This a Touchy Subject…

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My mom & I at the Culdesac 5k

I’ve been avoiding writing about this for a while, but its time. Two weeks ago, I ran my first race in a very long time. It was absolutely horrible. I made a rookie mistake in assuming that I would run fast. That was just stupid. I had only trained for one week before the race. It was close to ninety degrees. I had spent the past two days walking around the city of Chicago. I was not hydrated nor well rested. This was just not an environment meant for success. And yet, my over-competitive stupid self believed that it was.

I am way too competitive for my own good. I take every race or competition incredibly serious. That was great when I was competing in the high school state meet, but when I’m running in the “Culdesac 5k,” I shouldn’t put so much pressure on myself. But I always do. When I race, I race hard. I race to win, or to run a personal best time. Which is STUPID when you have only been training for a week.

So, like I said before, the race was horrible. I ran my first mile way too fast, and thus began a long, slow, painful death… I felt like I could barely breathe and I was concerned that my legs could have given out at any moment. Once I lost that momentum, I lost all  of my mental stamina. I just completely gave up. It was hot, I was tired, and I wasn’t running fast. A recipe for disaster. 

It was the slowest 5k race I have ever run in my life. I’m embarrassed to even be writing this, but I ran the 5k in 23 minutes, 43 seconds. Oh God I am humiliated. I realize that that is a lot faster than a lot of people can run, and I am thankful for that. But you must realize that my best time for the 5k is 19 minutes, 20 seconds. So what I ran in the Culdesac 5k was WAY slower, and naturally I was very disappointed with it. God, I never ran that slow in high school. Now I know that some of my running friends will see this… That kind of scares me, which is why I held off on writing this for so long. But I realized this: what kind of writer am I if I don’t write honestly? And that’s why I have to share this experience with you all.

After the Culdesac 5k, I was extremely discouraged. I knew that I hadn’t been training much, and it was not ideal racing conditions, but I just felt like there was no way I would ever get back to the level I used to be at. I didn’t run again for the rest of the week. After some encouragement from my loved ones, I did start running again, albeit not very much.

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My mom, brother, and I at the Village of Nags Head 5k

So two days ago, Thursday morning, I ran another 5k. We were down in Nags Head, and they have a series of races right in our neighborhood. Honestly, I wasn’t too excited about it, and I didn’t expect much either. But my mom and brother were running, and I knew it would be a fun event so I got up at 6:00 AM and went out there anyway. Much to my surprise, the race went really well! I ran the 5k in 21 minutes, 43 seconds; exactly two minutes faster than my race at the Culdesac 5k. In only two weeks, I dropped two whole minutes, which is huge progress! I was thrilled after I finished. Not only did I race that much faster, but I also raced a hell of a lot tougher, which is really important to me. I am still over two minutes off of my personal best, but that’s okay. I know there is a long road ahead of me, but I’m ready for that.

I now am extremely happy that I ran the Culdesac 5k. Had the Village of Nags Head 5k been my first race back, I would have been disappointed with 21:43. But now I know how far I have come, and I am more motivated than ever! Heck, if I keep up this dropping two minutes thing, I’ll be running personal bests in no time 😉

I am a sucker for a good quote, and there is one particular one I have kept in mind throughout my injury struggles and recovery process

Every setback is a setup for a comeback. God wants to bring you out better than you were before. -Joel Osteen

Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever be the runner I once was, but that quote keeps me motivated. Even if that day never comes, I’m happy that I’m able to still do what I love. What these past two races have taught me is perspective. I may not be the runner I want to be, but I’m extremely happy with my progress and I have to remember how far I have come.

I know a lot of people who regularly read my blog love reading about my running, so that’s why I wanted to share this. Hopefully one day I will be able to write about some more spectacular success, but this will do for now 🙂 Thank you everyone for all the support and encouragement I have received throughout this never-ending recovery process. The minimal success I have achieved thus far could not have been done without you.

Keep on running, my friends…

xoxo Katie 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday’s a Rugby Day

Describe myself in five words? Easy.

