Saturday, November 28, 2009


Well, it's officially been a week since the NCAA XC National meet in Cleveland and the end of my 3rd season as a Green Knight cross country runner.

I've definitely done a lot of reflecting as the week has gone by. While I was shooting for a top 5 finish, finishing where I did - 10th - less than 2 seconds out of 7th - is something I am trying my very, very best to not be disappointed about. First off, I got horrendously boxed in at the start of the race and fought my way to the front pack for the entire first mile of the race. I really don't know how it happened; last year I seemed to find my way to the front pack instantly, but for some reason this year, I felt like I still got out incredibly quick but yet when I tried to move up actually got stuck. It was pretty frightening, and I know for a fact that had I not run at Nationals twice prior, I would have panicked and probably never worked my way up, certainly not near top 15 status. Instead, I just kept telling myself to stay calm, and eventually I made it near the front pack and was finally able to settle in a little after mile 1. I still wasted more energy in that first mile than I should have, but anyways, that is one of the reasons that I tell myself I can't be disappointed with my performance. It was also a much hillier course than I think most of us envisioned, and it rained the 2 days prior to the meet, making the footing pretty terrible. So, with these things considered, I can handle 10th place. It's not like I'm totally satisfied with 10th -- I WILL move up next year -- but I know I gave my best effort last Saturday and for that I can put a smile on my face!

It was a roller coaster of a season. I was unable to defend my title and course record at our sole home meet in early September, unable to defend my Midwest Conference crown at our meet on Halloween, both times losing to my arch-rival from Carroll University, and yet, when it truly mattered, at the Regional and National meet, I beat her soundly. To me, the coaching says it all. I have a Coach who knows how to peak athletes at the right time. It felt really good to be able to run my very best when it mattered most. Giving up those 2 titles was totally worth it when in the end I was an All-American (for the 6th!!! time!) ... and she wasn't! It wasn't easy to not lose confidence when I was unable to defend my title - it made me question my training and start comparing last season to this one. But, with the help of my Coach, and the book I mentioned in my last post, Inner Gym (by Gary Mack), I was able to realize every season brings new challenges and that it's impossible to compare one season to another. I am so glad I was able to stay strong mentally, and so again this is another reason why finishing 10th is still very fulfilling.

It's crazy that it's only been a week since the race. With Thanksgiving Break, it seems more like a month ago I raced in Cleveland! I have been doing my best to take some time off of running and just try and relax. This is an incredibly hard thing for me to do, especially because I think the bottom line is that running just makes me feel SO good. However, last year I jumped right back in and took hardly any time off (against the wishes of my Coach) and ended up injuring my IT band badly within a couple of weeks. I obviously don't want this to happen again so I'm trying my best to go to the pool or elliptical or bike to get away from the pounding for a couple of weeks. I just wish sometimes it wasn't so hard for me to take it easy. Relaxing just simply does not come easily for me! I constantly feel like there's something that needs to be done! I'm going to try my best to shift my focus to school these next couple of weeks -- exams are in a little over 2 weeks from now and my GPA could always use a boost!

Well, I think I've rambled on enough for now. I just wanted to take a little time to reflect before I posted about Nationals. Overall, it was a great experience - as it always is - and I look forward to getting back there next year, perhaps with our entire TEAM! That is the ultimate goal!

Indoor track officially begins for me on January 11th. Finals, Christmas, family vacation to Florida, and then track. The next 6 weeks are going to be very busy, but after finals, it's all FUN, so again, just need to focus in on my studies these next couple of weeks and it's smooth sailing from there! :)

In honor of Thanksgiving, I want to give thanks for some special people that have continued to help make my college running experience the most fun I've had in my entire life. Thanks to all my teammates who supported me so much throughout the entire season -- even had a couple make the 9 hour drive all the way to Cleveland to watch me!! We had 6 seniors this year, and I can't even put in to words how much they'll be missed. Kim, John, Aaron, Benji, Jon, and Mack: you guys are amazing. Thanks so much for your leadership, hardwork, and dedication. You have helped build up this program so much - you are all incredibly talented runners, but most importantly, you are wonderful people. Thanks for your friendship, and for the millions of memories we've made over the years. I love you guys!!

Another thanks to my family- my parents and 2 brothers who are always my biggest fans. They always have encouraging words for me and keep me thinking positively. I know I couldn't have made it through this roller coaster of a season without them! And finally, I also want to give a big thanks to my Coach who puts up with me no matter how high maintenance I may be. He always has my best interest in mind and obviously it can be seen he helped me peak at the right time.

