A Day in the Life: Study Abroad

Hi friends!  I’m currently sitting at a coffee shop working on my research investigation.  I just finished an ethnographic observation of the Mercado Central in Cádiz and submitted my midterm report, so I thought I’d take a little break and talk about some recent happenings because there might be one or two people out there that care about my non-training-summary musings 😉  Speaking of which, I’m going to finish this café americano in a few minutes and head over to the gym for my weekly long cross train session because the smell of fish from the Mercado Central is getting to me, but first…A Day in the Life: Cádiz Edition!

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Yesterday (Friday) was a surprisingly fun day.  We don’t have classes on Fridays (theoretically we’re supposed to use the day to work on our research investigations, which I actually kind of did, but usually we just jet off to random parts of Spain or go to wine tastings in ancient castles.  You know how it is.)  I woke up at 7:30 and didn’t feel like running right then because the Valley of Fatigue is real and my body is/was #destroyed.  So I stayed in bed until 9, ate the classic breakfast of pan tostada with my roommate, and then sat on the terrace upstairs in the sunshine working on my paper.

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After finishing my paper in a pleasingly short amount of time, I walked over to the university (a 4 minute walk, #blessup) to meet with my professor about my investigation.  The meeting went well, but what stands out in my mind is that it was one of those moments where speaking Spanish was just as easy and natural and grammatically correct as English!  Even though I’ve been studying Spanish for 15 years now and can write just as well in either language, speaking has always been a bit trickier.  I feel like that’s the case in any second/third/not-first language.  Anyway, I left the meeting feeling pleased and bilingual and worldly and eloquent.  It was nice 🙂

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PS, look how pretty the University of Cádiz is 🙂

I ran into my friend on the way out, and we ended up walking to a plaza about fifteen minutes away to get coffee and just talk for awhile before my run.  It was refreshing not to be rushing around from the gym to school or wherever (why do I tend to do this even in a foreign country??).  We ended up in an intellectually stimulating discussion about the importance of breaking the dominant historical narrative of colonizer/colonized.  You know.  Casual.

After awhile, I felt like I should do my run, so I met up with my teammate and completed the longest walk-to-run thus far! 6 x 5 minute run, 1 minute walk.  ‘Twas lovely.  My foot hurts a little now, but I’m not running again until Monday.  Also, running in a sports bra is kind of weird in Spain, but it was 80 degrees and we were dying, okay…

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We ran by the beach and had a nice deep talk and it was great.  Unprecedented deep talks seem to be the theme of the day…

I went home, ate lunch, took a siesta, and then headed to the beach to hang out for awhile and eventually aqua jog in the water.  We were baking in the sun for two and a half hours before aqua jogging, which I realized later in the evening was not the smartest plan.  But the aqua jog session was super fun and flew by because we talked nonstop!

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I arrived home dehydrated and sun-poisoned just in time for dinner of chicken nuggets, veggies, and a salty noodle soup.  A freezing cold shower made my sun-poisoned body feel even worse, and I had to cancel my night plans and lie in bed watching Portugal versus España (damn it, Cristiano Ronaldo) before falling asleep before I planned/waking up hella disoriented/and having a restless night feeling crappy.

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Even with that end to the day, I still felt like it had been a great day overall.  Today, I feel like crap, so I’m looking forward to a full-on rest day tomorrow.  It’s finally getting hot in Cádiz, which is pleasant but can also get to be overwhelming!

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Summer Training Week 1: Study abroad version

Happy Sunday, friends!  I know in years past I’ve started the weekly summer training recaps a little earlier in the summer, but our new coach and my injury comeback have resulted in this past week marking “Week 1” of summer 2018 cross country training 🙂  My recaps will obviously look a little different than the past 3 years because I am not just building mileage and starting workouts; I’m starting to just be able to run again!  Also, I’m limited in the quantity of what I can do on the weekends by our travel plans and the fact that the gym is closed on Sundays (“Long run” day).

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Our hike in Málaga

Week 1 (6/4-6/10)

  • Monday: AM: Walk-to-run (5 min walk, 6 x [2 min walk, 2:30 run], 5 min walk) + 30 min stationary bike.  PM: Circuits + 30 min bike.
  • Tuesday: 55 min bike with pick-ups.
  • Wednesday: AM: Walk-to-run (5 min walk, 6 x [2 min walk, 3 min run], 5 min walk) + 30 min bike.  PM: 30 min XT (20 bike, 10 erg) + full body lift.
  • Thursday: AM: 60 min bike.  PM: lots of walking in Málaga.
  • Friday: AM: Walk-to-run (5 min walk, 7 x [3 min run, 2 min walk], 5 min walk).  Later: 8 miles of hiking/walking in Málaga.
  • Saturday: off but walked almost 6 miles around Málaga
  • Sunday: 70 minute aqua jog in the ocean

Total: 7 running miles + 305 min XT + 8 walk/hike miles I’m counting

I’m not really sure how much to count the “walking miles” (like the “walk” portion of walk-to-run, and the hike) so I’ll just count a portion of them, haha 🙂

This was the second week of my walk-to-run program.  My athletic trainer sent me a plan at the beginning of the semester that I have been adjusting a little bit because it was made for people that have been out for 8+ weeks.  I don’t want to be too aggressive, but I think I can build up to “real” runs a little quicker than the plan entails.