Kind. Hard-working. Dramatic. Passionate. Ambitious. 

This is a story about my ambition.

You may have read my previous post talking about my year at USC. Let me refresh your memory… I was on the cross country team first semester and I really didn’t enjoy that. It put a lot of pressure and stress on me. Come Winter Break, I had decided to quit the cross country team and was considering transferring to JMU. But I before I made that decision, I really wanted to give the second semester a good go. I needed to experience USC without cross country and get involved around campus.

I considered joining all kind of organizations. Singing groups, sororities, interest clubs, even the Quidditch team… I attended the “Organization Fair” to get signed up for some of those groups, when one sign really caught my eye. It read…

USC CLUB RUGBY

Rugby was never a sport I paid attention to. I mean, I knew it existed but I didn’t know a thing about it except that it was supposedly “a mixture between soccer and football.” Well I love football. There aren’t many options for women to play football but here was the next best thing right in front of me! Plus, now that I was no longer running cross country, I needed some sort of competition in my life. And I imagined how totally badass I would seem to my friends back home… So on a total whim, I was signed up for the women’s rugby club.

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Don’t I just scream “Rugby Player”?

Now this may not seem all that crazy or ambitious to you, but you must understand that I am not a big person. This isn’t customary for a woman to do, but I’ll throw it out there that I am 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weigh 115 pounds. That is not big by any means. Rugby is a sport for strong, muscular, athletic women…unlike myself. It is a sport in which you tackle one another while wearing no sort of padding. It is a sport that features the “scrum,” which has been described as the most dangerous play in sports. Its difficult to describe so if you click this link, you can experience it for yourself. I am NOT a person who was made for rugby. I mean, my legs look like they might snap in half with one good tackle. But nonetheless, I was determined to succeed in rugby and was stupid enough to believe I actually could. I have a lot of endurance, which I knew would help me in long games, and I’m pretty quick. I somehow justified this as a formula for rugby success.

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First day of rugby practice. Honestly, don’t I look stupid?

I showed up on the first day of practice as eager as a kindergartner on the first day of school. Well that eagerness died pretty quickly, because I have never felt more out of place, stupid, and childish in my entire life. I was a girl among women. Luckily for me, the girls on the team were incredibly welcoming and helped me ease in to the sport of rugby. Plus there were several other newbies who had never played before, so I wasn’t alone. I was actually encouraged after the first day of practice!!! I succeeded on the running drills, and we just did walkthrough tackling drills. It was nothing I couldn’t handle, which for me felt like a huge win. I skipped back to my dorm with so much joy, because in my heart I believed that a new superstar was born.

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The only picture taken of me in my rugby uniform. So intense.

Well then came full-on tackling. And games. And I very very quickly realized that rugby just wasn’t my thing. I was placed at the position where the smallest girls play: wing. Basically they catch the ball and run. That’s it. I barely played, and when I did play, I barely touched the ball. I was given the nickname “Twig” by my teammates, which is not a bad nickname to have in other aspects of life, but it is when you are playing a sport in which it is important to be big and strong. I did not make a single tackle all season. I SUCKED. And sucking at rugby was a hard pill for me to swallow. I was used to running, where I was on the Varsity Cross Country team for four years straight. I was used to being one of the best athletes at competitions, not one of the worst! Plus, the thing I was most excited for- looking like a badass to all of my friends back home- was also a complete and total fail. They did not find my rugby playing cool, they found it stupid. I found one particular exchange with a friend of mine rather amusing:

Friend: Why on Earth did you decide to play rugby?

Me: I just wanted to try something new.

Friend: Do drugs!!!

He was kidding, of course. But its not unreasonable to think that some of my friends thought that doing drugs was a better idea for me than playing rugby.

