Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pennsylvania dreamin'

I definitely had a dream last night that I somehow found the Penn State cross country course and was walking around it at night to see if it was hilly or not. This might have something to do with the fact that I literally went to look at pictures from meets held at the course to see if it looked hilly or not...for the record, it didn't, but a few pictures taken at one point on the course doesn't really mean much.

But eeeh! I'm excited! I feel like its been a really long time since I felt like something really big was on the horizon, and I think I've realized what the difference is - the TEAM aspect of this. We're trash talking and our boys are gunning for the national championship - hello, I don't care who you are, that's freaking exciting! And you know, the girls are looking pretty damn good ourselves. Seriously, I don't know if we can get Oregon (they are pretty freaking ridiculous) but seriously, Michigan? Why are you still ranked #1? Yeah, you have one girl who runs a sub-23 6K, but one top runner does not a winning XC team make. I'm so, so, SO proud of how far our girls team has come this year - we have a really solid top 4 or 5 and really no one at the back of the pack. I wouldn't be surprised if we surprise some people at nationals as long as we go in ready to ROCK. I just really want to see the course!!

I am really ADD right now...I'm working on writing this stupid paper for my "physical activity and health class" (aka, the worst/most obvious class ever....exercising is good for you, really?) I can't even count how many times I've written the words "continuous and intermittent exercise" in the past 2 days...yes, that is what my paper is about, I didn't have a choice. I've made it to the conclusion and this version isn't graded except for the fact that its done on time, so at least it can be a pile of crap and someone else can rip it apart for me, I don't care.

OK, I seriously can't do anything else right now. Maybe the gingerbread latte was a mistake. Cutdown intervals on the track today - mile, 1200, 800, 400, I really have no clue what pace but I guess we'll see. It's going to be COLD. Hope the hip holds up...hooray.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


I think I owe the girl who took my shift at work on Friday some cookies or something. Because if it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have FINALLY raced a kickass PR on a course that I 100% know wasn't short. I mean, they were running a high school sectional on it immediately afterward, and there were actually lines on the course this year to tell you where to go to the finish...there was nothing screwy. So, here we have it, my new 5K PR....

20:46!! That would be 6:41/mile pace. Yeah, I kick ass.

It's actually kind of funny, because the day leading up to the race was nothing exciting...in fact, I felt kind of sick and exhausted when I woke up, not at ALL in the mood to race. I had only run 3 miles on Thursday and 4 on Wednesday since my hip has been in agony ever since our ridiculous hill workout at Pope Farms on Tuesday. Plus races on Friday are just weird to me now...in high school it was so normal to have a meet on a school day, but now its like WTF? It throws my whole schedule off. And on top of that, I had to drive to Winneconne...driving being one of my least favorite things to do, especially before a race. After managing to not fall asleep at the wheel or get lost, we arrived and found out that the meet, which was originally supposed to be $10 each, was going to be free because Oshkosh had a HUGE meet the weekend before and didn't feel like getting chip timing for this one, which is basically a JV race for some of the WIAC schools. Everything was kind of low key, and I think because of that I never really felt nervous at all. There was kind of an underlying pressure to do well, because I mean, I'd made a really big effort to go to this meet, and I really wanted to validate my time from last year, but I guess I just really wasn't in race mode until the gun went off.

A side note to explain about Oshkosh's home course - if you are going to run a PR, this is the place to do it. Its the flattest cross country course I've ever seen...there are a few "slopes" I guess but no real hills to speak of. Its all on grass and it just loops around so you really don't think while you're running it...all of a sudden you're just done. It's amazing and I knew I had run a fast time here last year (even with the course most likely being short) and I was hoping that despite the problems I'd been having that I would be able to pull out a good time today.