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The beach in Málaga at “golden hour”

I was planning on doing a full-on bike workout on Tuesday, but my body felt pretty terrible, so I struggled through a regular bike session with some pick-ups.  I felt a lot better on Wednesday, and I even tried out the erg machine for the first time!

On Thursday, I used the elliptical for the first time in forever (during my injury, my doctor told me I was not allowed to use the elliptical), and it was noticeably harder on my foot than the bike but I enjoyed standing nonetheless.  After a viciously difficult exam on Thursday, three of my friends and I jetted off to Málaga for the weekend.

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Friday brought another walk-to-run and then a long day of hiking and exploring.  I crashed in the afternoon but revived for a trip to the beach and a late dinner.  It was nice to cook in our Airbnb!  We made a classic appetizer of toast with tomato and olive oil, followed by the main dish of pesto pasta with sautéed zucchini, carrots, spinach, and tofu.

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I took Saturday off from training, but we still walked almost 6 miles.  The day’s adventures included a sunset catamaran cruise, dolphin sightings, The Parent Trap, and midnight ice cream and birthday cake.

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Unfortunately, due to a sleep-mate issue, I hardly slept this weekend.  Also, we had a little bit of a fiasco this morning before we left to catch our train.  We got back around 1 pm, I hightailed it to the ocean and aqua jogged for 70 minutes, and as a result of all of the above, I feel sick and have completely slacked on the stretching.

Overall, this was a decent “first week” of training!  While I lacked workout efforts, I had a good lift and increased my running and made it through a long-ish aqua jog alone today 🙂

However, I reaffirmed for myself that I strongly prefer sleep and stretching over late nights and too much alcohol.  Málaga was super fun and I have no regrets, but I’m excited to rest and fuel my body well!

Things I did well:

  • Sticking to my walk-to-run schedule
  • Self-motivation during the week
  • Listening to my body and resting when it didn’t want to double or lift

Things I would like to do this coming week:

  • Be kinder to myself about my body
  • Don’t overindulge based on peer pressure
  • Spend less time perusing Instagram.  Do yoga/meditation instead 🙂
  • Sleep, stretch, and roll more!
  • Increase running but stay patient.  And actually do your rehab exercises.

Until next week, folks!

Summer Training 2018

(I wrote this post a week ago but had to publish it before I could start posting recaps!  Sorry for the lack of pictures)

Things that are terrifying when you combine them together: year after year of consistent summer training; a taste of success last year; five months of injury with very little running; and kicking off 2018 summer training by starting a walk-to-run program.

Greetings!  It’s hard to believe that it’s already June.  This is the month where summer training for cross country kicks off in full swing.  For the past several years, my daily summer routine has revolved around the day’s training and work.  However, as you know, I’ve been injured since January, the latest being a stress reaction in my second metatarsal that put me out for five weeks.  I’m essentially starting summer training with a base of zero.

This is honestly terrifying.  I’ve never been in this position before.  I was never really injured in high school, my mileage was low enough going into my freshman year of college that injury was essentially impossible, and I had great build-ups going into sophomore and junior year that helped me to some massive PRs.  I thought I knew the frustration that came with injury due to my bunion struggles in the spring of 2017, but I had no idea.  I was still able to train well, and I PRed in the 3k on the track and the 5k on the roads.  Looking back, I was freakin’ blessed!

Anyway.  Over the past five months, my body has changed, my mentality has changed, and my running goals for this year have changed.  After running 21:20 in the 6k last fall, my goals before the semester of injury were to break 17 minutes in the 5k on the track this past spring and be both the individual and team conference champion during cross country this coming fall.  These goals have not changed in and of themselves, but I am not going to put pressure on myself to achieve them this year.  I know my body will break again if I push it too hard too soon.

SO instead of the normal mileage build-up where I would start at like 30 miles and work up to 60+ and maintain around 55 and hardly do any cross training, I am going to spend the majority of the summer transitioning through a walk-to-run program and doing cross-training workouts.  My mileage is going to remain incredibly low for a frustratingly long period of time, and my cross country season may or may not be as successful as (the first half of) last year’s.  I might not run as fast.  I might feel a lot worse.  But I am going to cherish every second that I get to run because I now know what it’s like to not be able to run at all.  And then to ruin the little bit I did get to run this spring by ignoring the pain, racing a 5k on a stress reaction, and putting myself out of conference championship competition and endangering my cross country season.  Nice!

Tentative summer plan/goals for now:

  • Walk-to-run program until July
  • Build up mileage consistently and sustainably- if that means I’m only at 30 miles by the end of the summer, well, it’s better than zero.
  • Work hard on the bike and in the pool
  • Complete 2-3 long yoga sessions per week
  • Functional core and lifts
  • Foot rehab exercises
  • Sleep a lot!
  • Be inspired, not jealous, by teammates’ training

I’ll update you as I progress through the walk-jog and transition back to “real” running (I’m trying not to use that phrase, but you know what I mean!).  I’m in Spain for another 3 weeks, and I’m 2 parts loving it, 1 part homesick/ready for routine.

Sevilla y Granada

Time to catch you all up on some of our Spanish adventures!  No worries, my next post will be about summer cross country training. 🙂

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La Alhambra en Granada

Sevilla (5/26-5/27)

Last weekend, we went to Sevilla for two days!  It was only an hour and half ride from Cádiz, so we left on Saturday morning and returned on Sunday evening.

