Sunday, October 31, 2010

Makin History!

I made a bold guarantee in a blog post earlier this season... and I'm proud to be able to say we were able to fulfill that guarantee, as yesterday, for the first time since 2003, the Green Knight Women's Cross Country team became the MIDWEST CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS!!! It was a very special day... one that I will most definitely remember for the rest of my life :)

To be a part of a TEAM championship is something I have dreamed about since the moment I started running here at St. Norbert. Winning the team title yesterday meant so much more to me than anything I'll ever do individually. To watch this program build up and grow to where it is now is simply incredible. We continue to take ourselves to new heights, and I am just so grateful to be a part of it all!

Just about all of us PR'd on a course that was relatively fast but not super flat, so we continue to see just how much progress we've made even within this season! 4 out of our top 7 runners are freshmen, which also shows the poise we have within this team. To be able to step up the way they did at a meet they've never even been a part of before is phenomenal. I can't say enough about all my teammates' work ethics... we are one extremely hard workin bunch of ladies! :) And what's perhaps the best part about distance running? HARD WORK PAYS OFF! In the form of a Conference Championship - the year 2010 forever etched on our Schuldes Sports Center wall, the memories forever etched in our minds :)

My Coach was finally recognized as Coach of the Year, which to me, is a long time coming. He's been here 4 years now and has obviously taken this program to new heights. We're definitely not done climbing yet, either! I hope we crack the National Top 35 poll this next week as a result of our great showing within our Conference, something that has never happened in the history of SNC Cross Country. And although our Midwest Region is probably the toughest region in all of DIII Cross Country, we'll have a shot at making it to Nationals as a team, and that's something that hasn't even ever been talked about for us. That's the kind of changes that have been going on around here -- and again, I am just so very grateful to be able to be a part of it all. And even when I'm gone (wish it wasn't so very soon!), I have so much faith that this program will continue to head up and and up and up. The sky's truly the limit with this program under the reigns of Coach Augustine!

I am so, so proud of each and every one of my teammates... and have never been prouder to be a Green Knight! This season has been absolutely spectacular thus far... everything I've ever dreamed of - and MORE! And in two weeks, I know we'll be ready to put ourselves in a position to make even more SNC CC history at the Regional meet. Can't think of anything better than having my Green Knight family in a box of our own in Waverly, Iowa on November 20th. :)

I loved our fans, I loved our performances, I loved everything about the day. Forever an awesome, awesome memory. I can't wait to make even MORE memories within this final 3 week stretch of what has already been an amazing 2010 cross country season! It was a phenomenal feeling to go out on top of the Midwest Conference (being it was my LAST Conference meet ever!)... and now it's time to focus on an even greater goal. My 4+ year journey as a KnightRunner is nearing its completion... but don't worry, I'm saving the best for last.


"Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."

"A goal is a dream that has an ending. " -- Duke Ellington

"Sure I am this day that we are masters of our fate, that the task which has been set before us is not above our strength; that its pangs and toils are not beyond our endurance. As long as we have faith in our own cause and an unconquerable will to win,
victory will not be denied us.” -Winston Churchill


Click HERE to watch an interview from yesterday's meet with my coach, and then with me on winning the Championship! Especially love the beginning of my Coach's interview ;)

Please visit my Dad's SmugMug website to view more pictures from the Championship meet! I tried to upload several more to my blog but I think the pictures are too big in size as it wasn't quite working right!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

That Fine Line

A couple of weeks ago, I started feeling some tightness near the back of my knee. It was an odd pain, and it worried me a lot! So I went in to see the trainer, and he diagnosed it as basically a muscle strain. Lucky for me, by icing and backing off a bit on my straight running mileage - getting in to the pool one day, biking a bit more than usual - the pain has pretty much gone away.

The aches and pains of training, though, got me thinking about the fine line I myself and most other runners (especially those w/ high mileage!) train/live/walk(run) on. Knowing how much is too much is something that has taken me so long to come to grips with. Finally, nearing the end of my collegiate career, I have *mostly* come to grasp the concept of being SMART about training and about life as a runner. At the beginning of my running career, overtraining was practically my middle name. I was seeing gains, so I just kept doing more and more and more. Finally, over time, I have learned that if you cross over that line, that is, if you start overtraining, it's going to come back and bite ya in the butt.

