September 3, 2012

It isn't always going to be unicorns and cotton candy!

Sometimes I say things and I have no idea where I got them or where they came from. For example, all summer, my XC team just did base building. We did all easy runs with the intent to safely build their mileage base and fitness. When we had passed the "open date" for XC, I began incorporating speed work into practices. I have mostly brand new runners, and a big thing I'm working on is getting them to push through discomfort. Poor kids, though, running grassy intervals at 4:00 p.m. in August, in the Gulf Coast. So hot, so very hot! At the end of a particularly grueling workout, one of my feisty little worker bee girls exclaimed, "That sucked!" Out of nowhere, I said, "Well, it can't all be unicorns and cotton candy."

I got that saying handed back to me this week, regarding my running. Without a doubt, this was the worst week of my whole training cycle. Monday I basically ran a ridiculous amount of miles b/c the storm was coming and I knew an off day might be inevitable. I had talked to people that said they were NOT going to board up windows unless it became higher than a Cat 2. So, I'm running Monday and see SOOO many houses boarding up. Some even had these neat little metal covers that I want to look into buying. I ran past the lumber store and saw that plywood was being sold for $3 a sheet. Hmmm.... So, I go home and decide to cut the grass. (Time out for a minute to admit that I am dealing with some OCD issues regarding lawn care and house cleanliness.) Then I decide to board up, you know, because everyone else is doing it. I get home with the plywood and realize that it is impossible to nail it up into the brick. I decided to abort the whole project and just throw the plywood into the shed for the next big storm. We were off school Monday-Wednesday. One would think that I would enjoy this time off and get lots of rest. Well, not so much. While the weather was not as bad as expected, we had such a high risk of spin-off tornadoes that I stayed glued to the t.v. Internet every second. Then at night, every wind gust would wake me up and I would stagger to the t.v to check what was happening. Luckily, the worst I got was a new pond in the backyard and lots of limbs to clean up. And... the stupid, blasted, machine... the TREADMILL. Wednesday through Friday I was confined to the treadmill. I've done a lot of ridiculous things regarding my running, and my boyfriend made me PROMISE that I would not run during the storm. So... sigh... stupid machine. I had an 800 workout that I attempted on Wednesday. My typical pace is about 5:52ish, 10.2 on the TM. I just couldn't hit it. Not at all. I did all 8 repeats, but by the time the workout ended, I had slowed it down to 9.6. It was pure ridiculousness. My body just wouldn't go. Friday was okay; I had my typical tempo workout- 2 warm up, 4 at tempo, and 2 cool down. I've been ABOUT 6:18-6:22 averages for my tempos lately, and for the TM, because I hate it, I kind of just played with the speed, going from 6:27 to 6:18 up and down until the 4 miles were over.

This weekend was our FIRST cross country meet. Oh, how I love these teens! Out of my whole squad, only 3 are return runners. Yep, all newbies. :) The course was VERY muddy and wet, thanks to the storm. The kids persevered, though! I even had a kid that ran a PR. (He had run 5Ks on the road before.) Crazy, I know. This was a kind of a relaxed meet and not very crowded. This allowed me to jog a LOT of the course and really be there to support the athletes. I was able to see them right before the SUPER muddy part (immediately before the 1 mile marker) and at 2.75, before the final push. All the athletes are very special to me, but some have faced more adversity than others. One young man (a senior) has lost nearly a hundred pounds. Once the weight came off, he wanted to do a school sport. He played golf this past spring and took up running on his own. Compared to most of my guys, he is not very fast, but he has a heart of gold and will NOT give up. Saturday, he committed the sin of all races- started out WAY too fast. I waited and waited and waited at 2.75 for him, to the point of getting scared. My fastest kid was with me and said, "Coach, I think he may have started too fast." I asked why and the kid said that he had been with him at Mile 1. Oh my word.