IMG_3495.jpgWe arrived at our hotel and almost immediately left for a two-hour walking tour of the city that ended at the Plaza de España.  The Plaza de España was beautiful, built in the shape of a “u” with a canal/moat, elegant bridges, and a fountain in the center of the square.

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After the walking tour, we had a bit of free time, so we ate lunch in the park next to the Plaza.  It was peaceful and beautiful, with gardens and fish and intermittent bouts of sunlight.

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We then walked some more and went on a tour of la Catedral de Sevilla, where we observed the incredible interior and climbed la Giralda, which was 33 flights of ramps.

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After the Catedral, we got to see a flamenco show!  (Photography prohibited).  Then we went to dinner, where we enjoyed several courses of tapas, fish, tinto, and a three-layer chocolate mousse cake that I would like to eat for the rest of my life.  That night, we went out for awhile, and I ended up walking 13 miles total that day.  RIP to the foot.

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On our second day in Sevilla, we toured the Real Alcázar de Sevilla.  I loved it.  It was so peaceful and full of greenery and history.  I could have stayed there forever.  IMG_3632.jpg

We also toured the barrio de los judíos and some other places before climbing the Metropol Parasól, a weird wooden structure with great views of the city.

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After that, we ate lunch and wandered around before driving back to Cádiz.  Sevilla was super fun, but group sleep deprivation and a stolen phone made for a really rough second day for some people.  Yikes!

Granada (6/2-6/3)

This past weekend, we went to Granada.  The drive was a little longer than the one to Sevilla; it took about four hours, and I stubbornly tried to read a book on my Kindle the entire time even though I am prone to motion-sickness.  That went well 😉  After a minor bus breakdown, we arrived in Granada early in the afternoon and spent the evening looking at the shops, the Capilla Real, the Catedral, and of course Los italianos (ice cream).

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17th-century graffiti!  It says “victoria”, presumably after someone finished their exams

I loved the ceiling in the Capilla Real, and it blew my mind how long it must have taken to construct the Catedral, starting in the 16th century!

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I was feeling pretty sick that night, so I stayed in but didn’t sleep very much regardless.  Dang.  On the second day, we spent four hours exploring La Alhambra- the Islamic palace/fortress renovated in the 13th century.  My favorite part was the Generalife, which is the section of the palace where the kings would go on vacation.  It was tranquil and perfect, filled with lush plants, beautiful flowers, and trickling fountains.

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We then toured the actual castle portion, which was huge and luxurious and unbelievable.

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We climbed some towers, and the views were unbelievable.

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No one I’d rather cram 5 people into a 3-person hotel room with

After many hours spent wandering the Alhambra, we crammed 27 people into a 15-person bus again and I spent the 10-minute ride down the mountain trying not to puke.  We ate lunch at a random restaurant, and I enjoyed another tinto de verano con limón, which has easily become my favorite alcoholic drink 🙂

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We rode the bus four hours back to Cádiz and arrived around dinner time.  I felt sick again, and my roommate has been sick all week, so we met our new housemates and I turned in early for the night.  I loved Granada, but I think it would be better to spend more time there, given the extent of the travel!

Málaga (6/7-6/10)

Next weekend, a few friends and I are going to go to Málaga to celebrate my friend’s 21st birthday.  We’re taking the train there and will spend the days hiking, sleeping, eating, and sunbathing (and probably running/biking if you’re me).  I’m super excited!

First Days in Spain

Good morning!  I’m currently  in Cádiz, Spain, where it’s 10:30 am (six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time).  This is our first morning in Cádiz- we arrived yesterday around 6 pm, met our host mom, explored the beach and saw an awesome sunset, and then kind of got trapped in the house.

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Not wearing the boot #badidea

The past few days have been full of travel and new experiences and lots of Spanish!  We left the US around 6 pm on Thursday 5/17 and arrived in Madrid Friday morning, so we essentially lost an entire night’s sleep.  I dozed on the airport floor and during the bus ride to the hotel, and then we all crashed for several hours throughout the afternoon in the hotel.  My friend and I walked around Madrid for awhile after that.  We then went to el Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, where I got lost from the group and couldn’t contact them #nice, and then our guide took us on a long walk where we got to be stampeded by the soccer fans celebrating the Club Atlético de Madrid.  After walking like 5 miles, it was finally time for dinner!  We had paella and croquetas and sangria at 10 pm.

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I ended up walking 7 miles in the boot on Friday.  My foot was throbbing by the end.  Ouch!

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On Saturday, we left Madrid in the morning and took the bus to Cádiz all day.  After getting settled in our host family’s house and eating a surprisingly early dinner (7:30), my roommate and I went for a walk, saw an incredible sunset on the beach (which is a 3 minute walk from the house!), and met up with some of our other study abroad people.

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This morning, I woke up around 8:20 and did some core.  While I’m having a good time, I’m torn between feeling like a slacker for not doing any training in like 3 days and feeling depressed because my foot is killing me and I was going to start the walk-to-run program this week.  ARGH!  But my host mom is taking me to join a gym tomorrow after our orientation at the university, so that will be good 🙂

After doing core, we ate our first breakfast prepared by our host mother.  Talk about culture shock!  As you know, my usual breakfast at home involves some combination of oatmeal, fruit, nut butter, eggs, protein powder, cinnamon, etc.  Breakfast is like my favorite meal of the day!

