XC Conference Championships 2016

Please pinch me; I’m pretty sure I’m dreaming.

Today was our conference race, and without further ado- We won individually and as a team, and I was the FIFTH scorer.

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I kind of can’t believe it.

We left campus yesterday morning, rode 5 hours in the vans, and pre-meeted the course in the afternoon.  While the course was at a beautiful state park, it was probably one of the hardest courses we’d ever encountered.  Winding, narrow trails with tricky footing, treacherous roots, rolling hills, and a crazy hill at two miles:

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After 5 miles, drills, and strides, we knocked all time goals out of our heads.  I had wanted to break 22, but I forgot all about that and zeroed in on my other goal– top seven.

We went to dinner (I had a lot of bread, bruschetta, and a chicken pesto pasta dish), did a bit of grocery shopping, and headed back to the hotel for the women’s team meeting.  We hadn’t tapered for conferences, with the focus being on regionals in two weeks.  We were expected to win, so our coach told us to use it as a hard effort and “practice” for regionals.  Get out well, settle in, and pack up.

To be honest, I was in a really weird funk the night before the race.  I felt so sad, and I had no interest in racing.  It was weird and unnerving.  I got a pretty good night’s sleep, though, and woke up this morning feeling a little more excited to race.  But I was kind of dreading the course.

We ran a 10-minute shakeout at 7 am, followed by a rope stretch and then breakfast.  I had the usual oatmeal with almond butter, a banana, cinnamon, and nutmeg, along with a vanilla Siggi’s and a splash of coffee.  My stomach was kind of in knots.

We headed to the course and got there about an hour and a half before the race.  It was windy and chilly, but the sights continued to astonish.  I had another half a banana and tri-berry Nuun.  Again we rope stretched and then headed for our warm-up.  Did drills, strides, and headed to the line.

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The gun went off, and I tried to establish my position but got jostled around on the first steep downhill.  I settled in around 35th place and maybe 10th for my team and didn’t really try to pass anyone until the mile mark.  Surprisingly, I found myself moving up really well as we hit some narrow rolling hills.  Just before 3k, I made contact with one of my teammates, and as we passed our coach, she screamed, “Good! You’re in sixth and seventh!”

That’s when I started thinking, “Whoa.  I could do this.”

There was an incredibly steep hill right after the two mile mark, and it sucked the soul right out of most of the runners.  Our coach had told us not to hammer up this hill-just get up and over it to avoid going lactic- and I kept that in mind as we started the ascent.  It hurt a lot.  We finally reached the top to find…more hills!  At this point, I surged on the smaller uphills, and a gap formed between my teammate and me, leaving me solidly in sixth for our team.

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The entire second half of the race, I mostly thought this: “OK, you are in the top seven and you are going to keep this position if it kills you!  Six minutes of pain left!  Suck it up and get to the finish!!”

I hit 5k, and it was hard to believe I had 1k to go.  I passed a few more girls and saw our fifth runner up ahead.  She has breathing issues and looked like she was struggling.  With 500 to go, I passed her up the last hill, willing her to come with me.  We rounded the last turn and shot out onto the finish straightaway.  I didn’t have the best kick today, but it was enough for seventeenth place overall, fifth place for the team, and a time of 22:31. I couldn’t stop smiling after I’d crossed the line.  For this insane course, I was so happy with it.  (My All-American teammate only ran mid-21s.) And I’m going to regionals!!

We only had time for a 20-minute cool down before the awards ceremony.  Afterwards, we packed up, and I headed home with my mom and spent the afternoon going to my brother’s game and gorging myself on food.  My mom is running the Marine Corps Marathon (her first marathon) tomorrow morning, and I’m staying to cheer her on!  I’m supposed to do a 3-5 mile shakeout run tomorrow, so I’ll try to plan my spectating route accordingly!  Then it’s back to campus for me– let’s hope I get on the right train this time.

Today was a great day!  I’m going to regionals!! (Sorry, I know I already said that, but I’m so excited!)  This was a dream that has gotten me through the hard, soul-crushing training cycles since the beginning of the summer, and now it’s starting to come true!

 

 

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Intervals and Fall Festivities

Good morning!  I hope everyone is having a great Sunday.  After a few weeks of nice, cool weather, the temperatures rocketed back up to the 80s throughout the past week, which was less than ideal.  Luckily, they’re trending back down, and it is currently 56 degrees and sunny in the ‘burg.  I’m currently hanging in my favorite coffee shop, and I thought I’d take a break from reviewing for my Gender in Society midterm to catch up on what I’ve been up to.

