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.
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! There 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…