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Case in point: my last breakfast at home

In Andalucía, the typical breakfast involves bread and sugar.  This morning, our host mom gave us chocolate-filled pastries, sweet milk that tasted like drinking butter (I couldn’t do it haha), orange juice, hot cocoa, and toast with our choice of butter or jam.  I ate the pastry and toast with strawberry preserves and for the most part passed on the drinks because I rarely drink anything except water and coffee.  I’m happy to try anything and am willing to fully immerse myself in Andalusian culture, but we’ve had some funny culture-clash moments so far.  When she asked what I like to eat for breakfast and I responded “oatmeal and eggs”, she looked at me like I had seven heads and said, “We don’t do that here.  Eggs are not for breakfast.  They sometimes do that in Barcelona, but not here.”

Welp…so much for that!

The next 5 weeks are definitely going to be a learning experience!  I’m really excited to start classes, continue to explore Cádiz, take day trips to other southern Spanish cities, and immerse myself in Andalusian culture.  I’m apprehensive about training (or lack thereof) and sad that my foot pain hasn’t gone away yet (seriously- I’ve run like 100 miles in the past 4 months…)

But this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I’m so grateful I get to do it!  Cádiz is beautiful, and the weather is unparalleled.  And we have a cute roof/garden right outside our bedroom!

Spring 2018: The semester of injury

Long time no blog!  This morning, both my mom and one of my friends asked, “Do you still blog?”  My gut answer was, “Of course!” before I remembered that I actually haven’t blogged in four months…Sorry about that!

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I just wrapped up what was definitely the most challenging semester of my life, both academically and athletically.  I drove home from school this past Monday, and I have about a week and half to chill out (and work) before I leave to study abroad in Spain until the end of June!  Luckily, I didn’t have any final exams, but I wrote 59 pages of final papers and had several group projects.  Phew!  Time for a life update (as a means of procrastinating on the final paper due for the semester).  Settle in; this is going to be a long one.

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From my 21st bday party- had to wear sneakers due to injury haha

To start things off on a rather sour note, I have essentially been injured this entire semester.  Writing it out seems unbelievable.  As you know, I was fighting some mild injuries throughout December and January but had worked back up to normal-ish mileage (albeit on the treadmill) by the time I headed back to school for the spring semester.

Once I got back to school, I immediately started going to the training room every day because the foot and ankle pain was persisting.  I got an x-ray in mid-January, which didn’t show anything, so then I got an MRI, which showed posterior tibial tendonitis.  I cross trained hard until February 14th (my 21st birthday!), at which point I convinced the trainers and my coach to let me start running on the Alter-G, even though I was still having foot pain.IMG_1487.jpg

My 21st birthday was super fun even though I had to write a paper.  Since so many of my friends had birthdays in February, we had a 5-way birthday party!

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I started bringing the stationary bike outside because after a month of being shut up in the Alter-G room, I was in desperate need of some vitamin D (and social interaction, haha).  Most days, I would bike and/or swim 60-90 minutes, with two or three days being workout efforts with intervals, and the rest being steady maintenance cross trains.  I was getting stronger in the pool, on the bike, and in the weight room!  I started consistently doing chin-ups with chains and squatting heavier weights.

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I slowly transitioned back to running, running on land for the first time on February 22.  My mileage progression went something like this:

  • Week of 2/19-2/25: 4 miles + 10 Alter-G miles
  • Week of 2/26-3/4: 15 land miles + 3 Alter-G miles
  • Week of spring break: no idea
  • Week of 3/12-3/18: 22 miles
  • Week of 3/19-3/25: 32 miles

While the post tib was getting better, the bunion issues and related foot pain from last year came back full force the second I started running again.  So this whole time, running was a question mark every single day.  Mentally, this is a terrible way to train.  Each morning, I woke up with no idea how my foot would feel, how much I would be able to run, etc.  It was extremely frustrating and demoralizing, but it made the good days that much more gratifying.

At the end of February, my mom came down to run the hilly, hard half marathon hosted by my team, and she placed in her age group!

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Just after starting to run on land again, I drove down to Tybee Island, Georgia, with a random group of teammates for spring break.  That week was very freeing- I didn’t worry about training or mileage, did what I could, sunbathed on the beach in 58 degree weather (#nice) during the day, explored Savannah, and enjoyed being 21 at night 😉

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Finally, towards the end of March, I managed to put together “real” mileage of 32.  Too bad I got overzealous and did 4 comparatively hard efforts in that one week.  On March 25, I ran 9 miles cutting down to 6:30 pace, and subsequently strained my right hamstring.  The trainers aggravated it by scraping, which put me out of commission for another two weeks and ruined my plan to return to racing at the Colonial Relays (beginning of April).

  • Week of 3/26-4/1: 13 miles
  • Week of 4/2-4/8: 25 miles

After my hamstring pain cleared up, I emailed my coach asking if I could run the 5000 on the track at the Duke Invitational (4/21).  I hadn’t done any workouts, but I didn’t care.  I just wanted to race!  Shockingly, he responded that I could run the 5k at George Mason a week earlier (4/14).  Off of zero workouts and barely 20 miles per week.  I was 10% apprehensive and 90% jumping for joy!