I spent the first mile of the race about 5 seconds behind Katie....who ended up running a 19:36. Brilliance? I know, right. I honestly was pretty zoned out for the first mile - I ended up coming through in 6:19 and felt awesome, although obviously I know that something that good was definitely not going to last. But just like at Lacrosse, I really RACED...it was kind of fun having it be a smaller race, because I could just gradually reel people in and pick them off...and I greatly enjoyed doing so. The only person who passed me the entire race was Cameron, other than that I was just the passer, not the passee...which is awesome. I went through the 2 mile at 13:17 so obviously I had slowed down a bit, and I knew I was really going to have to dig in for this last mile to get under 21, since the last mile is where I always die. And for once in my life, I did. I was hurting, yes, but I absolutely refused to slow down. The entire last mile the line from "Swim" was screaming in my head..."I'M NOT GIVING IN"...and every time I felt like I wanted to back off a bit I just looked at the girl in front of me, dug in, and kept pushing. When I finally saw the finish line, I just gave it everything - there was no clock at the finish so I honestly had no clue what my time was until I looked at my watch and saw those beautiful numbers - 20:46. And life was glorious. I ended up getting 11th out of 37 runners, basically I was thrilled. It was an awesome day, made even better by the fact that now I didn't feel obligated to race on the death course at our home meet on Saturday, and so could go out to the Blue Moon and enjoy a giant cheeseburger and broccoli cheddar poppers and Capital Brewery Oktoberfest. Win.

My hip KILLED on Saturday...it was very unpleasant. I went and watched/helped out at the home meet, BF and I 'worked the corner' of the course and watched everyone braving the ridiculous death hills of Pope Farms Park. The night that followed was fantastic, there was a track club drunken shindig, we adopted the Minnesotans, and I enjoyed more than my share of victory beer...not that it prevented me from going and running 12.5 miles this morning or anything. Sometimes I feel like there is nothing more wonderful than a long, easy run on a gorgeous fall day, through trails where the leaves are changing colors, next to a lake, after an awesome weekend, when you had a blast the night before and magically aren't hungover. And the best part was, my hip has been bothering my less today than it has in a looong time. My calves are super tight and sore for some reason, but the hip is feeling ok...crossing my fingers that I'm finally on the road to recovery!

So I have been looking at the NIRCA rankings/results, and I think our girls team might actually have a shot at placing really well at nationals too. With all of our top runners together, I think we can really do some damage...and I'm looking forward to it!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Feel the tide shifting and wait for the spark

So I officially had an amazing weekend. Not only did I run my first decent race since last cross country season, but I also ran my longest run ever - 14 miles! - and beat my half marathon PR in the process. Kickass? I think so.

So first, the race. Since the guys race was at 10:30 and West Salem is a good 2 and a half hours away, we had to leave at 6:30 am, meaning I was up before 6. Some last minute advice from the BF (leave early so you don't have to tire your legs out biking fast to the union, take some of my raisin bran crunch so you have something good to snack on, and run fast :)) and I was off. Nicole and I finally got to reclaim our posts as "token girls" in a van filled with boys on the drive up. It was incredibly foggy -visibility was terrible - and I slept/sat with my eyes closed as much as I could since it was damn early and I was nervous.

We got to the course around 9:15 and it was COLD. The fog was still ridiculous, and we learned that they had changed the course from last year, so we decided to walk the course and check it out. I absolutely adore the LaX course. The first mile is completely flat, a loop around a field, then there's a smaller loop and you head into the lower part of the course. The entire first 2 miles are either flat or downhill, although its kind of made up for by the fact that the 3rd mile is mostly hills. This definitely isn't a negative split kind of race, but you can go out hard and not worry about the hills until you get there. At one point a deer came bounding across the golf course through the mist which was awesome...talk about inspiration to run fast! Then it was time to warm up and cheer on our boys.
Start of the boys race, running into the mist

And then it was our turn. I think the difference between my race at LaX and the past races this season was that I actually WANTED to race. From the minute I got up, I was ready to kick some ass. And, since the LaX meet has to be perfect, by the time our race was ready to go the sun had come out and it was an absolutely glorious day. We got kicked out of our box by some stupid team from North Dakota (bitches.) and so got to start the race on cement - awesome! But none of that mattered once the gun went off. The first mile was absolutely INSANE. 444 girls pushing and shoving and falling and getting spiked...mayhem. The beauty of the first mile on this course is that its flat and crowded, so its really easy to be so wrapped up in not tripping over someone that you don't even realize that you're almost done with the first mile. As we came through the mile mark, MILEY CYRUS was playing over the loudspeakers...I'm pretty sure I actually cracked a smile over that. I went through the mile in 6:27...ummm....yeah. Like I said, its flat, and you zone out, and you don't realize that that was a ridiculous pace to go out in, but whatever! I was pretty close behind our lead pack of Claire, Laura, and Tali at that point, but they started pulling away soon after.

