It seems as if I've been back running and working out for so long already, but I just realized today when I looked at a calendar that the workout I did this morning began my 5th week of workouts since my running break, and only my 7th week back overall!
This realization is primarily exciting and encouraging to me, because workouts have been going really well already. Straight out of the gates, I have been running faster in the longer repeats we do at this time of year, and I'm feeling better physically than I usually do as I transition back into heavy training. As more of the 'sprinter' by Team USA Minnesota's standards, simply sticking out long workouts with my teammates (instead of getting dropped) is a joy I still can't get enough of.
The other emotion that comes to the surface as I look at this calendar: sheer terror. Well, maybe not that bad, but a certain sense of apprehension to say the least. Reason being, I am doing something this year that I haven't done as a runner since 2009...I am racing cross country!!
That's right, this 800m/Miler is returning to the grass (something I honestly never thought I'd want to/have the opportunity to do again), to compete at the 2012 Club Cross Country National Championships, in Lexington, KY on December 8th. My teammates (Meghan Peyton, Jamie Cheever, Ladia Alberson-Junkans, and McKenzie Melander) informed me awhile back that they wanted to send 5 women to make an actual scoring team, it sounded like fun to me at the time, so I said, "Sign me up!"
Now that we are just under 3 weeks away from the actual event, reality is starting to set in about what it means to run fast for 3.75 miles of uneven, hilly terrain...it's painful, my friends. The good news I have to rely on is that despite my brief preparation period, I am feeling good about my general base/long distance fitness right now, and it will make me a stronger person as I head into the 2013 track season!
Even better news is I get to run this XC race with some of my favorite people, and remember what it feels like to be running hard because my teammates are counting on me. I always felt like I could perform even outside my actual ability when I knew I was running for the team in college, it is an exhilarating experience, so I welcome that feeling of commitment and love back into my heart to help carry my through it!
Now generally speaking, before you walk onto a big stage to race something important, it's nice to get in at least one "rust-buster" race. For me, that is going to be taking place this Thursday (Thanksgiving!) downtown Minneapolis at the Lifetime Fitness Turkey Day 5K! If you've never done it before, this is an awesome event. THOUSANDS of people will line up, some in full turkey costumes, pilgrim hats, heck, even Spider Man showed up once, to race/run/walk a 5K before we make our way to feast with family and be thankful.
Two years ago, I remember it snowed and was VERY cold on Thanksgiving morning for this race (So cold, that I had icicles frozen to my eyelashes at the end of the race!), I think this year is going to be a very different (better) story!! I'm hoping to enjoy the fun atmosphere, but also take this opportunity to run with some fast people and remember what it feels like to make a longer 5K race "hurt so good", if you know what I mean, in prep for Club Cross.
I'm sure there are probably some people out there that might want to call me crazy for running cross country when my best chance at making any type of world team exists in the shorter distance events, but sometimes I think getting outside of my comfort zone is exactly what I need to remind myself that I am a versatile athlete that will benefit both mentally and physically from this challenge ahead. Hopefully I will have good news to share after the race this week, but either way I have plenty to be thankful for.
Have a safe, yummy, and happy Thanksgiving!! :)