I finally saw him, and he was walking. (I had already made this assumption.) He was shaking his head and kept saying he was sorry. I stayed off the course, but started jogging and made the motion for him to jog with me. He just kept saying he thought he couldn't do it, talking about dropping out, etc. etc. I told him to just keep following me, but to stay on the course and I would stay off the course. We jogged slowly and i really thought he was about to cry. I told him I was NOT allowing him to drop out. He had to keep moving. All of a sudden, I guess he saw the finish line b/c he took off towards it. Afterwards, all he could say was, "That was crazy." In summary, the kids were kind of amazed with themselves afterwards. They kept talking about how they couldn't believe that they actually ran that. While we didn't even come close to winning, I'm very proud of them. It's hard work to become a racer. They persevered.

Being that I stayed up until 1:00 on Friday night making treat bags for the kids, I did NOT get up to run Saturday before the meet. (I was pretty impressed with myself. I wrote a quote from a famous runner on each athlete's bag and filled them with PB sandwiches, Starburst, and a banana.) Somehow in my 4:00 a.m. fog, I decided it "wouldn't be that bad" to run outside in the Gulf Coast weather at about 2 p.m. Dumb. Dumb. It was 93 when I ran my 10 miler. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Then we went to TP's brother's house to watch stupid football, and I slept off and on in between playing with his nephew. Luckily his family is used to my narcolepsy behavior. haha) Sunday morning, I had 20 planned. For the first time in forever, I bailed on it. At mile 11, I told Sam there was no way. I was near tears, so so exhausted, hot, dehydrated. I basically felt like death. Bless her heart; she's such a great training partner. She wouldn't let me run back alone; I think I worried her. In the process of slogging back, I had a little break down, basically crying for no logical reason, rambling about never being able to hit Sub 3. Blah, blah, blah. In summary she said, "We need to work on your sleep." That's pretty much what coach said when I talked to him later in the morning. He even gave me a free pass to skip the long run this week in hopes that I rest up. Well... anyone that knows me, knows that I don't go down without a fight. So, i did my 20 this morning. I didn't time it, ran a route that I already knew was 20, and just took it easy. It's just been SOOOO humid! It was 80 at 5:00 a.m. with 99% humidity. Yeah, terrible.

That's me this week... gotta take the good with the bad and keep on trucking!

Run Happy, friends!


  1. Well, congrats to your team and YOU for perseverance. That saying is funny, but very true. And it only came out of your mouth because it IS true and you have been at this game long enough to really KNOW it. So you were taking an opportunity to pass on some good wisdom.

    Those are some TOUGH workout paces! I am in awe when I realize that it takes that type of work to hit sub 3. Hitting them on any type of treadmill or road would be my best day ever. hah! Proud of you for running without the watch :)

  2. Love the analogy! Sounds like these kids have a lot of heart and regardless of where they place, leave a coach happy!

    I'm in Sam's camp. I think a "sleep marathon" may be a fun idea of a workout;)

  3. I don't have any wise words, but sleep is always good... I might try it some time!

  4. What a great post! It's good for all of us to remember that not ever race and certainly not every run is going to be great. I think the hard ones make the awesome ones feel that much better. I am sorry about your tough week of training but I have no doubt you will be back to tearing it up in no time. And yuck about the treadmill. My kids went back to school today so my running time just got EARLIER and soon there will be snow and ice and I will be doing 85-95 mile weeks on the dang treadmill. Bleck.

    I LOVE reading your coaching stories. You are an amazing coach and such a great inspiration and leader for these kids.

    Keep kicking butt in all you do!! When is your next marathon? Hugs!

  5. Hot, humid, conditions, a major storm, treadmills, and a Cross Country meet! Sounds like quite a week. I love your new phrase! Unicorns and Cotton Candy!!!

  6. Haha, my dad used to always say "Suck it up Buttercup!" That's what I think when running sucks.

    Sorry about the bad long run. Those happen to everyone. I have totally cried on the side of the road before deciding to quit and go home. But it sounds like you recovered and got revenge on that 20 miler! Good for you!

    How long until your next race?

    Btw, I loved the story about your senior runner. What a great kid. And I'm sure he will start slower next time!

  7. Unicorns and cotton candy! I'm going to have to remember that!

    ...and now I want cotton candy.

  8. Sounds like you need more sleep. If I find myself crying for no particular reason I know I need an early night! Sleep is one of my most favorite things in the world, I was in bed at 8 last night and only read for around 20 mins before I was out for the count! Get some sleep, everything else will follow!