By the time sophomore Jessica Pascoe reached the 2700-meter mark, the discomfort in her heel was too much to handle. Just under 11 minutes into the NCAA South Regional Championship on Nov. 10, Pascoe retired to the sidelines to nurse the stabbing pain in the back of her foot.

It would be Pascoe’s last meet of the season, with the women’s team finishing 22nd and the men finishing 15th in the event, putting both teams out of the running for the NCAA Championships.

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“We’re not satisfied, or I guess even that pleased with the overall team results,” assistant coach Chris Solinsky said.

The meet marked the men’s team’s first 10K race of the season. Solinsky readied the team with a warning concerning the toughness and endurance of the run.

“Coach prepared us for that,” redshirt freshman Marshall Dillon said. “He said ‘Expect it to be the worst pain you’ve ever felt, and anything less (than) that will be a pleasant surprise.’”

Though the teams did not advance to the NCAA Championships, both the men and women claimed top-10 finishes in the Mountain Dew Invitational and FSU Invitational.

The Gators will now turn their focus to the indoor track and field season, which begins in January. As the teams look forward to a two-week break, Solinsky sees the indoor track and field season as the next step toward the teams’ success.

“I look at it as every season builds on itself,” he said. “What we do in cross (country) helps us in indoor, what we do in indoor helps us in outdoor, what we do in outdoor helps us for the next year’s cross country season.”

The UF women’s team struggled with injuries throughout the fall season. Solinsky is relying on the two-week break to heal some of the minor and major afflictions the runners have dealt with.

“Even if we have a few issues on-going, we’ll make sure to be smart on how we start training and hopefully put all this behind us,” Solinsky said. “(We’re) looking forward, not behind.”

Included in this list is Pascoe, who struggled the past couple of weeks with pain in the heel and arch of her foot. A foot injury is nothing new for the Australia native, who dealt with tendonitis at the close of last year’s cross country season. After sitting out for the 2017 track season, Pascoe doesn’t plan to let her current position stop her from running with the Gators this year. She expects to make her return in January, this time with a new attitude that focuses on the mental aspect of the race.

“(Looking) forward, one race isn’t going to define me,” Pascoe said. “If I have to take time, a little bit longer than a two-week break, I will and just cross train, and I’ll get back.”

The Gators will begin training after Thanksgiving for their first meet at the Orange and Purple Classic, hosted by Clemson, on Jan. 6. Solinsky plans to emphasize more speed-oriented training as the team makes the switch to the indoor track season.

“The nice thing for our distance runners is they’re three-sport athletes,” Solinsky said. “It’s a labor of love. They’re constantly going, I would say, rain or shine, they’re out there training.”

You can follow Alana Gomez on Twitter @alanaa_gomez, and contact her at agomez@alligator.org.

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