I officially retired from rugby on February 25, 2013 after one month in the sport. I did not intend on retiring this early, but I was forced to. Earlier in the night, we were practicing as usual. However, that night we had to do a particularly frightening tackling drill that scared the living hell out of me. We all formed a line (tacklers), and one person would stand a few feet away facing the line (tacklees). The person at the front of the line would then tackle the loner and then stand in their position facing the line. The person who had just been tackled would move to the back of the line. Hopefully that made sense to you, because as I wrote it, it didn’t really make sense to me. Anyway, my turn came and I did a horrible tackle that did not move the tacklee an inch. My turn to tackle finally came, a moment I had been dreading. We were specifically instructed not to juke but to take the tackle head on. I was scared. And rightfully so, because my tackler delivered one hell of a tackle, and I went down hard with my neck and head snapping back onto the ground. I popped up pretty quick, but the tears were already flowing and I felt horrible. Soon after, I was diagnosed with a concussion. And that was that, my rugby career was over.

To be honest, I wasn’t all that upset about it. I wish it had happened in a different way, because the concussion sucked and it got me really behind in my classes, but I was glad to be done with rugby. It just wasn’t for me. That being said, it wasn’t a total fail. Overall, I enjoyed the experience and I think it was really good for me. First of all, it gave me a bit of a gut check. I also learned a lot about a really cool sport, and I really enjoy watching rugby now. I got to watch a lot of that really cool sport because I spent most of my time on the bench. But most importantly, it introduced me to a really awesome group of girls. Let me tell you, we had some really good rugby players on our team. These girls could kick some major ass. But even so, they were so welcoming to me and treated me as an equal part of the team, even though I totally wasn’t. They made practice fun, and never put any pressure on any of us newbies. They never made us feel like a bad player (even if we were), instead they were always trying to help us improve. The girls I met on the rugby team were the only thing that kept me wanting to stay at USC. I probably never see any of them again, but I will always appreciate what they did for me.

So thats my story of ambition. I tried something I knew I would totally suck at, I did totally suck, but I kept on trying until I screwed up my head (sometimes my neck still hurts from the damn whiplash). I wrote this post to be inspiring, but I’m sure most of you all will find it funny. Whatever. I could kill all of yall in rugby. Consider it a challenge 😉

Until next time!!!

xoxo Katie 

Back on Track

Today I ran for 23 minutes. For some people that’s barely a run at all, for others its more than they would ever like to run in their lifetime. For me, it’s somewhere in between. A little over a year ago, twenty three minutes would have been a short, easy recovery run for me. But now, its huge. Its huge just to be out there and doing it. I’ve learned to appreciate individual runs way more. I’m happy to be out there running, no matter how fast or slow it may be.

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Running the 1600m at Godwin

But still… It’s hard. It’s hard because I remember how fast I used to be able to run. 23 minutes used to be a cakewalk, but today I was exhausted. Sigh. At least the plantar fasciitis, sinus infection, and costochondritis have finally cleared up enough for me to run again. I do get discouraged though, thinking about how far I have left to get back to the point I used to be at. There is one bright point in all this. I am now beginning what I expect will be the “glory days” of my running career. I loved high school running, but I was not made for it. I am a long distance runner; the longer, the BETTER! I’m all endurance and no pure speed, which killed me when running the mile. I have always believed that I was destined for a road racing career; 10,000 meters and up. I hope to specialize in the half marathon and marathon. I always planned on beginning my marathon career after I graduated college, but now that I am no longer running track, my “glory days” can begin now!

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After the 2010 Virginia Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon

