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La Jolla Athlete of the Week: Bishop’s School runner Maddie Cramer is ready to go the distance

“Running track is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical,” says Bishop's School runner Maddie Cramer.
(Courtesy of Dave Siccardi)

In the 2006 Disney-Pixar movie “Cars,” main character Lightning McQueen gears up for a race by taking a moment to himself and whispering the word “speed.”

Maddie Cramer, a student at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla who will be a senior next school year, says with a laugh that this is a perfect analogy to how she readies for a race, whether it be a sprint or cross country.

“Running track is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical,” she said. “A lot of it is giving it your all every time, knowing you are going to be tired and pushing through that and not letting yourself give up. There is a lot of mental toughness and preparing for the race when you are nervous.”

For her own pep talks before each meet, Maddie reminds herself that she has trained for whatever lies ahead, and to focus on her breathing.

“I tell myself to give it my all and I can only do what I can do,” she said. “Having confidence in myself and being grateful to be able to run this season and go out and compete is a big part of it. It’s exciting to have that opportunity, and I want to make the most of it.”

The courses and distances she takes on run the gamut.

In the 200-meter run, she placed second in CIF San Diego Division III. In the 400-meter run, she recently won the CIF San Diego Division III title, running a season-best time.

In the 800-meter run, Maddie is ranked No. 1 in the county and No. 9 in the state. She also is considered a key member of Bishop’s four-by-400 relay team.

Each race, Maddie said, calls for a different mindset. The 200-meter dash calls for a powerful sprint right out of the gate and maintaining it. The 400-meter run calls for knowing how to run the nearly quarter-mile, such as when to pick up speed and when to maintain so as not to burn out. The 800-meter run calls for “the most mental toughness” because “you go into it knowing you are going to be tired in the end.”

Yet each time, Maddie said, she feels prepared, largely due to the work she puts in and the support of her sprint coach, Aisha Cavin Baldez.

“Her support this year has been incredible,” Maddie said. “I’ve developed amazing relationships with my coaches, which has been so important. They made sure we’re still training and working. [Cavin Baldez] worked us hard in a good way, and I’m grateful.”

Cavin Baldez said it’s been a pleasure working with Maddie this year. “She has a positive attitude that in turn encourages her teammates to face the workout with confidence,” she said. “Maddie is a natural leader who steps up to lead warm-ups, stretches and drills alongside her co-captains. She never complains about the workouts and always strives to do her best, as she is a role model for many of our younger student-athletes. Maddie is determined, diligent, hard-working and an enjoyable person to have on the Bishop’s track and field team.”

In coming weeks, Maddie will participate in the invitation-only California State Championships at Arcadia High School near Pasadena and the Nike Outdoor Nationals at the University of Oregon.

“Track is an in-the-moment-type sport,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to being in these meets and running against the best people.”

When she isn’t on the track, Maddie is a member of the Friends of Coast Walk Trail Squad, which helps make repairs to La Jolla’s Coast Walk Trail. She also volunteers with the Challenged Athletes Foundation and its camp for people with physical disabilities, and is a counselor for San Diego Parks & Recreation Department day camps. ◆