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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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…

 

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Summer Training Week 1

It’s that time of year again- summer training recap time!  I’ve done this for the past two years, and it’s fun to be able to look back at training from past years.

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Nutrition is an important part of summer training, so here is a pretty parfait 🙂

The 16-mile week doesn’t really count, so I’m going to say that last week was my first week of summer training 🙂

Week 1: (5/22-5/28)

Monday: 4 miles on bike path + some yoga
Tuesday: 4 miles into 30 min bike + lower body lift
Wednesday: 60 min bike
Thursday: 5 miles on bike path + drills and strides + core.  First run in new shoes.
Friday: 4 miles into 30 min bike + upper body lift
Saturday: 6 miles on bike path
Sunday: off

Total: 23 miles + 120 min XT

This first week was okay.  The runs and cross trains felt fine, but unfortunately my bunion really hurt on almost every run.  At home, I don’t have access to the laser and stim/compex and other resources that the training room provides, so I’m going to have to get creative with treatment to keep this pain under control.

What I can do: warm Epsom salt foot soaks, ice baths, rolling, stretching/mobility, topical anti-inflammatory treatment.

On a more positive note, both lifts went really well.  We jumped right back into the full lift routine, so I was so sore after Tuesday!  My hamstring felt like it might rip off my body.  But the soreness has subsided, and I have a nice baseline for my fitness.  I’m excited to get stronger this summer!

Non-training highlights from this week:

A couple of my teammates came up to visit, and we explored Georgetown on an overcast day:

Jazz in the Garden on the Mall with a friend:

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I made cha siu baos from scratch for the first time (it was a two-day process, but so worthwhile):

…and my mom and I went shopping (*groan*) and explored our favorite farmer’s market (*cheers*)!

My goals for this coming week include:

  • Spend less time on my phone, especially before bed
  • Be proactive about bunion pain
  • Two yoga sessions and glute activation
  • Try to get more quality sleep!  I wake up naturally at or before 6 am, so I need to go to bed early to account for this
  • Continue quality nutrition
  • Start my remote writing internship!
  • Focus on non-cooking hobbies as well, such as playing piano, knitting, reading, and writing

 

Track goals

It’s indoor track season, sort of!

We’re currently smack in the middle of finals, and so far I’ve completed my Accounting and Hispanic Studies finals.  My brain hurts.  I still have psych and gender but not until next week, so I’m giving myself a break tonight 🙂

We’re continuing the mileage build-up; I ran 29 miles last week (plus some cross training) and will probably run around 38 or so this week (plus some cross training).  Running is hard…

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After some big fitness jumps during the past six months, I’m excited to see where the indoor and outdoor track seasons take me.  Track is much more of an individual sport than cross country, but we are all still working together to achieve our goals.  Our coach uses the indoor season as preparation for outdoor, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still make goals for both 🙂  These goals are all-encompassing: time-related, strength-related, and mentality-related.

Speaking of which, I went to the weight room for the first time in a month yesterday, and I am unspeakably sore today.  Can’t wait to get strong again 😉

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Goals for 2017 track:

  • Qualify for ECACs in the 3k and/or 5k.
    • I’ll update this once this year’s standards are released, but last year’s qualifying times were 9:56 and 17:16.  (My 3k PR from last year is 10:22).
  • Be able to do all sets of pull-ups/chin-ups unassisted in the weight room.
  • Increase hamstring flexibility and hip and glute strength.
  • Don’t mentally limit or doubt myself.  Believe in a high ceiling.
  • Support my teammates as much as I possibly can!

What I will do to do my best to achieve these goals:

  • Give my best in the weight room and focus on form, effort, and function.
  • Don’t half-ass rope stretching, rolling, etc.  Spend the extra 5 minutes being thorough to avoid injury.
  • As always, “Give 100% of whatever you have on any given day.”
    • This is my favorite thing my coach has ever said.  Some days are harder than others.  A lot of days truly suck.  That’s just the reality of being a Division 1 cross country and track athlete.  The bad days, the good days- they’re all part of the process.
    • As long as you try your best, you shouldn’t worry if some days you can’t hit the paces or some days you have to crawl your maintenance runs.  And appreciate the days where you hit paces you never have before!
  • Control the things you can control, and don’t worry about the things you can’t.
    • Sleep- go to bed at 10 pm as much as possible.
    • Nutrition- eat well most of the time, indulge sometimes, balance
    • Listen to your body
    • Yoga 😉

 

I’ll probably update these goals or expand upon them as my season progresses and once I find out qualifying times and race plans.  But this is where they stand for now!

The Mile

I raced my very first full mile on Saturday!  Because of my lower leg issues, my coaches and I didn’t decide if I was racing until a couple days before the meet.  I knew I was in decent shape, but I’ve been training more for the 3k and have only been doing one workout per week as a precautionary measure, so I wasn’t really sure what I could do in the mile.

