By Brian Kapur: Current Newspapers
In previous years, National Cathedral coaches have nominated star runner Page Lester for the D.C. Gatorade runner of the year award. But each time, someone else ended up with the prize.
That all changed after her stellar spring season, with Lester recently breaking through as the District’s recipient of the girls track and field Gatorade award.
“It’s really cool,” she said in an interview. “I know there are a lot of really good sprinters and throwers in the area, so I didn’t expect to get it. It was a very nice surprise.”
The rising junior raced to first place in the 800- and 1,600-meter races at the Independent School League championships last spring. “That was really exciting,” Lester said. “I was really happy with that. It was also huge to get points for the team.”
In addition, she won the 1,600 at the prestigious Draper Invitational earlier in the season. Her strong performances have earned Lester the respect of her opponents.
“Even as an opposing coach, it was a joy to watch Page Lester compete,” Jason Dwyer, a coach from ISL foe Potomac School said in a news release. “She was unrivaled this year, and yet I never saw her ease up during any race.
She was also classy about competition and was very well respected by the other athletes in the league.” That selfless approach showed up when The Current asked Lester about her favorite moment from the season — it wasn’t one of her accomplishments, but a team win instead.
“Finding out that the [St. Albans] boys team won the [Interscholastic Athletic Conference] championship,” she said. “Originally, they lost by one point. But the coaches went back and looked at the score and found out they won by one point. It happened Saturday, and the coaches told the team on Monday.”
In addition to strong athletic performance, the Gatorade award takes into account academics and service work, and the Cathedral runner excelled in both. Lester posted a 3.51 GPA in the classroom and participates in National Cathedral’s chorus, which has cut into her running training on occasion.
“A few times, practice is cut short if we have to perform for a service or before a big performance,” she said. “It only happens like twice a season.”
Lester also volunteered with the Latino Student Fund and the Nation’s Capital Swim Club. The Cathedral runner comes from a family of athletes. Her mother, Hilary Cairns, is a triathlete, and her father, Malcolm Lester, is an ultra runner and formerlacrosse coach at St. Albans.
Her parents’ influence kept her heavily involved in sports, such as swimming and lacrosse. She also did 5K races for fun while growing up. That all changed prior to her high school days at National Cathedral.
“The summer before my freshman year, I got into triathlons, and running is a big part of that,” she said. “The cross-country team at my school is very big and has a really good reputation, so I decided to do that. It went really well, so I decided to do track.”
Lester runs for the Eagles in the fall on the cross-country team, then swims in the winter and again runs in the spring. It’s all a part of her constant training for triathlons. While working in the pool with the swim team helps, most of her triathlon competitions involve open water.
“It’s in a lake most of the time,” she said. “It’s gross. But it’s more exciting because it’s different every time.” In addition, she trains on her bike and works on the technique of drafting — using opponents and teammates to reduce wind resistance.
“You’re with people, and it’s fast, and you’re not out there alone, and you have people to work with in a pack,” said Lester. Training for such a variety of sports helped her avoid burnout.
“I’ve built a good aerobic base from years of swimming, and I swim and bike quite a lot, so my weekly running mileage is low,” she said in the release. “Additionally, I don’t get bored or burnt out because I’m never training exclusively for one sport.”
With such a wide array of talents, Lester will have options for doing a sport in college. But as a rising junior, she has yet to worryabout making that decision.
“I’m not completely sure yet,” she said. “I’d like to run in college, but I don’t know yet. I can run, swim, triathlon; I haven’t really narrowed down my options yet.”