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On Friday afternoon, we worked out on the track…but it was probably the worst workout day we have had as a team this season.  Almost everyone struggled- some had breathing issues, some didn’t feel well, etc.

The workout: 7 x 1000 with the first two close to threshold pace, the next two a bit faster, the fifth one “controlled all-out”, and the last two a bit slower.  We also ran 2 very controlled 200s (38-40 seconds) before starting the 1000s.

I hit 3:31, 3:36, 3:36, and my peroneals were burning up a storm.  So I ran the fourth one clockwise in lane 3 alone…didn’t help.  It was my slowest.  I think I ran above 3:40.  No good.  I was pissed off that the workout wasn’t going to plan, so I reset mentally and got ready for the “controlled all-out” portion.  Focused on quick turnover and ran 3:26- hey, at least it was faster than the others!  I hit 3:36 and 3:33 for my last two to at least finish off the workout strong.

The positive news- I’d never done 7 x 1000 in my life, so even though the first half of the workout sucked, I was proud that I rallied in the second half, even if the paces weren’t quite there!

The past 36 hours have been jam-packed with amazingly cliché fall activities 🙂  To decompress after the workout, I cooked an amazing dinner alone in the dorm kitchen.  Pan-seared steak, sauteed spinach, brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes, all with olive oil, pepper, and garlic salt.  Afterwards, I went to my friends’ apartment and made some gigantic homemade chocolate peanut butter cups while we watched “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days.”

Saturday’s long run was quite rough, as I felt nauseous and cut it short at 10 miles.  Afterwards, though, one of my friends and I had a spontaneously lovely morning of brunch, the farmer’s market, and peanut shop samples 🙂

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The afternoon was spent on the ferry and at the pumpkin patch, and some of us went out to dinner to celebrate my friend’s 21st birthday!

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I should probably continue to study for my midterm, so that’s all for now.  I’m taking a complete off day today as I already hit about 55 miles for the week and should probably not go higher than that.  The conference race is this coming Saturday already!  Yesterday was chock-full of indulgences (pumpkin pie, cappuccinos, bacon, molten chocolate lava cake!), so it’s back on the healthy train until Saturday at least 😉

It’s been a great weekend with lovely friends, a bit of drama, beautiful weather, sweaters, and fall fun.

6k race (22:16)

Friday was my second 6k ever! And it went really well.

(First 6k ever– a year ago)

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I woke up early, like always, and laid in bed until it was time to shake out at 7:30 am. It was 35 degrees outside- definitely a change from back home!- but it felt really nice. After the shakeout, we rope stretched and ate breakfast before packing up and heading to the course around 9:45. Pre-race breakfast: plain nonfat Fage, oatmeal with a banana and Justin’s almond butter, and a bit of coffee. I also had half of another banana and lemon-lime Nuun closer to race time.

We got to the course, which is on a picturesque golf course, and we rope stretched, warmed up, and did drills and strides. At this point, the temperatures had reached the mid-40s, which actually felt pretty good!

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After a team huddle and stride back, we took off the last of our outer layers and got ready to roll. Honestly, I had a feeling this would be a good day. We had previewed the course multiple times, and while pretty much the entire last mile was uphill, we knew we could do it. After my last race, I had no expectations, and I was feeling a little nervous but also ready to “just run to your fitness level”, as my coach put it.

The gun went off, and I settled in pretty much right away. The plan was to go out relatively conservatively (compared to everyone else) because we knew that it would naturally be fast and we wanted to be able to rally in the second half. The first straightaway was kind of overwhelming, though, with hundreds of women stampeding down the golf course incline into a tight pass. On the first turn, we went from a sprint to almost a dead stop! I kept reminding myself to relax, relax, relax.

The first mile flew by, and it was so downhill that my 5:30something split felt like a 5:50 effort. Even going out in 5:30, I was still in like 150th place. I bunched up with two of my teammates during the second mile, and we came through two miles right over 11:30. Really started trying to pass people as the real hills began.

From 2.5 miles to the finish (6k, or 3.75 miles), there were three pretty intense hills. I dug deep and powered up the first one and told myself I’d be able to recover on the upcoming downhill. That didn’t work too well because I still felt very lactic when I hit the next hill, which was significantly longer, albeit less steep, than the previous one.