I started falling back a bit during the second loop, but really I think I was just settling more into my actual pace - you know, not kamikaze 6:27 pace, haha. There was a lovely downhill where I passed quite a few people, and I came through the 2 mile in 13:17...yes, that's like 45 seconds faster than I did at Parkside. I was still feeling pretty awesome at that point and was enjoying zoning in on girls ahead of me and picking them off...something that I haven't been able to do all season! Things started falling apart a little bit when we got to the dreaded "hill of sand" as I so deemed it my freshman year (when I ran 3 minutes slower than I did on Saturday, haha). It's a hill that isn't terribly steep, but its long, and the terrain is this ridiculous mud/sand that sends you sliding backwards as you're trying to go forward. Jade passed me at that point looking really strong, but I was holding my own still. At the top of the sand hill came my point that I have in every race where I just really want to quit - all good feelings from the past 2 miles were erased and I slowed down a LOT for about 30 seconds. In retrospect, this probably cost me a PR, but I got it together pretty quickly because I knew the 3 mile was coming up, and I was over the last of the bad hills. I started trying to pick people off again around the 3 mile, and came through the 5K in 21:35. This was when I heard Dallas screaming at Nicole that she was only 7 seconds behind me, which I think gave me a bit of extra motivation because come hell or high water I was not going to let her beat me. Just after the 5K Karin came up on me and passed me. I passed her back a couple minutes later, and we headed for home running pretty much together. I've never had that happen in a race before - that someone from the WTC is running with me near the end of the race - and it was honestly pretty awesome and kept me going. We turned for the final straightaway and I tried to kick as hard as I could - my legs felt like they were about to fall off at that point. She outkicked me a little bit and ended up beating me by a second and a half, but I was still absolutely ecstatic when I crossed the finish line - I had FINALLY run a good race! My official time was 25:49, a bit slower than my PR on this course last year, but considering the races I have been having so far this season, I was more than happy with it.

I think the best part about the race was the fact that I felt like I was actually competing - picking off people, not being content to let people pass me, trying to relax and maintain. Really the only time when things fell apart a little bit was at the top of the sand hill, and I know that by the time nationals roll around I'll be able to push through that better.

So I was pretty much dead, but at the same time ready to celebrate by the time I got home, so the BF and I split a 6 pack of New Glarus Staghorn and then went out to a friend's party and to the Nitty Gritty. The night was topped off by a triple order of bacon/taco Topper's Stix...ah yes, I needed to replenish those carbs.

Well after a night of drinking, I wasn't too thrilled when my alarm went off at 8:30 to meet Claire at the union at 9, but a few swigs of Gatorade and I was out the door for what turned into an absolutely epic/awesome run. We decided to go to the Arb, which is absolutely fantastic in the fall, and go explore some of the trails off the loop.
My favorite trail in the Arb. Aren't I lucky?

We ended up exploring on the other side of the tunnel that goes under the beltline for about 35 minutes, and then ran the rest of the loop and along Lake Wingra. I ran back to Regent and then back home, for at total of ~14 miles in 1:50 (It's runs like these that make me wish I had a Garmin). So pretty much...I beat my half marathon PR on a long run, and I also ran the furthest distance I've ever run...after a race and a night of drinking. Bottom line: I'm awesome.

And finally, to top off my fantastic weekend, I was at work yesterday and found someone to work for me on Friday...meaning I will be racing at the Oshkosh Open on the flattest course ever. And after this weekend, I have some confidence that I can put together an awesome 5K race...I'm so ready. I don't know what I'm going to do about our home meet yet, I feel super guilty not going so I might just have to suck it up and run there too...run it as a workout or whatever...we shall see! Pretty much it depends on if the BF cares about not going to the game... I honestly don't, especially since the Badgers are sucking the big one this year.

