Thanksgiving and season wrap-up

Happy Monday! aka the time of year when it is finally socially acceptable to listen to Christmas music.  Due to a fire on campus, the power is out as I’m typing this, so there’s a bit of an eerie vibe.  I also realized how woefully unprepared I am for winter when I had to scrape frost off my car this morning using an old Sweet Frog gift card and a wooden spatula.  #nice.

After five days at home, I woke up at the crack of dawn on Sunday to avoid hitting the post-Thanksgiving traffic on the drive back to school.  I didn’t want to leave that early, but I made a pit stop at Starbucks to motivate myself 😉  It ended up being a good choice because the traffic report on the interstate turned completely red later in the day.


Thanksgiving break was pretty great.  I drove home last Monday after class and got home in time for dinner!  I hadn’t been home since August and was feeling extremely homesick and burnt out on campus.  After a crazy couple years, my family is feeling a little more “settled”, so even though I’ve been out of the house for longer, it felt more like coming home.  On Tuesday, I ran for the first time since regionals- 30 minutes felt decent, but new strength circuits afterwards killed me off and I could hardly walk on Wednesday!  I ran with a friend on the canal on Wednesday, and it was beautiful outside.

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My family went to a local family friend’s house for Thanksgiving like we do almost every year.  This year, there was quite an eclectic gathering of 20 people.  But it somehow all worked! IMG_9789.jpgThere was an incredible amount of food- two turkeys, three kinds of stuffing, two types of mac and cheese, an addictive sweet potato/brown sugar/pecan casserole, cranberry sauce, roasted vegetables, rice, gravy, salad, mashed potatoes, butternut squash and kale casserole, rolls…the works.  And for dessert: chocolate mousse made by yours truly, pumpkin pie made by my pie-connoisseur-brother (he bruleed the top with a blowtorch), homemade whipped cream, apple crisp, and lemon bites.  Additionally, approximately 15 bottles of red wine were consumed.


Making homemade whipped cream!

Overall, it was a great Thanksgiving.  So much to be thankful for. 🙂  My brother, dad, and I went hiking and rock scrambling on the Billy Goat Trail on Friday and then went out for pho to warm up.


Part adrenaline junkie, part monkey

On Saturday, I ran six miles with a high school teammate, went to brunch with some friends from high school, took a bath and finally used my jacuzzi jets after a year and a half, and then we had a dinner party with my stepsister and her family.  I made vegan chocolate chip cookies to accommodate all parties, and even the anti-vegan family members thought they were delicious!  (Pretty much just sub a flax egg for regular eggs and coconut oil for butter.)


Last Sunday, my team had our Team Thanksgiving.  We made food, dressed up, and played ridiculous games per usual…it was a blast 🙂  And the food was delicious!  I made cranberry sauce, chocolate mousse, and a crockpot dish with butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, pecans, and a spiced apple cider glaze.


I think that about sums up Thanksgiving break!  Honestly, I did not want to come back yesterday, and I felt pretty depressed about the prospect of being back for a few weeks.  I’m not sure why this is happening my junior year (rather than freshman year), but my roommate mentioned that she felt the same way, which was somewhat reassuring.  Even though we’re still homesick and disenchanted (and in my case, 110% broke), we are excited to get back into training, crush finals, and get ready for Christmas!

On another note, I want to briefly recap my break week and plans for transitioning back into training, as well as some goals for the upcoming track season.

Cross country 2017 recap:

  • Ran approximately 1,300 miles (from May 22 to November 10). So I beat last year’s season total by 9 miles!
  • 5 races
  • After a great summer of training (and not doing much else honestly), I arrived on campus feeling fit and ready to go.  I started working out with the top group, and my team felt cohesive and excited for a strong season.  Unfortunately, team-wise, we never got it together and were plagued with injuries, illness, weird circumstances, etc.  It was very demoralizing.
  • Individually, I felt like I really hit my stride in mid-October, right as my team was starting to fall apart.  My race at Penn State pumped me up for CAAs, and I wanted to try to contend for the win!  However, my body started rebelling, and I had a terrible race at CAAs, finishing 19th.  This persisted through regionals (fatigue, nausea, headaches, every run was bad), and by the end of the season, nothing was going well.
  • Interestingly, weight room did not go well this year.  I adore the weight room; lifting has always been fun for me, and I love to push myself (like chin-ups with chains!) and notice my form stay intact when I get tired during a race.  But this season, it just didn’t click.  I felt weak, tired, and did not progress in the weight room.