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Beach with teammates the night before the race

Unfortunately, my body couldn’t hold it together.  The post tib pain came back literally the day before the race, and I also had pain on top of my foot that I just ignored because it had been 3 months of injury and I didn’t want another thing to be wrong (pro tip: don’t ignore pain).  I literally did my pre-meet on the bike, and my coach said I could travel and just take things one step at a time.  If I could do the shakeout with no pain, I could move on to the warm-up.  If I could do the warm-up with no pain, I could race.

I made it through the shakeout and warm-up and laced up in spikes for the first time since November.  I was not pain-free, but I pretended that I was.  The gun went off, and it was amazing to be back on the track again.  This was the first time I’d worn the uniform on the track since May 2016 (my freshman year).  Each lap, my teammates would scream-cheer, and I would burst into a smile.  Until about lap 8 and then I realized that it’s kind of difficult to run the 5k off of no workouts, haha.

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I ended up running an 18:38, not that it matters!  (For reference, I split a 17:35 5k during a cross country 6k in the fall, and my goal before I got injured was to run 16:XX on the track this season.)  It was incredibly fun, but I couldn’t walk the next day because I was so sore!

And then I seriously couldn’t walk by Monday.  By Tuesday (April 17), the nagging foot pain on top of my foot (metatarsal area) was sharp and throbbing.  I had clearance that day, so I saw our team orthopedist as well as the head athletic trainer, and both of them agreed that I should shut down my season right then and there because it wasn’t worth trying to get back into shape through another injury to maybe score points in the 5000 at the CAA championships on May 4-5.

So after over three months of trying to come back for CAAs, I did not run CAAs.  I got an MRI that showed I have a stress reaction in my second metatarsal on my left foot (aka the problem foot, apparently!). I took six days completely off, went home for the weekend to have a mental break before the end of the semester, started lightly cross training two weeks ago, and have essentially been doing whatever training I’ve felt like doing since then.  Some days, that’s a 40 minute swim.  Some days it’s a 70 minute bike workout.  Other days it’s yoga, or core, or nothing.  I’m going to be in the walking boot until I go to Spain and potentially longer, and I will start a return-to-running walk-jog program in a couple weeks, as long as there’s absolutely no pain for awhile before that.  As of now, I still have pain, and I really don’t want to come back to running before my foot is ready.  It’s going to be a longggg road back to fitness anyway.  So right now, I am doing what I can to maintain my aerobic fitness in the pool and on the bike, while not doing so much as to disrupt my love for training in general.

For someone who fully admits that the majority of her life revolves around running, this semester was incredibly confusing.  I had to rediscover who I was outside of running, which I honestly don’t think I succeeded at (yet).  I was a bitchy pill some days, but a great teammate/friend/sister/daughter other days.  The past four months have definitely been trying, but I have learned so much about myself, others, training, sanity, and balance!

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Featuring my snazzy Aircast

I don’t want to make it sound like my whole semester was miserable, because it truly wasn’t.  It sucked to be injured (and still sucks! I’m still injured!) but I had so many great life experiences outside of running.  I strengthened some friendships, took classes that were extremely difficult but helped me realize how much I actually do like my Hispanic Studies major, applied (and was accepted) to study abroad!, had fun, and made both irresponsible and responsible decisions.

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Irresponsibly wearing heels instead of the Boot 😉 

I expanded my food Instagram, made crazy memories, and feel more adult than I ever have.  I did gain weight (funny how that happens when you stop running 50-60 miles per week) and am trying to remember that my body is smarter than my brain and will eventually settle into the best possible state for itself.  I am really excited to study abroad in Spain this summer, as I think it’s going to be one of the best (and hardest) experiences of my life!

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More later– my post-swim brain is dead 🙂

Training 1/8-1/14 and beginning of semester!

Happy first day of school!  The second semester of junior year started bright and early this morning with an hour-long pool workout, training room visit, and 9:30 am marketing research class.  And it’s snowing!  I have an hour and a half break between classes, so I’m going to drink coffee too quickly and catch you all up on what’s been going on in my life 🙂

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First of all, I spontaneously got a haircut!  Chopped off about six inches of gross, dead hair left over from when my body was falling apart at the end of the cross country season.  #newyearnewme?  But that has next to nothing to do with training, sooo moving on.

So unfortunately, right as I was beginning to feel in shape and enjoy training again, I injured myself.  Last Tuesday, I did a tempo run on the icy bike path and completely fucked up my left foot and ankle.  Since then, I’ve been experiencing pain in my arch, plantar, and ankle bone, and it isn’t getting any better.

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Post-pool-workout overnight oats and warm whirlpool

Ironically, I’m in the same position I was in at the start of last semester: cross training, foot/ankle pain, daily training room visits…hoo boy.  I’m trying to take it in stride, though- be patient, smart, don’t rush things.  Unlike past injuries, I want this to completely heal up before I try to train on it.  And I’ve been killing it on the bike, in the pool, and in the weight room, so those are all positives!  Might get an x-ray if the pain doesn’t improve soon.

