Forecasts are calling for sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 60s for Des Moines on Thursday.
Adriana Kammerer can consider the picture-perfect weather prediction for her first career Drake Relays appearance compensation from Mother Nature for months worth of bone-chilling, wind-whipped, hand-freezing, face-numbing runs.
Regina coach Chad Swope considers it poetic justice for Kammerer, who logged hundreds of miles running through freezing temperatures this winter.
That work has paid off for the Regina distance ace who will make her Drake debut this week competing in both the 3,000 and 1,500 runs at the prep portion of the 106th Drake Relays that begins Thursday.
“The work that she has done, the dedication and time she has put in is incredible,” Swope said. “Getting to Drake that is just the icing on the cake for training by herself in the cold so I just love to see it pay off like this. She deserves it.”
Kammerer is no stranger to success on the track.
She qualified for the Class 2A state meet in both distance events last season, finishing fifth in the 3,000.
This year, Kammerer wanted more.
After cross country season ended, she switched up her training and kept racking up the miles.
Kammerer cut down on the indoor speed work she had done in the past and added more long distance runs, almost entirely outdoors .
As temperatures plummeted and snow piled up, Kammerer bundled up and kept going.
“I knew it was going to be really cold, but you just wear a lot of layers and hope your hands don’t freeze off,” Kammerer said. “My training really put me over the edge and built my confidence a lot.”
Senior Jacqueline Rapp joined Kammerer on her winter runs, and together the duo logged mile after mile.
Even on days when they acknowledged they probably shouldn’t head out on a run, they refused to back off.
“A lot of days we both wouldn’t want to do it but we would hold each other accountable,” Kammerer said. “That helped a ton.”
It didn’t take long for winter workouts to turn into results.
Kammerer shattered her own indoor school record in the 3,000 at the UNI Indoor Meet.
In the Regals’ first outdoor meet this season, Kammerer set a school record in the 3,000 with a time of 10:35.44.
“She came into the season in incredible shape and she did it all on her own, we don’t have any organized practices so it was all on her own,” Swope said. “She maintained the fitness level she had from cross country and just came into the season lights out.”
Kammerer ran a 4:52.37 in the 1,500 at Tipton just days after her school-record performance in the 3,000.
Both of those early seasons times helped her secure a spot in the Drake Relays, a longtime goal for one of the best distance runners in program history.
“It was a goal at the start of the season, I’ve always wanted to qualify for Drake,” Kammerer said. “At the beginning of the season I ran some pretty fast times and set my goals at getting to Drake.”
Kammerer enters the Drake Relays with the 18th fastest qualifying time in the 1,500 and the 16th best time in the 3,000.
Linn-Mar junior Stephanie Jenks has the fastest time in both events.
Jenks set the Drake Relays record in the 3,000 last season and has the fastest 1,500 in the nation this year at 4:40.78.
Kammerer is looking forward to the challenge of racing against the best competition in Iowa.
“I’m definitely excited to run against the girls in bigger classes, running with elite athletes everywhere you turn is cool,” Kammerer said. “All of the times are pretty close so I think it’s going to be a really fast race. It’s going to be fun to compete against girls that are better than me.”
Kammerer didn’t peg specific goals for her first trip to the Drake Relays, but she did say it makes the winter runs worth the while.
“I remember reminding myself this winter this is for Drake or this is for state it will be worth it,” Kammerer said. “I just kept having to tell myself that.”
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.