SO.  Not the way we wanted to end things, and I’m hungry for so much more.  In retrospect, there were some systematic issues that didn’t work for anyone on the team, and we have had discussions and brainstormed on how to be smarter going forward.

Looking forward to the 2018 track seasons:

After taking ten days off from running, I ran 19 miles and cross trained for 30 minutes last week.  I also completed some new strength circuits that will be incorporated into our training going forward.  20ish minutes of burpees, push-ups, jump squats, etc. left me hobbling around!

I’ve gotten bloodwork done and gone to the doctor to figure out what is wrong with my body.  In addition to the fatigue, my hair has become brittle and thin.  Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten any conclusive answers yet.  Tests for mono, thyroid issues, Lyme disease, anemia, etc. all came back negative.  So we shall see.

Going into track, I’m determined to be smart, listen to my body, and strive for the highest but quietly and humbly put in the work.  This will include:

  • More cross training!  As cross country progressed, I pretty much stopped cross training completely.  Last spring, I couldn’t put together consistent mileage, but cross training left me feeling strong as hell.  While I hope to maintain consistent mileage this season, I want to swim and/or bike at least twice a week.  My mileage might be a little lower, but it’s all about quality and sustainability.
  • Build more explosive power!  I naturally have pretty good speed for a distance runner.  However, my speed has not really developed since coming to college!  I want to incorporate more dynamic explosive exercises into my track training so that the last 400 meters of the 5k are actually impressive. Jumping squats and lunges, burpees, box jumps, and speedwork.  Embrace the pain!
  • Mentality: focus when you need to, relax when you need to, remember that you adore running, and don’t take life too seriously 🙂
  • Yoga!! I did a good job incorporating yoga into my training throughout the summer but definitely slacked in season.  Last spring, some of us would meet for relaxing yoga sessions every Wednesday and Saturday, and I want to restart this!

Already this week, I’m feeling much better than I had been at the end of cross country.  My body seems to have somewhat recovered, and I’ve been running happy.  I have no desire to do anything except easy, maintenance mileage for now, and I’m trying to appreciate every run.  But I still skipped out on doing yoga yesterday.  One step at a time…



NCAA Regional 6k (22:50)

Happy Friday, friends!  I’m nearing the end of my break week from running.  The past few days have been kind of weird because I haven’t really had class since my finance midterm on Wednesday afternoon.  Coupled with no practice, my schedule seems empty!  I’ve been reading, playing piano, and just generally wasting time.  I thought I’d use this time to (finally) update you on regionals and the end of the cross country season.


I’m embarrassed/sorry/frustrated to be writing another Debbie-Downer post, but such is life.  In short, regionals didn’t go well, and I’m relieved to finally be on a running break.

TL;DR: NCAA Southeast Regional 6k, 22:50, 127th place (YIKES)


In the week leading up to regionals, I tried as hard as I could to help my body recover from whatever the heck is wrong with it.  I chose all the shortest mileage options, cross trained on Wednesday, and slept as much as I could.  Total mileage for the week was roughly 29. (M6, T8, W3+30minXT, Th4, F8)

Did it work?

I thought it did.

Apparently not.

Honestly, I was really excited going into regionals!  As a team, we worked on having a positive mentality throughout the week, and it seemed like things were coming together a bit.  Tuesday was the last workout before the race, and 3×500, 10 min brisk, 5×300 didn’t kill me off.  I didn’t feel great, but compared to the previous weeks, I was satisfied.

I aqua jogged on Wednesday morning and ran 3 miles in the afternoon.  We left on Thursday morning and took the vans up to Charlottesville.  I’ve been experiencing a lot of motion sickness recently, so van rides haven’t been super fun.  I mostly slept on the way up so as to not die.  Once we arrived, we did our pre-meet at the course (4 miles, drills, strides, rope stretch).   It was rainy and cold, but we were optimistic and excited! IMG_9466.jpg

After the pre-meet, we went to Bodo’s Bagels for lunch and then chilled in the hotel until dinner.  We went to Whole Foods, had our team meeting, used the NormaTec boots, and I read a book before going to bed at 10 pm.  I felt a bit sick that night, but nothing like conferences.

Based on how I had run at Penn State earlier in the season, my “reach” goal was All-Region (top 25), and I knew I could at least place in the top 50.  However, based on how I felt throughout the past month, I kept this goal as a possibility but decided to be flexible if I didn’t feel well and just try to have fun.

We woke up at 6:30 on Friday morning, ran a 10-minute shakeout, rope stretched, and ate breakfast.