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The meet was 2.5 hours away and the bus was leaving at 8 am, so after a low-key night of cooked cinnamon apples and Interstellar…

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I got up at 6:30 to do my shakeout, shower, and eat breakfast.  I ate oatmeal and blueberry acai yogurt for an early breakfast and packed a PB&J, banana, chocolate chip Clif bar, orange, Sabra hummus and pretzels, and another blueberry acai yogurt to bring to the meet.  I ate the banana and half the sandwich about 3 hours before the race.

Two and a half hours later, we rolled up to the meet.  Two of my teammates and I warmed up for about 20 minutes and did dynamic stretches, skips, and strides.  We lined up, the gun went off, and we were off.

I had never raced a full mile before, so it was weird lining up nine meters before the “normal” starting line.  The first lap was a bit of a madhouse, with twelve pairs of elbows flying and legs tripping each other up.  I found myself out in the third lane on the back stretch.  The clock said 40 or 41 as I passed it the first time, and I freaked out that we were going too slow for a second before realizing that-duh- that was for 209 meters.

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I have no idea what my splits were, but I think I passed halfway in 2:38, maybe?  I know my splits dropped off a little in the second half since I stuck behind two girls that were slowing down, but I eventually passed them.

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I waited until 200 meters out to kick even though my coach had wanted me to kick from much farther out, but I passed two more people and crossed the finish line in 5:17.07.

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I was hoping I’d crossed the line at 5:16.xx, but according to online conversions, a 5:17.07 full mile on a flat track converts to 5:15.23 for 1600 meters and 5:13.9 full mile on a banked track!  I’ll take it.  I haven’t even really been doing speedwork or many workouts at all.  It’s a solid point for the first race after break.

Afterwards, we jogged for a few minutes, did 8 minutes at an up-tempo pace (a little slower than pace run pace), and cooled down for about 12 minutes.  Total mileage for the day was about 8.5.

Last week’s training:

Monday: 6 miles, drills, strides, strength circuit
Tuesday: AM: hip stability, strength, ice cup at the trainer.  PM: 20 min w-u, 10 min tempo, 5 x [:60h, :30e], 5 min tempo, 5 x [:60h, :30e] w/ a couple min rest between each thing.  10ish min c-d.  Total: 9 miles
Wednesday: 60 minutes aqua jog, mini run (8 min) at the trainer
Thursday: 6 miles, drills, strides, strength circuit/abs, yoga
Friday: 4 miles pre-meet, strides
Saturday: 2 mile shakeout, 20 min w-u, mile (5:17.07), 22 min workout/c-d. Total: 8.5 miles
Sunday: 9 miles MR+

Total: 42.5 miles, 60 min XT, extra strength

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Post- 9 mile MR+ treats (the Wawa cup is half coffee, half hot chocolate)

I’ve been absolutely ravenous for the past few days and shoveling in all the fruits and vegetables and yogurt and potatoes and bagels and nut butter and chicken and ice cream I can possibly get my hands on.  I guess we’re hitting that point in training/racing!  The next couple weeks are probably going to hit me pretty hard what with travel, more intense schoolwork, increases in mileage and intensity, and more racing.  I’ll just try to take it as it comes, listen to my body, fuel properly, try to get in a solid sleep routine, and focus on my goals.  We had a team goal session today, and I shared one of my time goals; I’d really like to run 10:15 or faster in the 3k this year.  I shared it.  It’s real.  It’s on the table.  I might race a 3k on Saturday.  I’m feeling good about my fitness right now, so I’d just like to keep taking things as they come and see where that leads me.

Outdoor track goals

As a quick recap, here’s a general summary of what my indoor season looked like, along with my previous PRs:

Mile: PR before indoor- 5:32
5:27
5:27
5:19

Two mile: PR before indoor- 11:59
12:02
11:36
11:28

800: PR before indoor- 2:29
2:23

Outdoor track goals 2014

On my “Goals” page, the goals I made for this season back in August are sub-2:25, 5:18, and 11:30.  I clearly did not expect the time drops that have occurred over the past few months, and I’m really, really happy with my times right now.  Time to edit those goals!

New goals: sub- 2:20 800.  I actually don’t care if I achieve this one or not because I’ve always considered myself to be more of a mile/two mile girl.  Who knows if I’ll even run 800s this spring?  Although I think I’m running a 4×8 in two weeks; obviously I won’t be in sub-2:20 shape by then considering that we haven’t even started doing workouts yet.  But if I run the 800 later in the season, that’s the time goal.

sub-5:15 mile: I really want to see what I can do in the mile this spring.  My 5:19 back in January was completely unprecedented, but it psyched me up for outdoor!  However, I don’t know how much more time I can drop, so I’m hoping five seconds is the way to go.

sub-11:20 two mile: Again, I don’t know how much more time I can drop, since 31 seconds came off in the span of one season.  But it would be so nice to be in the teens!