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A Week in the Life of an FGCU Women's Cross Country Runner
Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | by Gretchen MacMillan

Sophomore Gretchen MacMillan (Ocala, Fla./West Port HS) gives an inside look into the week leading up to the Commodore Classic in Nashville, Tenn.

Monday, September 12, 2011
After a brief night’s sleep, my alarm wakes me up at 515. Usually I wake up a bit later, but to be on the safer side I decide more time is better than having a “see you Sunday” punishment for being late to practice. Practice is at Estero Community Park, a short drive from campus, and the daily mileage for B group is five. I thoroughly enjoy five mile runs; it’s not like feeling regretful for having dirtied clean clothes without getting a good workout in, as done in three milers and it’s nowhere near comparable to a hardcore quality workout that leaves you gasping for air. Five miles is a perfect morning run to start my day, and my week. After the run, the rest of the girls have strides and water pumps, but I hold back to give my hip a break. Any runner can tell you that her worst enemy is the potential of injury. The rest of my day includes organic chemistry lecture and physics. Oh, the joys of college classes.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Tuesday mornings: infamous for the week’s toughest workout. Today is 3x1 mile repeats. During the two mile warm-up, I contemplate strategies for practice. How do I want to practice? How do I want to run? How do I want to race? As soon as dynamic stretching concludes and coach says “go” for the first mile, my mind is focused at the task at hand. With the first two mile repeats out of the way, the third one is a test of heart; always finish the race so that you have nothing to regret. Finishing up with a 400 and a cool down, I feel a culmination of hope and unrest of whether I would be able to travel to Tennessee this upcoming weekend.

Therapy has become as habitual as brushing my teeth. I walk into the training room knowing what I have to do. What once seemed like a rigorous routine on the Therabands is gradually becoming easier. I ice, undergo twenty lingering minutes of stem treatment, and leave with a feeling of confidence about my recovery.

After a tiring day of homework and an evening calculus class, afternoon practice comes as a break from the demanding nature of bookwork.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Practice is at the OSC this morning and we commence our morning with a nice five miles. Coach never lets us leave her site without having our bright green blinkers securely attached to our shorts. When we get back, we are already prepared for water pumps, hips, toes and shins, and twenty minute abs. It does take a good amount of time for these exercises, but it only ends up benefited each individual runner and ultimately, the team as a whole.

Thursday, September 15, 2011
Our second workout of the week is this morning: 10x400 meters at a medium hard pace. Coach gives us all times to hit and we’re off. The workout flies by and before we know it, the last 400 is upon us. We all give it our best effort and finish the run knowing we are ready for our race on Saturday. When we arrive back on campus, we go to the pool and do our weekly pool workout; flutter kicks, exaggerated kicks, and aqua jogging.

Instead of running the three miles this afternoon, I follow orders and cross train on the stationary bike for thirty minutes. Even though I am anxious to run, I know that cross training will help me more than straining my hip.

Friday, September 16, 2011
Today is traveling day. Normally I have class on Friday mornings, but I emailed my professor yesterday morning to inform her of my absence. Waking up at 430 in the morning is grueling, but worth it. After two extended flights to Nashville, we finally arrive. We drive to the race location and jog the course (or at least what we thought was the course). Fortunately, a bystander overheard our coach talking and told her that the collegiate meet was up the road. After some joking and laughing, we finally found the real course and took a look around. I smelled the air, looked at the dirt, and pictured the race.

Saturday, September 17, 2011
Race day. Those two words are the most terrifying and the most exhilarating for me as a runner. I wake up to the alarms of three phones and get ready for our shake loose. With my bag packed, my uniform on, and teammates by my side, I’m ready to go. We arrive at the Commodore Classic and wait. I put my earphones in and struggle to eliminate my anxiety. The warm up is very serious, little to no conversation; we are all in our own zones by now. Prerace routines, stretches, quick runs to the port-a- potty, and strides are all done. Feet behind the start line, the flag goes up, and … go. This is what I practice for; this is it. The beginning was slightly faster than I normally go out, but I still felt good about the decision. Stopping and going on the narrow bridge, climbing hills that Floridians only dream of seeing, trying to avoid elbows from opponents, and experiencing real cross country. The team did well by finishing ninth out of 22 teams and competing against some top schools.

After the race, we had the opportunity to explore Nashville and visit the Country Music Hall of Fame. Even though I am not the most enthusiastic country music fan, I appreciated the trip and wouldn’t trade it for anything. Regardless of how smelly someone’s feet are, how unrestrained certain comments may be, or how different every member of the team actually is, we all collectively bring something to the FGCU cross country team. We are more than a group of people; we are more than just a team. We are a family and this is our life together.