Well, its gettttttin really busy over here at the University. Finals are just around the corner since they start up on Monday. I will have finals Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. So in just over one week I'll be headin back to the suburbs for winter break. Its much needed, and I seriously cannot wait until this semester is over. For future students...try to avoid taking chemistry and physics at the same time, its definitely not fun. So this coming weekend I'll be sitting inside studying and doing a few workouts.
Enough about school....this last weekend I made a quick trip back home to participate in the Cross Country Challenge in Gilberts, IL. The race is a european styled cross country course that includes very steep hills, knee deep water, trees to climb over, mounds of mud and manure, and lots of bushes to run through which cut up your legs if you're not wearing long pants. I have done this race two times in the past and never really placed well so I was looking to come home with the win this time. Training is going well, and I felt that I was in shape to actually win overall. My problem usually is that I'm not a very good cross country runner. I am good on flat roads and pavement, but when grass, water, and hills are involved....my body refuses to go fast.
Well this was not the case this time. As my best friend John Atch and I were lounging around in the registration barn, the head race director announced 15 minutes until the start of the race. The start line is about 1 mile away, so we decided to start jogging over for a warm up. 90% of the runners were already waiting over at the start line, but we figured we had time to get over there...I mean 15 minutes to do a mile? Well, needless to say, as we neared the start line, the gun went off!! I could see all the runners taking off way ahead of me. I went into panic mode and took off in a mad dash to catch up. It took me about 40 seconds just to get to the start line! So basically everyone had a 40 second head start. My heart rate was through the roof as I was dodging in and out of the 800 runners trying to make my way to the front. The thing with this race is that if you want to place high up, you have to be up front. There are many single tracks were pacing the runner in front of you is very hard to do. I swear my first mile was 4:40 or so and this included very steep hillls, uneven ground, and swampy water ground which my foot sunk into the ground shin deep. By around 2 miles I actually caught the two leaders (one of which was my sophomore year college roommate Kacey Carr!!) He transferred after that year to Olivet Nazerene and currently runs cross country and track there. He's a 2:27 marathoner so he is pretty decent I would say.
So when I caught the leaders...I was breathin pretty hard and was out of gas. I managed to hold my own and stay with them until the final 1/4 mile where I just had nothing. Sprinting the first mile took a lot out of me so I ended up in third place overall out of the 800 runners. It was a pretty good day, but there was still a feeling a disappointment that I was unable to come away with the win. If I had made it to the start line on time it may have been a different story, but I cannot use that as an excuse. I had the chance to run away with the win but I was conservative when running with the leaders. I could have been a little more aggressive, but now I know. Every race is a learning opportunity.
On the plus side, from my 3rd place, I won a free pair of any Brooks shoe that I want. I just have to make a quick stop over to the shoe store and pick them out. But now since that race is over...I am not really sure what will be next for racing. I have planned the Desert Classic Duathlon in Arizona at the end of February, but I am not sure if I will do any races before that. I may do a few small road races to keep my speed up, but we'll see.
Training is going well and I think this coming season will be my best yet. I'm really healthy, feeling strong, and have a lot of motivation. I am actually swimming actual workouts and doing 4000+ yards when goin to the pool! I used to only do about 1500 yards, and now I can do that for a warmup. My speed is still slow in the pool, but I can go a lot longer. Once my endurance is up, I will focus on some speed. Does anybody know of a swimmer that would be willing to help me out? I really need some help in the water to look at my form. I do not want to keep swimming if I am doing many things incorrectly. So if anyone out there that reads this is willing to spend a day or few days during the next month or on any weekend to help me out...I'd be extremely grateful.
Alright, well I have to get to bed to be ready for a good day of training and studying tomorrow. Keep checkin' back as I'm sure to update on training and/or any other stories!