We put on the flash tats, got ready to go, and arrived at the course around 9 am.  It was 40 degrees and windy but sunny!  After checking in, we warmed up for a little over two miles, did drills, screwed longer spikes into our spikes, and headed to the line.  Our team box was right next to my friend from high school’s team box, and it was amazing to see her!  She and her team have been killing it this year.

The gun went off at 10:30, and hundreds of women stampeded down the straightaway.  We hit the hills, which were muddy and treacherous, and tackled some rolling hills leading into 2k.  This was my fourth time running this course, and I’ve actually grown to enjoy it.


Hundreds of spectators lined the course at 2k (and again at 3k because it comes through the same spot), and we got a boost from their energy and enthusiasm.  Our team had driven up that morning to come watch the race since regionals is only two hours from campus.  It was amazing to see them!

I felt marginally okay through 2k (although it felt like I was going a lot faster than I actually was).  My freshman teammate and I worked together through 3k, but the now-familiar feeling of “what the hell is wrong with my body/why won’t it respond” kicked in at 2 miles.  Coincidentally in time for the massive rolling hills to start 😉

I immediately started losing places.  The awful part was, I was really positive at the base of each hill!  I approached each one thinking, “Ok, this is going to hurt, time to rally, you’ve got this“, but my body just didn’t match my mind.  At least I didn’t walk.


After losing probably about 30 places in the span of 2 minutes, I hit the 5k mark at like 19 minutes.  Not ideal.  Rallied over the last downhill and the beginning of the steepest uphill, but that lactic, tunnel-y feeling took over halfway up the steep hill.  Finally got to the finishing straightaway, and by that point, my body was just done.  I think approximately 20 more women passed me in the last quarter mile.  My eyes wouldn’t stay open and I started weaving and I hate that I was that melodramatic/stupid-looking/slow-moving stereotypical female runner, but it wasn’t mental.

But yay! I finished! Finally crossed that dang line in 22:50 in 127th place (I would find out later).  Struggled through a 12-minute cool down to finish out the cross country season.  Exactly zero people on my team had a good race, and we finished 17th, which we are all embarrassed of and confused about because the team literally won the region three years ago, but it’s time to move forward 🙂

Even though I’m embarrassed and frustrated about how the second half of the season went, there were many opportunities for growth and positivity that came out of Friday.

For example, my high school teammate had an awesome race and almost got All-Region!!  And her team ran strong.


I’m almost a week into my break week and don’t miss training yet.  The only activity I’ve done this week has been two yoga classes and one strength routine, but who’s counting 😉 Funnily enough, my finance professor was the yoga instructor on Tuesday!  I’m enjoying eating all the foods and doing little movement, but I don’t completely feel like myself.  Got tested for mono- don’t have it- and a plethora of other things, so we shall see.  I’m looking forward to a slow comeback.

The next post will be more reflections, goals for track, fun life updates, etc. that I’m too lazy to write about right now 🙂




CAA 6k (22:23) and some blithering

Settle in, folks…it’s gonna be a long one!

Happy Thursday!  My 12:30 Thursday class is over for the rest of the year, so I don’t have class until 2 today 🙂  My favorite local coffee shop is playing “Take the A Train”, and I’m drinking tea, both of which are making me happy.  I’ve been fairly proactive with work and don’t have anything pressing to work on, so I thought I’d spend the extra time finally finishing this blog post.

Welp, every season has to have at least one bad race…and unfortunately, mine happened at conferences.  It keeps ya grounded 😉


This past weekend was our conference championship meet.  Last week’s training didn’t go smoothly; I felt sick and emotional and mental all week.  It just kind of snowballed.  Immediately after finishing Tuesday’s track workout (3×800, 2x[4×400]), I started crying to my coach for no particular reason.  It was weird.  Wednesday’s run felt like crap, but I felt like I gained a bit of mojo back on Thursday (maintenance run + 8×200).  Throughout the past two weeks, I used visualization techniques and let myself dream of being conference champion.  Something I never thought I would even be able to think until my fifth year, maybe!

It was also simulation week for the business school, so my schedule was different and kind of nice.  On Thursday, we gave our formal business presentation and crushed it.


We departed for the conference meet on Friday, and I felt pretty carsick by the time we got there at 4 pm.  During the pre-meet, (4 miles on the course, drills, strides, and stretches), none of us felt that great.  The collective mood felt off– kind of like we were preparing for a funeral.  ARGH.  During dinner at a local pizza and pasta restaurant, I ordered the tomato-basil salmon in a pesto cream sauce and ate all of it really fast, as well as hummus, pita, and bruschetta.  Not the smartest decision.


