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A Week in the Life of a Cross Country Runner
Monday, September 27, 2010
The day begins in the typical fashion all days spent in the fall semester do; waking up at 5:35 a.m., maybe 5:45 if I’m feeling a bit sluggish. Joe and Dillon are soon to rise as well, and I greet them in the living room of our off campus apartment. Words are few and far in between this early in the morning, as usual. I take my own car to practice because I need to go directly back home and try and make my 8 a.m. class.
As we mull around the OSC complex, making small talk and lightly stretching, I wonder out loud what were going to be doing. “I don’t know if we have a workout or a normal run, but I wore my tempo shoes just in case!” Mondays are usually a mystery, and the team waits in anticipation before coach tells us the news.
“Boys, you’ll be doing an 8 mile progression run this morning.”
Easy enough, I think to myself. “Jon, I want you to run behind Argeo (Cruz) and Dino (Bozzone). Try and be around 5:50 to 6 minute pace”.
After hearing that, I began to wonder how easy the run would really be. We set out and grinded down to the said pace, all the while with Matt Crowe tagging along for the ride. Matt is a hard worker and can easily run with anyone. After six miles, Argeo and I separated from Matt and started to bring the pace down further. Small banter between us was no more than the usual “You feel good?” Of course we felt good.
We finished feeling great, then continued to jog a bit for a cool down. I then booked for class, another good run in the books.
Tuesday September 28, 2010 An easy day comes to us every other day typically, right after a workout cycle. These days serve to flush out the legs, and keep us sharp and maintain our aerobic fitness. Today is a Tuesday, and from the looks of the sheet, my training group (D) will be running 7 miles. Group E will have 9. I run with group D because of an injury I sustained over the summer, which took away almost all of my base training phase. Being out for more than 2 months, it was only the best decision to run less miles to keep the injury from ever coming back. This is no excuse not to work harder; it is every reason to work harder.
The run went just fine, and we finished with 8, 100 meter strides on the soccer field. These are quick sprints to encourage leg turnover.
Wednesday, September 29th 2010
Since the start of my career as an FGCU cross country runner, I have been privileged to witness new and exciting changes take part in our program. From winning our first ever home meet last year, to our first-ever out-of-state trip to the Loyola Invitational in Chicago this weekend. Today is the first time we will be running 2000 meter repeats. Typically we run eight, 1000 meter repeats. Instead, we will be doing four 2000 meter repeats, or just plain 2K’s for short. The goal is to run through the 1K slightly slower than we typically can run one alone.
We begin our dynamic exercises, which consists of a series of butt kicks, high knees, and other routines. These serve to stimulate our legs to prepare them for fast running. After we complete the set with strides, I feel confident that my legs will be able to perform well. The first 2K repeat, Mike (Hensley) takes me through the 1K at 3:10; right on pace. The longer distance feels comfortable, and I take advantage of it to lengthen up my stride and try and relax my posture. The final time for the repeat is 3:15, and the next three turn out in a similar fashion.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Today is another easy run, with group D going a distance of six miles. I feel sore from the workout the day before, but easy runs are meant to flush the legs out and help the legs recover. Days like these are typically spent talking about anything that crosses our minds, and I personally love to start out the morning this way. Six miles later, we end with strides and stretch out the rest of any lingering soreness that followed.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Early morning: I ate at 5 a.m. to drive myself to school and board the Bus that will take me to the Fort Myers International Airport. Our destination: Chicago. A quiet excitement exudes from the team; it is too early to be bouncing off the walls though. We take our first connection to Atlanta, Georgia and wait for an hour before boarding our final connecting flight to Chicago. We arrive at around 11:30 a.m., and take two vans to go preview the course. The weather is pleasant, and the sky is clear. Not a sign of any bad weather to come.
When we start running the course, confusion sets in when we realize the map happens to be very confusing to read. The mens race, or 8000 meters (roughly five miles) will consist of several loops around the park. Problem is, we can’t agree which direction to go. None the less, we finish our run of five miles and pack up for the hotel. It is safe to say that we are starving in anticipation for the race, and for food at this point. The night ends nicely with a good dinner at Outback, and an early turn in at around 9:15 p.m.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
At 7:15 a.m., I wake up feeling refreshed. I get on my training clothes, totally aware that it is around 50 degrees outside, I neglect to wear a jacket or any warm gear. I like the cold, and don’t want to break a sweat until the warm up at the course. The weather today completely contrasts the weather we enjoyed yesterday. The wind is gusting hard, and the cold seeps through the skin. The lake front of Lake Michigan is crashing with waves, and in the distance storm clouds loom. We begin our warm up, and make our last minute preparations afterwards. At the line, I realize the full extent of the cold wind when I remove my warm up clothing. Running into the wind gives me an impression that this race may be a tad slower.
The gun goes off, and 528 runners stampede into the first stretch of the course. Within a minute, a runner goes down in front of me, and I quickly dart to the side of him. Soon another goes down, and two more. This is racing at its most confined and claustrophobic state. My strategy of sticking behind team mate Argeo Cruz is ruined; runners are jostling for position and I soon have lost him amongst the pack. Going through the first mile, I was pleasantly surprised that I was right on pace at 5:10. My goal today is to run 25:50.
The two mile mark reads 10:25, and I feel comfortable. Running again up the singular hill in the middle of the course, we take a left and run back towards the start. This means that we’ll also be turning back around into the nasty head. By now, congealed spit has plastered itself onto the side of my mouth. My arms feel cold and heavy, and the wind crashes into me like the waves on the lakefront. I momentarily lose focus, and slow my pace. I felt at this point getting a personal best was not possible. As soon as I banked left and began running away from the head wind, my spirits were uplifted and I screwed my head back on my shoulders; I had a race to run.
Mile four came, and so did my determination to catch up with my teammate, Argeo. He had passed me around mile two and a half, and I decided to focus on myself. With one mile left, I knew it was now or never. I began to slowly up the pace, and pick runners off one by one. With 500 meters left, I thought of my training, the great bursts of speed I can unleash at the end of any given workout. I tried to close the gap, but finished in 26:16 to Argeo’s 26:06. He had a great performance today, and also gained the school record. I ran a personal best of 24 seconds from my previous 8K two weeks ago. I don’t think I can know the true extent of my potential until I give everything I have, and not feel like I had something left to give like I did today. This is the end of a great week, and a great first experience at our school’s very first out-of-state meet. The training continues; three weeks until conference.