Week of 1/8-1/14:

  • Monday: AM: 7 easy miles + circuits. PM: active warm-up, 3 miles, strides, GS1, foam roll.
  • Tuesday: 20 min warm-up, drills, 4 mile tempo on bike path (SUPER icy).  Splits: 6:18, 6:26, 6:07, 6:03.  20 min cool down.  Lower body lift at home, and did 24 chin-ups!  Foot/ankle started hurting a lot later in the day.  Iced it.
  • Wednesday:  AM: tried to run- too much pain.  30 min elliptical with ankle brace.  PM: 30 min bike + core.  Foam roll.
  • Thursday: AM: 8 miles + strides + upper body lift.  PM: 2 miles.  Foot/ankle feel better than Tuesday and Wednesday, but not pain-free…in retrospect, I’m just a stubborn idiot 😉
  • Friday: active warm-up, 4 miles- planned to do workout but after I warmed up for 2 miles, it was too painful, so I ran 2 miles home and then did a 50 minute pool workout (10 lap warm-up, 5 x 4 laps hard, 1 lap easy, 5 x 1 lap hard, 1 length easy, 10 lap cool down).  Rolled, Epsom salt soak, electrical stim and ice, mobs, massage.
  • Saturday: 100 min XT (80 min bike + 20 elliptical). Rolled, Epsom salt soak, electrical stim and ice, mobs, massage.
  • Sunday: off. 40 min yoga/core.
Total: 33 miles + 210 min XT
I wrote a melodramatic post on Saturday that I might post later, but essentially I was really frustrated about having to cross train and dealt with some “If I can’t run, it’s a waste” thoughts.  Luckily, I’ve remembered that cross training is highly effective at keeping us in shape, so I’m going to take advantage of the bike and the pool to get some quality work in!  Also, so many women on my team are injured right now that cross training has been kind of a party…haha.
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This semester, I have no 8 am classes.  Thank goodness!  On Mondays and Wednesdays, I’ll be taking three marketing classes from 9:30 to 3:30, with morning and afternoon practice.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I will have morning practice from 7:30-10:30, followed by two Hispanic Studies classes from 11-2.  And for the third semester in a row…no Friday classes!  I’m well on my way to completing my two majors (BBA in Marketing and BA in Hispanic Studies), and it’s crazy to think that we’re already in the second half of junior year.
I spent the majority of yesterday meal prepping even though I didn’t really need to, mostly because I wanted an excuse to break in my new food processor!  It’s super fancy, with 4 different blades and about 10 different parts…quite a change from the old mini one that stopped working last semester 🙂  Also, I realized that all the food I prepped was some shade of brown.  Nice!
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Carrot muffins, curried lentils, black bean brownies, homemade larabars, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and beets

I hope everyone has a wonderful Wednesday, and I’ll update again soon about my injury, semester, and life in general!

Fire and Finals

Happy Saturday!  After a long, long week, I drove home yesterday evening.  One doughnut stop, gas stop, and two hours of awful traffic between Fredericksburg and Alexandria later, I reunited with my dog and then promptly stress-ate everything in sight 😉  I’m planning on being home for most of break, with a week-long trip to California for Christmas!

This post is not going to be super running-related, just because I have other things to recount…

Unlike past years, I was lucky enough to finish final exams really early this semester.  My school allocates two weeks for finals (M-F this week and M-W next week), so some people won’t be done until December 20th!  My poor roommate is one of them.  My last final was finance on Wednesday night, but that meant I had three exams within the first three days.  I studied proactively and was prepared for them, which meant when a catastrophe happened on Sunday night (soon after completing last week’s blog post), it wasn’t the end of the world…

SO.  Sunday night.  I was (not really) studying in my kitchen and decided to move to the desk in my bedroom.  Candles were lit, Jim Croce was playing on Spotify, and I was about to shut it down for the night in order to gear up for a solid week of training and final exams.  This was around 9 pm.

Moved my computer to my desk, paused for a moment, and then saw an orange glow reflecting in the hall closet door and my heart absolutely dropped out of my chest.   I raced back into the kitchen to see my backpack completely engulfed in flames.  It had fallen into one of the lit candles on the table and went up like a firebomb.  I screamed “Fire”, threw the burning backpack into the kitchen sink, and for some reason thought I could put it out with the 1 cup of water in my water bottle.  Didn’t work.  It just caused a lot of smoke.  Nice!

My roommate raced down the hallway and returned with the fire extinguisher while I dialed 911.  Watching her unclip the extinguisher and fumble with the sprayer was the longest 5 seconds of my life.  She finally got it to work and attacked the place while I repeated my address to the emergency dispatcher.  We left the apartment with smoke alarms blaring, the fire department showed up and did what they had to do, and we spent about 30 minutes outside while I shivered and cried a bit because I had forgotten to put on shoes or a jacket and it was 30 degrees outside.  And I was hella freaked out.

We reentered the building and talked with the firefighters before going back into the apartment.  They were so, so nice.  They reassured me that it wasn’t a big deal, things like this happen all the time, and that our apartment was impressively neat for college students…or at least, it had been…Unfortunately, the type of fire extinguisher we’d used causes the biggest mess of all.  They suggested we hire a professional cleaning company.  When we entered the apartment, we saw why.

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In addition to the fire damage (which was actually minimal, but all my study materials were destroyed haha), there was a thick layer of dust covering every single blessed surface and thing in the room.

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It looked like it had snowed.  Highly ironically, the pine-scented candle by our fake Christmas tree was still burning.  And my freakin’ computer was still merrily playing Jim Croce in my bedroom (thank goodness nothing happened to it!! I am so thankful for that).