And finally, something completely non-running related, here are the Octoberfest beers I have tried so far this year:
-Flying Dog Brewery Dogtoberfest
-Bell's Octoberfest
-Capital Brewery Autumnal Fire
-New Glarus Brewery Staghorn
-Blue Moon Harvest Moon
Dogtoberfest is my favorite so far, followed closely by Autumnal Fire which is just amazing. Harvest Moon is great too because its a bit different than the other Octoberfests. I'm sure there will be more to come...there are just so many to try! And after all...apparently 1 beer with pasta the night before (among other things....;)) is the recipe for a great race!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Redemption in 6K form

Not quite a PR, but damn it, I'll take it! For the first time in a long time, I RACED. And I am so, so, so happy.
Race report later...I need to celebrate this victory over myself with some beer. :)

Monday, October 13, 2008


So every season, it seems like I have one race that just absolutely SUCKS. I feel like shit, my legs quit on me a mile in, I'm never mentally in it, everyone who I should beat beats me, etc. In the past I've always chalked it up to something going wrong with my training and every season I hope it's not going to happen again. But wow, if there was ever a shit race, Saturday was it. Which is ironic really, because I was the one who really wanted to race this weekend and organized going to the meet...check out how that backfired.

Now I can't totally kill myself over my time (though it was complete shit) because everyone's time was 30 seconds-1:15 slower than they ran at Parkside 3 weeks ago, and the freaking winner of the meet only ran a 20:39. The course at Ripon is pretty much equivalent to dying a slow and painful death, a fact which I chose to ignore when signing up for the meet. Approximately 1000 meters of the first mile is uphill. And not a slight incline...this is a hill of death.woo hoo, there it goes! and we're nowhere even close to the top

But here's what I can be frustrated with myself about: the fact that mentally and physically, I was NEVER in the race. Claire passed me on the first hill, Jade, Nicole, and Taylor all passed me shortly after the mile mark, Nicole BEAT me (it was only by 2 seconds because I finally snapped out of it the last mile and realized oh right, I'm in a RACE here). My legs simply would not function - my calves cramped up like no other, I felt like throwing up, and mentally I was so alarmed with how I felt after the first mile that I freaked out, which most likely made things worse. I have a bad tendency to do that - if I don't feel good at the 1 mile mark, I start thinking about how much further I have to go and focus completely on how crappy I feel, which sends my race to shit. I wanted so badly to go with Jade, but I couldn't convince my legs to go any faster. Granted, I also have that small fact that I ran 6 1200s at ridiculous speeds on Thursday (everyone else ran 4...the joys of having to do workouts alone), but still, it was utterly frustrating to watch my teammates, who I KNOW I'm faster than, leave me in the dust. I've had 3 weeks of solid training since the last meet - this should be when its starting to show, not when it all goes to crap. What I really needed from this race was a confidence boost going into LaX next weekend, and that definitely isn't what I got. It's not even about the time, because those can pretty much be discounted from this race, its about my placement on the team and why I just can't pull it out in races. It's really frustrating, and I find it hard to blame on my mileage because its not like I've been feeling fatigued or adding on distance or anything. All I can hope is that this was my shitty race for the season - I always have one - and move on. And hope that everything I've been doing will come through for me when it really matters...like this weekend.

OK, rant over. I ran the arb loop today even though there was really no reason for me to run 7 miles, but there are certain things I need to do for myself after a crappy race and the arb is one of those runs that just puts me at ease. I know it like the back of my hand and I can just cruise. Plus I didn't have to go into work today and I wanted to take advantage of the nice day. 800s at painful pace tomorrow...I don't even know why I'm running with the 20:30 group anymore, since based on my times so far this season I can't see how that's EVER going to happen. But it's not over til its over, and maybe the not-so-great races I've been having are really just a setup for something incredible that's just over the horizon...if I just keep pushing towards it. I know I have it in me...and one of these days, I'm going to prove it. Just watch me.