I have run one half marathon. It was in September 2010, I was 15 years old and I entered on a whim. It was the Virginia Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon, a few friends of mine had run it before and said it was awesome. Well I decided to give it a shot, and it was awesome. Don’t get me wrong, it hurt like hell. But it was also the most fun I had ever had while running a race. That’s when I discovered that my body was made to run half marathons. I loved it so much more than any event I ran in high school. I was so determined to keep running more half marathons and keep improving my time. Welp, shortly after the race I began suffering from a calf strain, and my coach axed any half marathon aspirations until I graduated high school. I’ve had plantar fasciitis since my graduation, so I’ve yet to run another half. BUT that’s all about to change this November! I have committed myself to run the Richmond Half Marathon on November 16th. I am so excited to get back on the roads again, but I’m nervous. I am nervous that my 19 year old self will lose to my 15 year old self. That would really bother me. At 15 I was only a girl and when I turn 19 in September I will be a WOMAN (I guess…) And the woman in me really does not want to lose to the girl. Right now I view 15 year old self as my greatest rival, the only one standing in my way. Oh 15 year old Katie, if only you knew the effect that you would have on your future self. If only you knew how fast and powerful you truly are. If only you knew how much I want to kick your little ass. I must run faster than 1 hour, 35 minutes, and 22 seconds. I must.

But, until November 16th arrives, I think I need to just focus on building up my mileage, because I sure as hell need to be able to run longer than 23 minutes. I’ve got a long way to go if I want to beat 15 year old self. But for now, 23 minutes will do. I’m back on track.

xoxo Katie Lou

P.S. I will add a widget counting down to the half marathon. You can follow the days until the race 🙂

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Frustrated

First, I have to apologize to those of you who actually read my blog. I haven’t written in over a week, I am pretty disappointed in myself. All week, I have been dealing with this sickness/injury/general pain. I work all day, and when I get home I’ve just been too tired to write. I have this condition called costochondritis, which is the inflammation of the chest wall and rib cage. It hurts really bad, the pain mimics that of a heart attack. The pain is worsened by deep breathing, exercise, eating, and just general moving. So it sucks. I mean it really sucks.
Its getting better everyday, and I’m happy I was well enough to leave for vacation, but it’s frustrating. Beyond just the everyday setbacks, it’s frustrating in another way for me as well. I think it’s about time I address my biggest passion, running.
I have been a competitive distance runner for five years now. I ran cross country and track throughout my four years in high school, and it meant everything to me. For those four years, I never took more than a day off. Everyday I went out and ran with all of my heart. For four years, I put all of my emotional being into that one thing. And I loved every second of it 🙂
Looking back, I’m really proud of my career. I definitely didn’t appreciate it at the time, and there are goals that I never accomplished. But as a whole, I really am proud of what I accomplished. My team won a cross country district title, I qualified for the state meet twice, and my PR was one of the top five times in school history.
That being said, there was still a lot I wanted to do outside of high school. Half way through my senior year, I was sidelined with a bad case of plantar fasciitis. For months I was in and out of a boot and crutches. It was sad to not be able to finish off my high school career, but I had my sights set on greater things: running at the University of South Carolina.
Well…. That didn’t really work out. At all. My plantar fasciitis never really got better, and between that and the pressure of being a NCAA athlete, it was just too much. In January I ended up quitting the team and decided to transfer to James Madison University, where I do not plan on competing. Since then, I have attempted to get back into running, on my own terms, but the plantar fasciitis always got in the way. I took a ton of time off just to let it heal, and honestly? Right now, it feels the best it has in two years. But then, the costochondritis came. And that means no physical activity until that clears up, which can take months 😦
So that’s why I’ve been frustrated. I miss running a whole lot. A lot of people think I’m crazy for being so obsessed with running, and I probably am. But running just has this effect on me, it’s makes me calm, inspired, and confident all at once. And as they say…

Running… Cheaper than therapy.

Haha, anyway I miss the feeling that I get from running. And lately, I just feel like I can’t catch a break, too many things keep getting in the way. I always kind of thought that running was my destiny, and maybe it still is, but that’s okay if it’s not too. The good thing is that these injuries (or whatever) have taught me a lot. There’s a lot more to life than running, and I’m good at a lot of other things. Plus, it’s never to good to invest too much of your being into a single thing.

Hopefully the costochondritis will clear up soon and I get back to running. Right now I’m more focused on being able to eat solid foods… My plan is to run a half marathon on November 16. If I’m not ready by then, well that’s okay. I’ve learned it’s important to just enjoy the ride 🙂

Until next time, which I promise will be much sooner! xoxo Katie