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The contents of the burned backpack

At this point, it was 10 pm on Sunday night, and I had two final exams in addition to our two training sessions the next day.  My roommate, bless her heart, went out and got some cleaning supplies while I tried to decide where to begin.  We were two determined college girls and we were going to do this ourselves.

We cleaned for about 3 hours and eventually decided it was habitable and we could deal with the rest later.  We fell into bed and I may or may not have cried myself to sleep out of sheer exhaustion, regret, sorriness, and leftover panic.

The next day (Monday 12/11), we decided to just stay out of the apartment for the time being and focus on our other priorities.  I left around 8 am, did our morning training session, studied for awhile, took a nap on the couch in the locker room, took my first exam (Mujeres detrás de la cámara), did the second training session in the afternoon, and completed the Business Analytics pressure cooker and exam before heading home at 9:45 pm.  When I got home, I discovered that my roommate’s incredible mother had come down (they only live an hour away) and made a huge dent in the remaining cleaning process.  It looked so good.  ❤

Tuesday brought a track workout, more studying, and then I spent about two hours cleaning in the afternoon.  Wednesday was the same, and I finished my finance final at 9 pm and had a late, fun night to celebrate the end of the semester.  Finally, after running in the morning on Thursday, I cleaned all day and fell asleep twice out of exhaustion.  But look how much progress was made!  I’m really proud.

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There’s still a lot to do, but we’ve made excellent progress. I scrubbed every dang thing inside the cabinets and the refrigerator, washed every single shelf, cleaned the floor and every surface multiple times with baking soda and Swiffer wet wipes, etc. etc. etc.

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Pro tip: never set your apartment on fire!!

Anyway, it was quite the eventful end to the semester.  After a workout yesterday morning, we went out for lunch at my favorite restaurant and then I packed up and hit the road.

I’m exhausted from finals, increasingly hard training, not sleeping, a few too many cookies and alcoholic indulgences, and cleaning.  I’m grateful to all the amazing people and resources in my life.  And so far I’ve received A’s in half my classes from fall semester!! The other grades haven’t come out yet, but I’m extremely proud.

Will update on training, goals, life, plans, winter break, etc. in the next post!

Week of 12/4-12/10 (35)

Last Sunday of the semester! Classes are over, 3 finals loom over my head, and by this Wednesday night I will be halfway done with junior year of undergrad.  What!?

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This weekend was full of studying, holiday parties, lunch dates, and watching “Suits” on Amazon Prime.  And it snowed!  I’m currently jamming to Jim Croce while I take a break from studying and wait for my laundry to dry.

Over the past two days, I’ve probably consumed about 300 grams of sugar, so I’m kind of crashing from sugar jitters into a sugar coma that isn’t conducive to productive studying.  Sorry, Spanish final grade… #Ididthistomyself

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Annual cookie party! The shortbread jam and molasses cookies were the BOMB

Anyway.  I had a really good last week of training and life.  Sorting stuff out with my coaches, starting to feel normal again while running, and looking forward to building the strength and the booty in the weight room.

Week of 12/4-12/10:

  • Monday: AM: 30 min bike.  Trainer for stim/heat + stretch.  PM: lap, active warm-up, lap, speed ladder, hurdles, 5 miles, general strength, foam roll, rope stretch.
  • Tuesday: lap, active warm-up, 2 miles, 3 mile tempo (6:27, 6:17, 6:22), 2 miles.  I am out of shape!  Lift in weight room- felt strong but weak (as in, I felt good but know I will be much stronger.)  Stim + NormaTec.
  • Wednesday: AM: 60 min pool (30 swim, 30 aqua jog).  My swim pace is getting faster!  PM: circuits, rope stretch, foam roll.
  • Thursday:  AM: lap, active warm-up, 8 miles, upper body lift in weight room, NormaTec + stim/heat.  Run felt stiff and tiring but good meeting!  PM: 20 min bike.
  • Friday:  AM: 6 miles kinda fast, felt good! 4 x strides, speed ladder, hurdle drills, general strength 2.  PM: circuits (4 min elliptical w/u and c/d)
  • Saturday: 9 miles (started at 7:20s, cut down to 6:40s, and my last mile was like 6:25).  It was rainy and cold but I felt awesome!  The group was great.
  • Sunday: 30 min bike.  Planning on doing yoga tonight, but we’ll see if that happens 😉
Total: 35 miles + 140 min XT + lots of strength
Had some really good runs and cross trains throughout this week.  Tuesday and Thursday weren’t fun; I definitely could not have gone much faster or longer than Tuesday’s measly 3-mile tempo, and my legs felt tight and unpleasant throughout Thursday’s run.
But Monday and Friday went really well, and we crushed Saturday’s long run!  6:40 miles felt almost easy, and I really pushed the last mile since the run was shorter than usual.  After spending over an hour in the freezing rain and wind, it took us awhile to warm up afterwards.  My roommate and I hibernated in our apartment eating oatmeal, drinking coffee, and listening to Christmas music while a fake fireplace crackled on the TV (lol).
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A wee bit chilly!