Super-duper photogenic lunch during the van ride

We didn’t get back to the hotel until 8:45 pm, at which point I felt really ill.  During our team meeting, I couldn’t keep my eyes open and just tried to reassure myself that I’d feel better after a good night’s sleep.  I promptly fell into bed and was asleep at 9:30, even while my teammate was using the NormaTec boots two feet away.

We did a 10-minute shakeout run at 6 am, rope stretched, and ate breakfast.  I was still not feeling good, so my mental game was all off.  I tried to shake it off and use visualization to positively refocus, but it didn’t work that well.  My lips were dry, my throat hurt, my body ached with fatigue, and I had a splitting headache and some nausea :/

We arrived at the course at 8:30.  Going into this race, we were the 6-time defending conference champions, but as I’ve mentioned before, this has probably been the team’s worst season in decades.  We’ve been hit hard with adversity- illness, injury, freak occurrences, etc.- and pretty much nothing has gone our way.  However, individually, I’ve had a strong season!  I had been hoping to fight for the individual conference title.  But with the way my body was feeling, I had to reevaluate.

After our warm-up, I burst into tears to my coach before the race (which has never happened before).  “You don’t have to be our number one today,” she told me.  “Just hang on the pack- if you’re our number four, that’s completely okay.  Just do what you can do.”


The gun went off, and I tried to forget about everything that had been going on leading up to the race and just race.  Which worked for about 2k!  The course was grassy and a little uneven, with lots of small loops.  After 2k, we hit a hill, and the bottom fell out of my race.  My body wouldn’t respond to what I wanted it to do, and the next 4k were progressively more of a death march.  I watched the lead pack get further away, more girls passed me, and everything felt heavy.  I thought I was just being mental, and to an extent I was, but every time I tried to reset, it only worked for about 5 seconds before I was back into a pit of despair (not dramatic at all 😉 ).


I finally made it to the finish (19th place, 22:23, not even close to what I wanted) and fell down immediately after crossing the line.  I’m kind of embarrassed of what happened in the hour after that- lots of tears, snot, a non-functional body, no cool down, BUT a sweet athletic trainer that tried his very best to help me.  No one on my team ran particularly well, and we got second place in the conference.  However, the men’s team ran extremely well as a pack, went 1-2-3, and won their 18th conference title in a row with a solid 23 points!


Overall, the race was demoralizing and somewhat embarrassing.  However, reflecting on the race has allowed me to identify some positive takeaways:

  1. I/my team can do really hard things.  Every step of the last 4k hurt, but I finished the dang race.
  2. I was the fourth scorer for our team.  If I hadn’t toughed it out, we might not have even gotten second place.
  3. There’s literally zero pressure for regionals, so we can go out there and have fun 🙂
  4. I’ve been lucky enough to not have had a “bad” race in over a year.  Not that I’ve raced a ton, but this was the first bad day since last year at UVA.
  5. I’ve also been lucky enough to have really consistent training, especially considering last spring!  Last week was my first week under 50 miles (I ran 45) since June.  While I was a little salty that I didn’t hit 50, it’s taper time anyway 😉

Unfortunately, the “I got hit by a train” feelings have persisted throughout this week.  I felt okay on Monday and Tuesday, but yesterday’s short run/bike was pretty awful, and today’s maintenance run and light lift were also not that great.  Talking to one of my teammates helped a lot, and I’ve been trying to distract myself, but my body seems like it’s ready to be done.

But at least I’ve had time for some really good dinners 🙂

I feel like I’ve lost my running mojo a bit in the last two weeks.  I don’t like to admit this, but I’ve found myself counting down the days  towards the end of the season and towards Thanksgiving break.  Which is not ideal- the season isn’t over yet!  I am excited for regionals, but I would be more excited if my body felt normal.  Also, homesickness and other factors have made for a not-cheerful Kathryn…I realized I’ve never gone this long without going home!  Yes, I am almost 21 years old, but sometimes you just need your dog and your mom and your annoying younger brothers…ya feel?


Sums it up

Anyway.  I’m sure no one wanted to read 1,200 words of blithering, and I sure wasn’t planning on writing this much, but c’est la vie!  Over the next week, I’m going to drink all the tea, look up some positive affirmations, rest even though my brain doesn’t like that, appreciate my wonderful teammates, spend time on other hobbies like Spoon University and piano, and try my best to get ahead on schoolwork.  And continue binge-watching Chicago Fire, of course.  We’ve got one more week left of the season, and who knows what will happen- but this has been a great individual season overall, and I’m extremely fortunate.  College is hard.  Running is hard.  Being away from home is hard (says the junior in college…)