Week two of my new job and I’m getting back in the early morning groove.

Monday: 6 miles before work, in the dark, with Morgan for the first mile. I ran hard Saturday and lifted Sunday, and got my mileage back to 50, so this run basically sucked. 8:15 pace, 141 AHR.

Tuesday: 8 miles on the treadmill before work. Look, I can tolerate two crappy running things at a time. Speedwork is one. Early is one. Dark makes three, cold makes four, and that’s too many. 4×20 seconds fast (10.5 mph) then 4×1 mile at 85-90%, 800 jogs, averaged 6:25 (163-169 AHR on the reps) and got a “Good!” from coach. Felt like I could have gone faster if I wasn’t scared of becoming squished on the back wall of the gym. 7:27 pace, 153 AHR. Jasyoga in the evening.

Wednesday: 5.2 miles in the morning, 8:15 pace, 153 AHR. Recovery day. Morgan went 1.25. Did lower body strength at home and taught Pilates in the evening. SOLID day.

Thursday: 8.3 miles easy/moderate, Morgan first 1.3, started picking it up around mile 2, then went 7:36, 7:23, 7:35, 7:30, 7:26. Not quite moderate but getting there which is good for dark, cold and early. 7:44 pace, 150 AHR. Taught Pilates in the evening.

Friday: 4 mile shakeout before work, 8:06 pace, 144 AHR. Morgan went the first 1.25. Dark and cold.

Saturday: CLUB CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS. I alternated between being really excited about this and really not excited. USATF made it a total PITA to get registered and we still never got it all straightened out. Coach Matt and I sent a gazillion emails trying to get it correct. And, I’ve run two cross country races ever in my life and that was when Club Cross was in Lexington in 2009 and I ran that plus a tune-up before (and ran Memphis marathon like 1-2 weeks before, PR’d by 16 minutes and was sitting on bilateral tibial stress fractures). It was a mentally taxing work week and two girls came to stay with us Friday night, which was awesome but also meant I had to clean my house when I got home Friday. Nobody wants to do that.

Another girl met us Saturday morning and the four of us headed to Lexington, about an hour away, to meet our fifth teammate. The trip was not without it’s highlights, like how a girl almost smashed into my SUV in the first 10 minutes and resulted in an Americano being spilled on the floorboard but somehow disappearing into the ether and we never figured out where the liquid went. Whatever. Don’t tell Mr. Chic because we were in his car.

Our fifth teammate picked up our packets, which was great since we got there later than planned. It was FREEZING. 30º, feels like 21º, 10 mph winds. Oh boy. Guess who decided she was going to debut her new bun huggers at this race? Sigh.

Sun’s out, buns out. Except the sun wasn’t out.

The logistics were a little tricky because it was so damn cold. We wanted to warm up in lots of clothes, but needed to shuck them and get into spikes before the race. Fortunately we had a husband/sherpa and I knew the guys timing the race. We decided we’d drop clothes and shoes near the timing trailer (it’s freezing ass cold at club cross nats, nobody’s going to take our stuff), and head out for 2 miles after a port-a-john pitstop.

It is COLD. And I have forgotten my racing socks. On the way to the start I sprint to the car and grab them because the ones I have on are too bulky for my spikes. Rookie move, Chic.
I meet up with the team and strip down to buns, singlet, arm warmers, mittens, ear warmers. We do a fast team photo and run to the start to find a box to line up in (we were unattached, so we could just take an open spot).


None of us knew he was coming. And there he was, in his giant coach parka, giving pre-race hugs. I am a first-born child, daddy’s girl, teacher’s pet, Type A perfectionist. If coach is there, I have no choice but to give it everything I have.

We get in our box and do a group hug. We don’t really know what we’re doing — nobody ran collegiately — but we have heart and grit.

After the longest on-your-mark, we take off. Cross country is crazy because they line you up horizontally. Everyone funnels towards the course’s middle, and the start is a smidge uphill and then a great downhill. I’m keeping my eyes on the feet of my teammate Jen but trying to find a groove.

There’s some jostling as the course tightens and turns, but I like to run with my elbows out and played fullback in boy’s varsity soccer, so whatever.

I split a 5:54 first mile. Yikes. Not ideal. My road 5k PR is right at 6 min. This is a 6k cross country race. This is a bad idea.

But I don’t feel terrible. And coach is there yelling for me. As Rinny says, “Suck it up, princess.”

The kilometers are marked but also just random other course markings and I have no idea what the KM splits mean so I just keep trucking along. It’s 2 loops of a 3k course, and there’s a huge hill at the end of the first loop. Hey! There’s coach again. Throughout the race he just ran back and forth and yelled for us. Every time I heard him, I dug a little deeper.

First loop done. 11:15 or something. Okay. You know what’s coming up. Stay with it. The crowd has thinned out a lot. I’m passing and getting passed, and coach had said to play the plus/minus game and count how many you pass and get passed by, but it’s just too many. I tell myself to start counting at 4k. By 4k my brain is foggy, my contacts are frozen, and I want to die.

I tell myself to count at 5k. At 5k, I tell myself to just not die.

Thank goodness there’s that GIANT HILL at the end. Shit.

I cross the finish and see Jen, then teammate ahead of me, off to the side of the chute. I stagger over and basically collapse on top of her, which is not ideal since she also can’t stand up. We cheer for our other teammates as they come in. We do a big group hug. We drag ourselves to the water. We hug coach.

Then we find ALL THE CLOTHES.

My final time was 23:12 for 6k, 6:12 pace. That’s 8 seconds per mile faster on a hilly XC course than I ran for a similarly-hilly road 5k on Thanksgiving. Haha. AHR 176, splits 5:54, 6:21, 6:13, .74 in 4:42 (6:22 pace). (these are not as uneven as they seem with the hills). I was 178th. Whoa. (Paprika was 44th!)

It’s rare that I can be so happy about such a not-high finishing place, or so happy about something that was so damn hard. I loved running with my team. I loved having my coach there. I am proud I ran hard and never gave up. I had a great time. Running in buns and spikes felt fast and fancy.

We did not cool down. We put on all our clothes and then some more clothes and then watched the men’s race with coach.

Sunday: The worst 3.4 miles of my life which I thought would get me to 40 miles for the week but somehow got me extra. Morgan went 2.15! (And she did 2 with Mr. Chic on Saturday!) 8:18 pace, 135 AHR. So cold. So sore.

Totals: 40.6 miles run, 138 min Pilates/Strength/Jasyoga. 9 miles for Morgan!