The last hill was half a mile long, and it hurt. A lot. Finally made it to the top and rounded the final turn, and we had a quarter mile to go. I kicked with what I had left, and with about 25 meters to go, my teammate (who has a notoriously lethal kick) flew by me. I went with her as much as I could, and we ended up passing a couple other girls before the finish. We finished together in 22:16, which was a 36-second PR for me, a minute PR for her, 5:58 average pace, and converts to an 18:21 5k!

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Happy after big PRs 🙂

Afterwards, we cooled down for about 3 miles, did 4 strides, and cheered on our men’s team, who had a 19-second spread between runners 1-5 over the 5.2 mile race! I downed a vanilla Siggi’s yogurt, rope stretched for a bit, took some pictures, and finally we headed to get food. Stopped at Wegmans for the third time in two days 😉 I treated myself to a pretty amazing post-race meal of a chicken pot pie, sautéed garlic kale, mac and cheese, a cranberry Kombucha, and a Wegmans pumpkin muffin. On point.

Overall, this race was a giant step in the right direction. It was the biggest cross country race I’ve ever participated in (I finished 136th). I’m happy with a PR and know that there’s more in the tank. I’m also thrilled that my teammate and I, who were the two slowest walk-ons entering our freshman year, finished as the seventh and eighth runners for our team!! I think my coach’s philosophy of “we don’t need anyone to run out of their minds. Just run what you are physically capable of” really helped me stay calm and focus on race day.

Now for the not so good news- ended a relationship on Friday night, and the past 1.5 days have been pretty rough.  A veritable rollercoaster of emotion.  Doesn’t help that I’m 100% sleep-deprived.

Travel adventures

(This was written yesterday evening)

Happy hump day! My team is currently en route to Penn State, where ten men and ten women will be racing on Friday. The WiFi on the bus isn’t working, so I can’t do homework…what a shame, right 😉

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Fall break was fun! (I do have a ridiculous travel story.) I took another complete off day on Sunday, so most of the day was spent doing some of my favorite activities. My mom was doing her longest long run of marathon training (23 miles!!), so I met her about 5 miles in to pick up my dog and deliver her water belt and sunglasses.

fullsizerenderAfterwards, I made pumpkin waffles for breakfast and then went to my favorite farmer’s market! I also had brunch at a favorite hipster coffee place with one of my good friends. Afterwards, I went to Trader Joe’s and Victoria’s Secret (hey, gotta take advantage of the 7/$27.50 sale while it lasts!).

Lunch: lemon blueberry scone, almond milk cappuccino, and a spinach, cheddar, and poached egg breakfast sandwich on a honey IPA roll. Not exactly the most balanced meal, but it was amazing.

Anyway, travel story: I was supposed to be back on campus by Sunday night, since we had morning practice on Monday and Tuesday. So I made plans to take the train back on Sunday night. Unfortunately, I ended up getting on the wrong train (I got to the station right as the train was loading, and it matched my ticket so I got on). The conductor didn’t check tickets for a while, and at some point I noticed that we were going too far west. When he did check tickets, he said I was on the wrong train and that he would sort it out. I’m not the type of person to freak out over travel disruptions, and I figured I’d get to my destination eventually, so I just stayed calm.

The conductor came back and said I should get off at the next stop and he had rerouted my ticket for a bus that would take me halfway to my destination, and then there would be another bus that would take me the rest of the way. At this point, we were about two hours into the journey. I got off the train at the next stop, and sure enough, there was a bus that took me to the next point. However, when I got to the station and asked the clerk about the next bus, she looked at me funny and said, “I don’t know why they told you that. There’s a train tomorrow morning, but no bus tonight.”

Great.

 At this point, it was 9 pm, and I was stranded two-thirds of the way to campus. Still wasn’t freaking out, though, because luckily my roommate lives close to where I was.   She was already on campus, but I called her parents and spent the night at their house. Took the train the next morning, so I missed practice, but at least I eventually got to campus!

So, yeah. While fall break was relaxing schoolwork-wise, it was a tiny bit stressful travel-wise 😉 Oh, well! It was great to be home for a little bit.

Tuesday’s workout- the last before Penn State- went pretty well. We warmed up for 3 miles and then did 2×400, 5×800, 4×400 on an 800m grass field. With the grass, we were a little slower than on a track. We were a few seconds off the range that the coaches gave us, but we stayed consistent, and I thought we did well.

