Senior Jonathan Lanning (Sarasota, Fla./Sarasota Military Academy) gives an inside look into the week leading up to the UCF Black & Gold Challenge in Orlando, Fla.
Monday, October 8th
Today we were afforded an opportunity to sleep in. This was awesome, considering balancing the life of a scholar athlete requires so much rest. Instead of 6 a.m., we would meet at 6 p.m. We went to Buckingham property to run a proposed 10 miles, though our run was interrupted from lightning just four miles in. That put a quick end to the day.
Tuesday, October 9th
We met early at Alico Arena at 6 a.m. Some of us sat on the fountain ledge while others shake out their tired limbs before our dynamic warm-up. Every morning is the same. We hear the announcements from head coach Cassandra Goodson and acknowledge the days training schedule. Then we go off, do two laps around the parking lot, and start our warm up. Moments after the warm up we start our run. Most of us are running five miles, but some of the younger runners have three miles. The morning run ends just like any other; with stretching and small talk. Our second practice of the day is a workout, 6x800 meter repeats. It honestly didn’t sound as tough as it was, but we all had to deal with the extra heat and a general feeling of grogginess ran through the team like it was contagious. It wasn’t all bad though. I had a pretty good workout in the scheme of things. It’s all day to day, and some days are harder than others. We have to deal with heat that other teams in our conference have little experience of.
Wednesday, October 10th
Sleep in day, Wednesday, Same thing. We don’t have practice until 6:15 p.m. today, so much needed extra rest in taken in the morning. We met at Alico Arena and ran our respective distances with nothing of great consequence occurring.
Thursday, October 11th
We met at Alico at 6:15 a.m. for a seven mile run. Our routine for seven miles is to run to Estero Parkway and back, so that’s what we did. We stretched and went off on our respective ways, which for me was back to bed.
Race Day, Friday, October 12th
On the bus I caught some sleep. I didn’t try and think too much about the coming race, because I don’t like getting worked up over something I can’t possibly know the outcome to. But I did have a plan. As we toe the line, Argeo Cruz tells me to stay with him and hang on. That was my plan; to tempo the first 3K with him and see what I had left for the last 5K. We ran perfect 3:20’s through the first 3K, with the UNF pack running tightly together. Argeo does what he does best at this point: compete. He sliced through the pack of runners ahead of us, like a shark moving through a school of fish. He was gone. I surged to try and maintain my pace, though I failed to do so. I was hurting, but tried to focus on keeping my head in the race. I finished at less than my best, but honestly thought I was going to run slower than my finishing time. Not every day is glorious. In fact, running takes a person and transforms them into a heap of exhausted matter. It looks far from glorious to see a person who just finished a race, but it’s the feeling of doing something which your body willed you against for five miles which makes you feel elated.
Saturday, October 13th
We ran to Kenya today. Not literally, but rather to the old Alico Quarry property which we have named as such because of its exotic appearance. There are old piles of earth left from the digging at least 50 feet high which resemble mountains. Long gravel trails extend for miles along an old quarry reservoir. It almost feels like you’re not in Florida anymore. I ran with Emery today, at a slower pace than usual to recover from the race soreness.
The focus now is on conference, and maintaining our strength until then. All the team can do is hope to stay healthy, because the hard work is essentially done at this point. On October 27th the chips will fall where they may.