Shoutout to strength- the guns are unreal right now!  When we first realized we’d be doing strength routines every day, we were a little apprehensive and overwhelmed, but the circuits have turned out to be more like cross trains, and each routine works different muscles, so it’s not like we’re hitting the same thing every day.
I’m excited to increase the mileage and continue to focus on deliberate practice.  Everything we do is incorporated into our training for a reason!  I should hit low-to-mid-40s throughout this coming week.  Haven’t decided when I’m going home, but I’m looking forward to finishing out the semester strong (hopefully)!  Tomorrow brings a Spanish exam from 2-5 pm and a business analytics exam and pressure cooker from 7-10 pm.  The grind is #tooreal.
Have a great week and get after it!

A long road ahead

Good morning! (By the time I finish writing this, it probably won’t be morning anymore, but whatever.)  We’re in the middle of the last week of classes, and I’ve got three final exams, two final presentations, and a paper on tap.  In eight days, I will be halfway done with junior year!  After practice and lift this morning, I worked on a group project and then went to the training room for STIM and NormaTec.  I don’t feel like doing work before lunch, so I’m going to blog instead 🙂

We ran what was supposed to be a steady state workout this morning, but it definitely felt more like a tempo.  This was essentially my first workout back, and I 100% felt the time off, crappier diet, and general out-of-shape-ness.  I only ran 3 miles of the steady state due to my hamstring, but those 3 miles were enough!  We hit 6:27, 6:17, 6:22, and now I can see how much work is ahead.  It was so hard.  I don’t think I could have gone much farther.  Crazy to think that I was doing 5+ miles at low 6 minute pace during cross country…  But I’m excited to buckle down, make incremental improvements, and get better each day.  This is a good starting place…but not where I will be in a few months!!

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Me

The second week of winter training was a little weird because I tweaked my hamstring at the beginning of the week and therefore spent the majority of the rest of the week in the pool and on the bike.  Pool workouts coupled with quality strength sessions every day left me sore.

Week of 11/27-12/3: 

  • Monday: warm-up, dynamic exercises, 5 miles @ 7:20 pace, strength circuits
  • Tuesday: warm-up, dynamic drills and exercises, 6 miles “progressive” (first 3 7:30-7:10 pace, second 3 6:40s?), lift in weight room, foam roll session
  • Wednesday: AM: 60 min pool (30 swim, 30 aqua jog).  PM: jog on turf, circuits
  • Thursday:  Stim and stretch at training room for hamstring.  20 min bike, very light lift, foam roll, 30 min swim (about a mile)
  • Friday: AM: 60 min pool workout (600m warm-up; 4 x 250m hard; 100m easy; 5 x sprint down, easy back; 100m easy; 5 x submarine down, easy back, 400m cool down = 3000m).  PM: 30 min bike, general strength
  • Saturday: 6 miles @ 7:30 (on trails) down to 7:05 (on roads) + 30 min bike
  • Sunday: 40 min bike

Total: 17 miles + 270 min XT

Last week involved some drama and major negative mentality.  I’m not going to go into inappropriate detail, but I’ll just say we have a lot to sort out with training plans, communication, and mindset.


On a happier note, outside of running and cross training, lots of fun things happened last week!  After practice on Friday, the majority of the team went out for sushi.  I’d never ordered sushi before (I’ve had it, but I prefer Thai and Chinese food), and it was delicious.  Except I’m kind of broke, so not sure if it was worth the bill 😉

We drove to a local sports complex to run on Saturday morning because there’s a hilly, soft surface 3.5 mile trail loop in the woods.  The chilly air left our hands stiff and red, but we eventually warmed up, and it was a nice run!  Throughout the cross country season, our maintenance runs a) stopped being maintenance runs #ugh and b) got really slow, so getting back into that 7:00-7:30 pace is a bit of a shock but really fun.

After the run, I drove up to Richmond to meet my mom for lunch.  She had important things to deliver to me…like 50 citrus fruits, my credit card statement, Advent calendar, and ice scraper.  We went to The Daily Kitchen and Bar in Carytown, and I ordered the Fig and Pig pizza while she got the Barbecue Duck pizza.  HOLY SHIT.  Life-changing.  We also ordered their highly rated Brussels sprouts; paired with balsamic dressing, freshly shaved cheese, pomegranate seeds, and pistachios, they were gone in seconds.

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Two late nights in a row and myriad late-night #treatyoself happenstances left me feeling pretty darn gross by Sunday.  I’ve been back on that healthy grind for three days, and I’m reminding myself to fuel my training and treat my body like a temple 😉 or something like that.

Sunday night was Grand Illumination!  Thousands of people crowded the streets of Colonial Williamsburg to watch the fireworks under the light of the SuperMoon.  The Christmas decorations in the square made me so happy, and everyone enjoyed the holiday spirit.

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Last night was the annual Vermonster that all the sports teams participate in.  I was not on the team, but I cheered my heart out!  Women’s cross country almost made the final round but missed it by one spot because one girl got stuck with the gross cookies and almost choked…  Men’s cross country placed second to the unstoppable men’s swim team!  Vermonster is such a spectacle, it’s hilarious.

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This week, I plan to increase my mileage, continue to cross train, and practice deliberately. I’ll probably hit low 30s for mileage, along with a few hours of cross training. By deliberate practice, I mean focus during all drills, active warm-up sessions, and strength circuits.  Additionally, I’m going to slow down and take the time to stretch and foam roll effectively.  This is somewhat of a weak point because I tend to get complacent and get stuck in the same ineffectual routine.  But these are the little things that, when incorporated day in and day out, make the difference in training and racing.