Salute to Seniors - Anne McKee (Kents Hill School)

Name: Anne McKee
School: Kents Hill School

What was your most memorable race/moment? My most memorable race would have to be the 3200m at states my sophomore year. Three days before the race, I woke up with an unexplained searing pain in my left foot. Walking, let alone running, was difficult (and impossible without limping) in the days leading up to this race I had been anticipating all year. I was a wreck going into Saturday. But race day came and I knew I had to go, no matter what. As I went to warm up for the 1600m, my hopes that an icy hot patch and a significant amount of rest would subside all pain - but I was wrong. Two minutes into my warm up jog, limping along was my only option. With tears in my eyes and all confidence lost, I approached the starting line nevertheless, but desperately unsure if I would even be able to finish the race. The race ran its course and I could barely notice my foot through the adrenaline. But my foot, and a lot of stress going into the race, wouldn't allow me to respond to the breakaway pack midway through lap three. I ended the race in barely a jog, all I could muster. I was crushed. But I knew I had to at least shoot for a chance for redemption. Although that 1600m was not a race I was proud of, there was something to be said for the fact that I had actually made it through. My coach, my dad, my teammates tried to console my pitiful state and suggest I just call it a day, pack it in, that I was lucky to have made it through one race, rather than put myself through the ensuing hell of 11 or 12 minutes. But I couldn't just back out. Next thing I knew I found myself on the line of the 3200m a couple hours later. This time, I had a clear head. I was excited, not nervous. I was ready. The gun went off and I trailed the leader for six laps before taking the lead on the homestretch. It was electrifying. I can still remember the feeling of gratefulness, relief, and complete elatedness as my body collapsed after crossing the line - in first place.

Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years? Since middle school, my biggest rival has been Anne Guadalupi of Cony. I could always count on her to push me to my absolute limit in every single race from start to finish. And all the while, she is one of the sweetest and most determined individuals I have ever met and I am so lucky to call her a close friend of mine. Laken Kerrigan of Seacoast, Hannah Steelman, Lily Koffman, Tia Tardy, and Kassidy Dill of Orono, Hannah Austin of NYA, Tessa Cassidy of Brunswick, Lauren Brown and Cecilia Morin of Waterville, among many many others, have also been great competitors and friends of mine who I've had the privilege of getting to know over the past four years.

What was your greatest accomplishment? My greatest accomplishment would have to be balancing everything (running, violin, AP classes, clubs...) in high school without going completely insane in the process.

If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school? I wouldn't change anything.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome? Having hip and knee problems my junior and senior years of cross country really tested me as a runner and person. Not being able to run for weeks on end - especially during big meet season - was torture for me. However, these injuries forced me to become a better captain/team supporter, appreciate the runs I was able to do, learn how to use the dreaded elliptical, and, above all, foster an even greater love for the sport and those who stood by me through the hard times.

What will you miss the most? I will miss the Maine running community more than anything. Hands down, best group of people. There is just something about going to a meet and having some of your greatest competitors your best friends. I've made extremely special, irreplaceable bonds with athletes all around the state. I can't imagine any other sport that has the camaraderie this running family does.

What advice you would give to younger athletes? No, not every race is going to be another PR. No, that sub-whatever time goal you've set for yourself senior year is not guaranteed to happen. No, not every season is going to be a championship-winning one full of fireworks. Challenges, big and small, are going to continually test you. It is so easy to get caught up in that one race that completely tanks (we all have had at least one), or a goal that just doesn't come together for some reason, or even a whole season that just kind of sucks. Setbacks are an inevitable part of any successful running career. In order to become a better athlete, you must accept them, take from them what you will, and move on. The sooner you move on, the better. But one thing is for sure - these challenges WILL make you stronger in the long run (hah).

What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals? My coach, Mike Toomey, has been hands-down the best coach I could ever ask for. Having him come to Kents Hill my sophomore year was a complete game-changer for me in both track and cross country. His passion for the sport and drive to win was incredibly contagious and his sarcastic and fun remarks made every single practice more enjoyable, even the 80-degree speed workout ones. He has left an indelible mark on my running career, the Kents Hill cross country and track teams, and the school itself. I cannot thank him enough.

What are your college plans? I will be running all three seasons at Bowdoin College.

Who else would you like to say thank you to? I would like to thank my family: my sister for all the pre-race sweater runs and gatorade trips, sense of humor about racing, and tripping (or almost tripping) on almost every single woods run; my mother for her enthusiasm and thousands of pictures at every meet, countless jackets and hats at the finish (even at her own expense in freezing weather), acting like she knew what I was talking about in a race recap, and her outstanding vegan cooking; and my father for timing my workouts at the track even when headlamps were needed, the runner genes, being the one person who really 'understood' after the teary races, and the amazing focus and drive of his that has inspired me to do my best.

Is there anything else you'd like to add? Derek Veilleux - you are incredible. The huge amount of time you've spent dedicated to Milesplit has facilitated the hundreds upon hundreds of hours spent 'stalking' by high school runners all over the state. Yes, in-school and homework hours too, of course. I am completely indebted to all the effort you've put into race interviews, rankings, photos, results, athlete profiles...the list could go on and on. Other states' Milesplit pages are nowhere near as comprehensive and pro. Thank you.

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