A Week in the Life of an FGCU Women's Cross Country Runner
Friday, November 02, 2012 | by Matt Judd
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Junior Gretchen MacMillan (Ocala, Fla./West Port HS) gives an inside look into the week leading up to the UCF Black & Gold Challenge in Orlando, Fla.

Monday, October 8
I wake up suddenly and jump out of bed. The clock reads 8:24 and my stomach sinks, but only to be followed by relief when I realize that there is no practice this morning. No Monday morning practice? I feel like 2012 really may be the end of the world, but I’m definitely not complaining about catching up on sleep. I have no class on Mondays, so I decide to utilize my free time by reading some physiology chapters and finally washing the pile of laundry that has been sitting in my closet for a couple of weeks. Evening practice is at Buckingham today, and the traffic during rush hour can be quite tolling on my patience. I pull into the property as the seconds near closer to six o’clock, and the fear of getting a “see you Sunday” becomes prevalent in my mind. I park and everyone runs toward the picnic tables. We made it. Today is a steady five miles. As the girls and I maintain a tough but comfortable pace, the sky gets darker and the storm rolls in. With a mile and a half left of the run, we had to call it a day. Even though the week didn’t start very well, I look forward to what’s ahead.

Tuesday, October 9
Practice is at Alico this morning and after our dynamic warm up, we’re off for a brief three miles. Contrary to the usual schedule, the speed workout is in the afternoon today. Having a quality session later in the day is always a struggle for me, as that it’s all I tend to think about the entire day, but today I won’t overthink it. I am ready for this workout; there is nothing to worry about. I take a five minute shower and I’m off to creative writing class. After class, I walk to the trainers and start my rehab. While I am doing my kick-outs and wall squats, I realize how much easier this is getting. It’s hard to believe that about a month ago the simple task of walking was painful for my quad. Even though rehab takes anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour to complete, being healthy enough to run is worth it. There is only one quality workout this week because the UCF meet is this Friday. Today, the task at hand is 12x400’s. Personally, four hundreds are my worst nightmare. I don’t know if it is the number twelve in front or the fact that a four hundred is an eighty second sprint. Coach decides to spice things up today and turns it into a relay by grouping the girls into teams of two. Surprisingly, the workout became less of an anxiety ridden run and you could say, more of a team bonding experience. We ran just as hard and perhaps even faster. I wasn’t just running for myself, I was running for my team.

Wednesday, October 10
There is no morning practice, but my class schedule lasts from eleven to six today. A three hour lecture in anatomy isn’t too bad when the professor really has a passion for it. Following a four hour field trip, I can’t be any more excited for practice. I put on my blue spandex and green FGCU shirt and walk towards Alico Arena. A short three miles is a perfect way to end such a busy day.

Thursday, October 11
This morning, we have a comfortable four miles. Afterward, we have some core conditioning, strides and partner stretching. Some people love strides; some people hate strides. For me, I feel it’s a love hate relationship. I do not necessarily enjoy a half of a mile worth of strides after a run, but I know that it benefits me and prepares me for what matters most: race day. I focus on my form and tell myself, “light, quick feet.”

Race Day, Friday, October 12
Today is race day. I wake up at seven and start the two mile run to shake loose. Before we travel to Orlando, I walk to campus for my advising appointment. As my nursing advisor and I plan my class schedule for next semester, I realize how quickly this season has flown by. I put on my newly washed uniform, grab my duffle bag and board the bus. With a little music and some friendly conversation, the four hour drive goes by fairly quickly. As the bus pulls in, the start line becomes visible. It’s days like these that we train for. All the hours, all the sweat and effort, everything is for race day.

All I smell is Icy Hot, freshly cut grass, and stinky spikes...yeah, it’s race day. We wait a little shy of an hour before we start our warm up. No one really talks during the warm up; we understand that we are focused and we are ready for what lies ahead. Before the race, we do dynamics, stretching, tightening of spikes and multiple prerace bathroom trips. We are all running for ourselves, for our team and for our school; as I shake out my legs at the line I know this is true. Our toes are at the line, the gun is raised, and go. I got out to a decent start, fast but not too fast. Kilometer by kilometer, I try to pass as many girls as I can. We usually race five kilometers, but today the race is a six kilometers. Overall, the team did well and we finished fifth, beating the University of Miami. There is only one race left, the one we have been preparing for all season. The Atlantic Sun better be warned, because the Eagles are flying in.