran on it, which was difficult,” West said. “Races like that is where your mindset really has to stay strong because when your legs get tired and everything kind of goes numb, not just from like the running but also the mud and water and your feet just get so heavy.
“Then you have to remember that you’re running the same race that you’ve always run, the same distance; you just have to be a little stronger mentally and physically.”...