Life of a College Runner: Good Days

Hello dear readers! This is going to be an exciting week! I’ve got the Watermelon Days 5k on Friday and a full week of training to get through until then. I hope you enjoy this entry!

Monday

5 miles, 39:22 (7:52/mile)

I ran around town by myself today because my mom didn’t feel good. It was a little toasty out, but there was a strong breeze that helped. I actually had a good run. Since the town loop around Keystone is only 2 miles, I have to get creative with my add-ons, so I went out on the highway for a mile or so and then on some gravel roads.

Tuesday

5 miles, 39:08 (7:49/mile)

The whole family went up to Garrison to run tonight, which was fun. I was going to take it easy, but I ran into a horde of bikers on the trail before the turn around, and most of them were going slow enough for me to catch them in the next mile. I sped up to pass them because if I hadn’t, I’d just be following a few meters behind them the whole way back. I did leg circuit afterwards.

Wednesday

Morning: 2 miles, 17:40 (8:39/mile)

I felt so slow. I didn’t sleep well last night and then didn’t want to wake up. Alas, I got up and went anyway.

Night: 6 miles, 52:07 (8:41/mile)

This was week 3 of “Running Destination Wednesday”, as my mom calls it. Tonight we went to Roger’s Park in Vinton hoping to run on some of the trails there. I used to run cross country meets at that park every year, so I was looking forward to being back. There was this infamous hill that we always dreaded running up, and I wanted to see if it was as hard as I remembered it being.

We assumed there would be plenty of trail to run on, since they host an ultra-marathon at the park. The good news is we started on the big hill. It was pretty tough, but not as bad as I remembered. The bad news is we were through the trail in less than half a mile. We tried running around the park, but found no other trails. We even tried running on this new section of gravel trail, but it led to a playground and then ended. So we gave up and got in the car to go to Garrison and run the remaining 3 miles. We were in the car and pulling out of the park when my mom saw it. I heard her gasp and say with a crazy look in her eye, “OOOOH!!! We should do that!” I looked over to where she was pointing and saw a long, steep, gravel hill. At first I protested because my legs already didn’t feel great, but she sounded so excited and she assured me it would be fun.

This was our hill. It looks a lot less impressive in picture, but there’s a car there for size. It was actually really beautiful.

So we got out of the car and ran. There were some horses in a nearby field that got excited as we ran by and tried to run alongside us, and some happy cows further up the hill. To be honest, it wasn’t as bad as it looked. I was expecting a fate like roller coaster or Abbe Hills, but this was alright. It did hurt a lot, but on the other side was a nice winding road that we followed all the way down to the 1.5 mile mark or so. The way back was not so great at first because it was another steep uphill, but the long downhill at the end was great. It was a really fun night. I’m really glad we got out of the car and ran here.

If you try to pick out one or two good things about a run, you can feel better about your training. I know I’m beating myself up about my lax mileage this summer, but I know for a fact that if you have just one good day, it can change your attitude for the better. My friend Maya calls it a “Morgan run” whenever she has those days where you feel so great, like you could keep going forever, and while that is super flattering, not every run is great for me. This one started out awful and got much better along the way. It wasn’t fast but it was memorable. And I think it’s important to stop and have those times. They go right along with the fast times in making your running life complete.

Thursday

Morning: 2 miles, 17:36 (8:40/mile)

Whooooo my legs were roasty toasty this morning. After another restless night, I slugged through two miles but couldn’t make myself do more. It was also pretty hot for the morning.

Afternoon: 3.5 miles, 29:30 (8:21/mile)

I was still hurting this afternoon. It was really hot, and I was dehydrated. Just not a good day. I sort of wanted to save myself for the race tomorrow.

Friday

Morning: 2 miles, 16:47 (8:19/mile)

I felt a lot better this morning. It helped that it was only 60 degrees. My legs don’t feel nearly as bad anymore.

Night: 5 miles

Tonight was the Watermelon Days 5k!! I had been looking forward to this for a while because it’s a fun race and it’s an opportunity for me to see and talk to some of my old teammates. This year was strange, though. In years past, this race was where the whole team showed up and ran, as a part of our summer runs together. Now I know barely anyone on the team, and for a while I thought I was the only Benton Cross Country “alumnus” there. Then a few of my old teammates showed up, like Eli Miller and Patrick Gorkow, and it felt more normal.

I was a little nervous before the race started because it had been a while since I’d gone race pace, but after a quick warm-up my fears dissipated. When Marty Thomae, my old coach, shot the gun to announce the start, I went deaf in one ear. It was ringing for a little over a quarter of a mile, which I thought was kind of funny. As always happens, everyone took off sprinting at the start, and I tried to hold back but ended up being pulled out in a 6:40 first mile anyway. Eli and Patrick took the lead from the beginning.

For the majority of the race, I felt great. There was a short section where I felt like I was going to throw up, but rather than slow down I decided to speed up and hope for the best, and that seemed to work. This race is on the streets of Atkins for the first and last half mile, and the rest is on the grassy trails there, which are always a little tough to run on. We used to have our home meet on that trail, so I know the course by heart. I kind of coasted into the finish after a high school boy sprinted past me, but I felt good about how I did. It felt amazing to go that fast again, and I finished 30 seconds faster than last year. My time was 22:04, 6:58 per mile for about 3.17 miles. I ended up getting first in my division, which was cool, and 3rd overall female. I know I won overall female last year, but I’m still proud of how I did. I almost missed the awards ceremony because I was on my cool-down, so I showed up a bit out of breath. It was a really great night, though. I got to catch up with old friends and have an awesome race, shaking the rust off my legs a bit. It gave me a little confidence boost for the season and where I am as of right now. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still got a long way to go and a lot of work to do, but I’m doing alright I think.

Saturday

OFF

Sunday

OFF

I’ve been dreading writing about this. I took two days in a row off. I missed a day of training. I thought about not putting this in my blog because I feel guilty about it, but I think it’s more important that it remains in here. This weekend was really really fun, but I just did not have the motivation to get myself out there and run. It’s awful, since I just had a really good race on Friday, but I couldn’t do it.

This is the first time all summer that I’ve skipped a run, and it feels awful. I know some of my teammates have probably felt similar things at some point this summer. Good days of running are the most important to remember on days like this. You can remember past runs and maybe find motivation to get out there, or you can let today go and know that there will be better runs in the future. Today I chose the latter, and I know it was probably not the best choice. I suppose part of the reason I’m writing this blog is to show that running is not a straight hill. There are going to be divots, bumps, and curves along the way. Sometimes it’s going to suck. And I know I am not the perfect runner, or the perfect example of a runner, by far, but I am trying to document my process and maybe learn some things along the way, or help others along the way. The life of a runner is never stationary. We’ve just got to seize those good days when we have them

Thanks for reading.

— Morgan

Teacher, Runner, Reader, and Writer. Destined for great things, I think.