In no time, Richter's fitness trainer, Andy Cope, was at her house ready to go over strategy and remind her of how her hard work already had paid off.
"Mentally, Andy helped me with this race," said Richter after taking third at the championships on Tuesday, Nov. 8. "I was so nervous, a really big mess. Based on my conference performance, I didn't know what to expect."
Cope, a Randolph resident, served as psychologist in that instance. One of his other roles is to provide instruction, helping the runners he trains to reach their potential. Cope is known for giving each of his athletes a great deal of individual attention.
"I do a lot that's above and beyond," said Cope, who played football and wrestled at Randolph High School before his interests turned to marathons and Iron Man competitions. "With Colette, I talked about strategy and went over many of her performances. There's constant phone and e-mail contact."
Further proof of Cope's willingness to literally go the distance was when he walked, actually ran, in his pupils' shoes, running the course twice at Greystone Park the day before the county meet.
The top runners he trains - Richter, Hanover Park's Caroline Wolfe, Mountain Lakes' Jenny Picot, Voorhees' Harrison Brakewood and Mountain Lakes' Stephen Lewandowski - have found much success and have been piling up medals this fall.
"Ever since I've worked with Andy, my times have improved so much," said Wolfe, who posted a personal best 18:56.52 at the county championships. "Teams don't do the things he teaches us. I had never done strength training or conditioning. He tells us how to handle the races. I noticed improvement in about two months."
Cope is a modest man. He does not want all the credit for the runners' achievements. He calls what he does "a supplement" to what their high school coaches do. He strives to keep runners injury-free and healthy.
To do so, Cope stresses flexibility, mobility and balance. He has the teens go through running drills, work on form and addresses what he called "energy leaks," which are small segments of motion that can slow runners down.
Richter, for instance, rotates her left hip when she runs. Cope addressed that by having Richter do exercises to strengthen her hips. Wolfe's issue is overstriding, which means she comes down on her heels, leaving her foot on the ground longer. The remedy? "I got Caroline onto midfoot," Cope said.
Leg cranks, a series of squats in succession, are a big part of the runners' training.
"They can't breathe when they're done," he said.
When runners have their first session with Cope, he hands them massage sticks and has them roll them up and down their legs for five minutes to increase blood flow. As newcomers, they think it's odd but then they realize the value of it.
Cope said Richter, a junior, advanced so rapidly because of her commitment to getting better. Richter, Cope added, also benefits from having a mother, Marsi, who stresses healthy eating.
"The way Colette approached things got her over the top," Cope said. "She took charge and committed herself."
In the insurance business before becoming a trainer full-time, Cope made the switch after the passing of his 14-year-old niece, Amanda Osterby, in 2006. Amanda had leukemia.
"That showed me life is too short," Cope said.