Stillwater's Analee Weaver crosses the finish line after her record-breaking run (Photo courtesy Weaver family)
Analee Weaver awoke in the wee hours Thursday morning, having dreamt about the cross-country race that lay in front of her later that day.
The Stillwater senior, the defending Class 2A state champion, had done everything possible to get ready. She’d been training with the boys, alternating brutal workouts with easy ones, paying special attention to her mental approach. The 5K course at Forest Lake Middle School was suited to her strengths. This was a chance, she believed, to do something special.
“Our assistant coach, Rob Greer, told me ‘You’re in the best shape of your life’,” Weaver said. “That prepared me.”
Weaver thought back to her dream. “In it, I ran like a 16:44 [5K],” she recalled. “I felt worn out. Then I realized I hadn’t run the race yet. But then I knew I was ready. I knew if I was mentally tough, I would be physically tough.”
She went out Thursday afternoon and didn’t just reach her dreams, she surpassed them. Weaver covered the windy 5K course in a time of 16:42.6, setting a new Minnesota girls’ high school record. She obliterated the previous record of 16:55, set in 2018 by Emily Covert of Minneapolis Washburn. Her time was the fourth-best time in the nation this year.
“I still haven’t processed it,” Weaver said. “It was like what happened at state last year. The best times, I don’t realize how good they are when I’m running. It’s almost like I’m dreaming them.”
Going in, Weaver anticipated plenty of pain, the price exacted when shooting for an elite time.
“I was prepared to feel pain. I knew it would be hard,” she said. “I knew it was going to hurt.”
Thing is, she didn’t struggle as much as she thought. It was mostly on the middle third of the race, running into a stiff breeze, that she leaned most heavily on her mental training. “With about 600 meters to go, that’s when the wind was the worst,” she recalled. “It felt like I was running into a brick wall.”
Then the course changed directions, the wind was no longer in her face and Weaver hit the gas. With teammates, fans and race personnel cheering her every step, she began to gain strength. She was still getting stronger as she hit the finish line, her record time looming large over her shoulder.
“I could feel myself getting stronger,” she said. “I’m so grateful for all of my teammates and everyone at the race who were cheering me on. They really motivated me.”
Weaver said she and her teammates were disappointed when they heard earlier in the day that the Minnesota State High School League declined to consider a state meet this year. That made her record-breaking run all the more important.
“It was devastating and sad because our team looking forward to going out and competing against the best,” said Weaver, who will compete at Brigham Young University next year. “This was kind of like a light in the darkness. To have my name on top of the list, it’s really cool. It just goes to show, if you work hard, good things happen.”