Ripon Invite - 5K XC
23:17 (7:30 pace...ugh)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The best running word ever...

Fartlek. Hee hee hee.

There are few things better than waking up from a night of drinking beer and mowing down a triple order of Topper Stix (which were free because I actually won a raffle for the first time in my life), feeling fine, and going out and doing a great workout in absolutely PERFECT running weather (53 and sunny...gorgeous!). Its made even better by the fact that the rest of the day is going to be spent drinking, grilling, and hopefully watching the Badgers kill Ohio State tonight. Even though we'll be doing so without a BAND since they're apparently suspended due to hazing...awesome. Not really sure how that's going to work out, but I'm sure the student section will be willing to drunkenly sing On Wisconsin if we have to.
Goal for today: remember walking into the stadium. ;)

Also, the new Jack's Mannequin album is fabulous. I've been waiting for them to come out with one for soooo long and it definitely has not disappointed. Andrew McMahon is a genius.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Pain is temporary, pride is forever...

Me: I shouldn't have done that workout yesterday...my knee was so messed up
Nicole: So why did you do it?
Me: I don't know...I had to...400s are so good for you!
Nicole: You make them sound like vegetables.
Me: They are like vegetables! Though vegetables don't make your hamstrings hurt...

So yeah. I'm somewhere on the border of injured, but I refuse to actually make the jump over the line into actually injured. After an awesome (well, as awesome as a hungover, HILLY long run could be) 10-miler in Elkhart Lake on Sunday, I was feeling perfectly fine until about 4 hours later, when the back of my knee kind of started to twinge a little bit. Being me, I ignored it, ran a 6-miler at 7:19 pace on Monday, felt nothing while running and nothing major when I wasn't, so I wasn't worried. Tuesday I woke up and things were a little worse...straightening my knee hurt, and walking was a little difficult...and then me, being a moron, decide I need to go on a suicide mission and do the scheduled workout for the day: 10 x 400s. Because, you know, SPEEDWORK is definitely the one thing that's going to help an injury...right? Well, last night I was in complete agony...I was to the point of tears because i couldn't even straighten my leg. Then today, I wake up and things feel almost normal. I still feel it twinge once in awhile, but for the most part it seems ok...nothing at all like last night. I happened to be at the Nat for a meeting earlier so I figured I'd put my tuition to good use and stop by at the UHS walk in sports med clinic. Basically here's what I learned:
1 - I may or may not have the beginnings of hamstring tendonitis. So basically, I'm going to pretend like that's my problem and do the stretching and exercises recommended to help it even though I'm not 100% on that diagnosis...I mean, it was a student after all.
2 - People are really, really impressed when you tell them you run 50 miles a week ;)

So that's that, and things had better keep improving because I don't have time to slack off right now. Nicole ran a 21:28 at the meet this weekend, officially putting her above me for the season and dangerously close to my best times in the past. I have to say, that struck a bit of fear into my heart. We're really good friends and all, but I'm competitive, and she's the one who keeps telling me "oh, I'm so not a distance runner". But maybe this will be the little bit of extra motivation I need to keep working hard at practice and maybe start putting the hammer down more in races - no more wimping out on myself!

Also, I just have to comment on how awesome the WTC is. Our boys are ranked 2nd in the nation for NIRCA, and just this week the girls moved into the rankings in 3rd! SO exciting!! Also, the guys definitely beat Wisconsin at the Loyola meet...now I know it was their B team, but still...you can't deny that's pretty damn awesome.

School's lame, I think I already have senioritis. But I am so looking forward to this weekend! Ohio State night game should be amazing, and I am looking to find me some Dogtoberfest from Flying Dog Brewery, which I sampled this weekend in Elkhart Lake with Andrew and it may just be the best beer I've ever had. And the Brewers made the playoffs!! For the first time in 26 years (so...the first time since I've been a fan...or alive for that matter). Not that they're going to go that far (the loss today was pretty bad) but hey, they made it, and that definitely counts for something.