I'm not writing this entry today to dwell on my past. Plenty of things I did as a runner in the past couple of years were stupid, but is there anything I can do about that now? No. Live and learn and move on, and that's what I'm doing this season. I finally requested the help of our strength and conditioning coach to make sure I'm not doing too much in the weight room. I finally heeded my coach's suggestion to listen to my body. (I am SO thankful everyday for how patient he's been with me!) I asked my Mom to make me a cookbook of recipes to have on hand so I can continue to improve my nutrition- eat balanced/get enough of the fuel I need to perform at my best! I have stuck to a strict foam rolling regimen and try to get bi-weekly massages to help with recovery. I have learned that once you get to a certain level, it's paying attention to the little things that truly matters to ensure you can keep making gains.

So am I perfect? Have I learned it all as a runner? Psssh, not even CLOSE! But have I matured as a runner, and even as a person, within even the last few months? I certainly like to think so.

When I ran that race at Stanford, ran against Division I competition, ran a huge PR, and even witnessed Lisa Koll make history with that 10K, that fire inside of me, that passion for running, began to burn brighter inside of me than ever before. That passion for running is certainly brighter and more present than it's ever been, and I look forward to continuing to FUEL that passion. (Yes, Steph Perleberg, I'm following your advice! ;) ) I love the challenge running brings every single day. I love all the websites devoted to running and the community of runners on Twitter, on blogs, on Facebook, that can continue to be a part of my life and again, fuel that passion. I love my teammates and the way my final cross country season has gone thus far. (***Sidenote: St. Norbert Women's XC team is ranked in the USTFCCCA Midwest Regional Rankings for the first time EVER, debuting at #8!) I am blessed beyond belief to be able to have so many ways to fuel my passion for running, and as I previously stated, I cannot wait to continue on the path I stumbled upon 3 1/2 short years ago.

I've found myself thinking a lot about my future lately, but again, I am taking the advice of many wise folks and doing my very best to focus on the present, the here and now. As I stated in my last blog post (which sadly was a month ago!), I have a team very capable of winning Conference and going beyond that, to qualify for Nationals. We're making history this season, and that alone is more than enough to put my focus on this team, right here and right now, Fall 2010!

Back to the title of this post, that fine line, I guess I just wanted to express my continual battle with crossing that "fine line" -- that inner voice that tells me, "you need to do more to get ahead!" Even though I have matured in the past few months, it's still a battle I face and probably will continue to face forever more. It's just my nature! (the "if a little is good, a lot is better" mentality is sort of a family-inherited way of thinking :-/ ) BUT, by focusing my attention on things like my internship, on stretching more instead of doing more cardio, and on spending time with roommates and teammates instead of more time in the weight room, I have become smarter and believe that I can continue to stay on the right side of that "fine line." I know this feeling, this passion I have for running right now is a feeling I don't ever want to go away, and I believe a big part of this special feeling is because I have matured/gotten smarter as a runner and as a person.

Sorry if parts of this post have gotten redundant; I guess I just want to make it a point that I'm proud of how I've matured, especially in the past few months, and how it's been a long journey since I first began running but that I cannot wait to see where this journey continues to take me.

Till next time... Happy Running -- don't forget to heed @stephmperl 's (yes, please follow her on Twitter, she's amazing!) advice to FUEL THE PASSION ... and please, stay on the correct side of that "fine line". Listen to your body - it'll get you much farther in running, and in life!

Stay positive, my friends! Here's some quotes to go along with my post today :)

"Don't frown. You never know who may be falling in love with your smile!" :]

"Good things come slow - especially in distance running."
- Bill Dellinger, Oregon coach

"If someone says, 'Hey, I ran 100 miles this week. How far did you run?' ignore him! What the hell difference does it make?.... The magic is in the man, not the 100 miles." - Bill Bowerman

"I run because it's my passion, and not just a sport. Every time I walk out the door, I know why I'm going where I'm going and I'm already focused on that special place where I find my peace and solitude. Running, to me, is more than just a physical's a consistent reward for victory!" -Sasha Azevedo

"You must listen to your body. Run through annoyance but not through pain." - Dr. George Sheehan

~Jenny... a.k.a. KnightRunner :)

Race Update: Private College Championship at our HOME COURSE in Green Bay this weekend!!! Should have a very good shot at sweeping the meet (as in, both men & women should take home the team titles!!!)