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Splits: 82, 82, 2:53, 2:53, 2:53, 2:57, 2:54, 81, 80, 79, 79. Personally, the fourth 800 was a struggle, but I pulled it together for the fifth one. We had 60 seconds of rest between the first set of 400s and 90 seconds between everything else (except for 2 minutes before the last 400).

This morning, I ran 5 miles on the trails, and I was definitely tired from the workout. That’s okay, though.

Side note: guess who’s gone 5 straight days without Wawa (me)! I’ve stuck to my 8 oz coffee limit for almost a week. Yesterday, I didn’t even have any. #killingit

Autumnal

It’s fall break!!  After an incredibly stressful week, I am now home for a quick 24 hours and plan on soaking in autumn and decompressing as much as possible 🙂  Currently lying in bed drinking lemon ginger tea following an amazing Irish dinner- corned beef, cabbage, and roasted potatoes and vegetables, followed by freshly baked apple crisp.

It’s good to be home 🙂

As I mentioned previously, the past week has been hard.  Everything seemed to happen all at once.  School round-up: Hispanic Studies paper due, followed by a Gender in Society paper, followed by an accounting midterm, an unnecessarily vicious problem set, a Spanish midterm, and a presentation.  I am generally pretty good about balancing schoolwork and stress levels, but this week was something else.  I just tried to take it day by day, and I ended up surviving and getting decent grades on both midterms!  Not sure about the other grades yet.

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Studying and lunching

Running-wise, with three weeks between races, we’ve been in the midst of a particularly meaty training block.  Workouts have been hard.  Thankfully, our lifting instructor has started to taper our weight room routines in preparation for our upcoming races.  This has been sort of fun!  We’ve been focusing on the quality, not quantity, of our lifts, and on Thursday, after completing the requisite 2 sets of 5 chin-ups unassisted, our lifts instructor had me do an extra set with chains!

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I felt pretty darn badass afterwards

The past two weeks have been interesting in that I’ve hit higher mileage within 6 days and therefore have gotten two weeks in a row with a complete off day!  Last week, I hit 59 miles by Saturday, so I took Sunday off.  Same thing happened this week:

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Monday: AM: 3 miles + core. PM: 2 lap w/u, form and hurdle drills, speed ladder, 7 miles, 6 x 100m strides, upper body circuit.  Total = 10 miles.
Tuesday: 3 mile w/u, drills/strides, 3 x [1000, 800, 400] on the track with 2-3 min rec and a lap on the turf between sets, 3ish c/d.  Struggled with some dizziness in the second half, so my 3rd 800 was a 600.  Overall a weird workout.  Lower body lift + stretch/roll in weight room.  Ice bath.  Splits below.  Total = 10 miles.

  • Set 1: 3:33, 2:43, 78
  • Set 2: 3:28, 2:45, 80
  • Set 3: 3:33, idk, 76

Wednesday: 6 solo miles trails.  A bit tired.
Thursday: AM: 2 lap w/u, drills, 7.5ish miles, 4 x 150m strides, upper body lift in WR (with chainz).  PM: 3 miles + core.  Total = 11ish miles.
Friday:  3.5 mile w/u, drills, 4 mile tempo on wooded gravel trails (very twisty/hilly so ran about 26 minutes but thought I rallied well on the hills), 6 x :60h with :60-2:00 rec, 20 min c/d.  Ice bath. Total = 11 miles.
Saturday: 11 miles on trails and battlefield loop.  Ice bath.
Sunday (planned): off day with a bit of yoga/stretching

Total: 59 miles

I think I’m just kind of in a rhythm with training/doubles now.  Haven’t really felt the need to go above 60 mpw, so I’m content with taking another complete rest day 🙂 In fact, I didn’t even bring my running shoes home!

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Other thoughts:

  • Our next invitational is in six days!  I’m going to focus on recovery until then.  I’m thankful that this last week of school was the hard one, and hopefully I can stay on top of schoolwork while also relaxing in the coming days/weeks 🙂
  • Goals for the next race:  Go out conservatively.  I want to be able to rally and have a strong second half.
  • I’d like to decrease my coffee consumption- not that 16 ounces per day is nearly as bad as some people, but ideally I’ll get down to 8 ounces.  One cup and no more.  Although Wawa’s $1 any size coffee month is making that difficult 😉 But I’ve done it for 3 days in a row now!
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  • Along the same vein, I haven’t been super frugal recently…but I’ll try my hardest to rein in the grocery spending.  Or so I say…
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I adore fall.  And good friends and food.

That’s all for now!  I hope to write more soon 🙂