Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Track Season Recap

Towards the end of this past March, the track/cross country coach at my college called to see if I would be interested in running with the team. I took almost a week to think it over- I had never ran track before and joining the team would mean sacrificing my spring half marathon for which I was already reigistered. However, I decided to join the team on the basis that I have the rest of my life to run half marathons but only a few years to run as a collegiate athlete. I started in the off week between the indoor and outdoor track seasons, and was incredibly nervous about meeting the other girls and joining halfway through the season.
Warming up with my team

All my anxiety was for nothing though, as all the girls were so nice and supportive of me, even
though they just met me. We did mile repeats at my first practice with the team and I didn't have any trouble keeping up with the other girls. As a commuter student, I am only required to be at Monday and Wednesday practices and my coach sends me a workout for the other days, usually an easy run for a set amount of time. I ran my 30 minutes on Tuesday and returned to the track for 10 x 500m repeats on Wednesday. Our first outdoor meet (and my first meet ever!) was that weekend, where I was set to run in the women's 5k race.

First meet!
I woke up that day with a stomach full of butterflies and a mind full of uneasiness. I had no idea what to expect at the meet, much less in my specific race. The 5k race was the last event of the day and although the bus left at 9:15am, I didn't run until after 5pm. It was a long day; I was nervous, cold, anxious, tired, hungry, and homesick. The race was less than ideal. I got lapped by the lead runners and finished dead last with a time of 22:39, not even a PR for me. I was embarassed leaving the meet and got home around 8pm starving, exhausted, and disheartened.
5k done, cheering on my teammates

Things did not improve the next week. We ran 20 x 200m repeats on Monday, and my long-distance legs did not like that sprint distance. My calves hurt so bad that even walking was painful the next few days. On Wednesday, my coach stopped me halfway through the workout and told me to hydrate, ice, and stretch to help ease the soreness. Every single run that week was painful and I feared my race would be awful that weekend. It wasn't. The 5k race was the first event (thank goodness!) so I was able to get my run overwith before changing out of my uniform and enjoying the rest of the meet. I ran a PR by 2 seconds, 21:47 and even beat a few girls.

This meet was a game changer for me. I realized that I was capable of more than I thought and that the hard work I was putting in during practices was finally starting to pay off. I tried some new events, like the 1500m and the 3k, and continued to make progress in the 5k, setting a new PR each time that I ran it this season.
Crossing the finish line at our last meet

Our season ended this past Saturday at our conference meet. I ran the 5k with a 13 second (!!) PR of 21:26. I had a good race and passed a girl in the final 50m, where I really pushed myself to finish strong.

Reflecting on the season, I am glad I chose to join the track team. It is a whole new experience for me and even though it started off rough, I really enjoyed being a part of the team. I am currently taking an entire week of recovery (no running at all, as per my coach's instructions) before I begin building my base for cross country season in the fall.

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