It's been an amazing ride from basketball player to six-time All-American. Never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted myself to be where I am now. No dream could be quite this wonderful! :) I am SO blessed.

Still have 1 more full track & cross country season, though, so buckle up because the ride's not over yet! :)

I'll post with an update on training sometime near Christmas!
Don't forget to check out pictures from Nationals here :

Till next time... happy running! Let's hope the snow/ice can continue to hold off for at least a few more weeks! :)


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Off to Cleveland! :)

Well, it's official: I'm off to Cleveland for the NCAA DIII NATIONAL XC Meet tomorrow morning! The race isn't till Saturday the 21st, but I get to leave a few days early to run the course ahead of time and get mentally prepared :)

Regionals was my absolute best race of the season (thus far), and it was so nice to be able to smile after my race. Previously, that hadn't happened much this season. Basically I realized I had been too hard on myself, trying to compare this season to last season, and just overall getting myself stressed and worried a lot more than I should have been. I went in to Regionals incredibly relaxed and focusing on the reasons why I love to run, and this mental outlook on the race obviously helped a lot as I PR'd for the season (21:31, good for 3rd place) and beat out a rival who had trounced me by over a minute at Conference just 2 weeks prior. It felt great.

So, now it's off to Cleveland, Ohio. I'm in the midst of packing and it's overwhelming me as usual. So many layers to pack, and when we went to Ohio for track, I nearly went over the 50 lb. weight limit, so I have to be careful with that as well! The airlines charge a ridiculous fee for going over 50 lbs, so I really am going to have to try my hardest to pack lightweight. Anyone who really knows me knows it's going to be very difficult! I'm still really glad to be flying vs. driving, though! Saves the legs SO much!

Any of you runners out there or anyone involved in competitive sports, I highly recommend reading "Mind Gym," by Gary Mack. It's another reason I was able to turn around my season and get my "mental edge" back. Mack is a sports psychologist and really helped me see that I need to think more positively and that confidence is the key to succeeding, especially in running where mental preparedness is easily just as important, if not more so (especially for elite athletes), than physical preparation. I also want to thank my parents for their unending support. Through thick and thin, good times and bad, they are always there and always have good advice to keep me headed in the right direction. I honestly have no idea what I'd do without them!

I'll end with a couple of quotes that my Coach has repeatedly sent me throughout the season, reminding me that I had to be patient, that our "plan" was designed for me to peak at the right time (as in, on November 21st!) and that even though it may get frustrating, that I must continue to stick to the plan we set forth. I reaped the benefits of this plan last Saturday, and there's no doubt in my mind I'll be ready to run at my absolute best in Cleveland this Saturday.

"The height of your success is determined by the depth of your belief..."

“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”– Jacob A. Riis

This race is an accumulation of all the hard work I've put in since track season ended last Spring. This is what those 80+ mile weeks during the summer were for! I relish an underdog role, and I can't wait to surprise a lot of people with my performance on Saturday.

Bring it on, Cleveland! :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Preparing for Regionals!

Well, Regionals are just a couple days away. I'm really excited, and a little bit nervous for what's to come.

I feel like I haven't had a GREAT race yet this entire season, but this week I have felt an energy, a rejuvenation of sorts, unlike what I've felt for much of the season, so I am confident Saturday will be one of 2 great races in the next 2 weeks. I'm ready to do what I need to to get back to the National level.

As a team, we'll be looking to improve upon last year's 19th place finish. I really think we should be able to easily be top 15, and that is our goal. All five of our runners - me, Mandy, Brianna, Kim, and Kali - have a realistic shot at being on the All-Region team - that's top 35. It's also a flat course at Winneconne Golf Course in Oshkosh, so PR's are definitely a possibility, almost a guarantee. Kim wants to go under 24:00 in the last race of her career, and this course gives her a great chance to do so. I'm excited to see what we can do! It's been a very solid season so far and we really want to close it out on a good note!

For 5 out of our 7 guys running at the Regional meet, this will most likely be their last cross country race EVER. It's a bit scary to imagine life without them next year, but I guess that can't be our focus right now. Just hope that they, too, can end their XC careers with PR's and that can put an exclamation point on what they have all accomplished as Green Knight athletes.

I think that's all for now. It's time to go finish up some homework. I've got to continue to work hard to improve in the classroom!

Glad to be back writing! :)

Here's an appropriate quote for this weekend's big Regional race:
"Life's battle doesn't always go
to the stronger or faster man (or woman),
but sooner or later,the man (or woman) who wins,
is the man (woman) who thinks he/she can."

Till next time,