Cross country athlete goes through her daily grind
April 26, 2018
At 6:15 a.m. my alarm blares. I feel like I just crawled into bed,given that I left the library at 11:30 the night before.
By 6:45, I’m walking out the door, swinging my school bag on my back and strapping my gear bag on my front. As I arrive at the front of Leavey, I greet a pile of fifty runners—half male, half female. Most of the group looks drowsy. Some are slumped against the wall with closed eyes.
Two women are using rollers and bands to work out the nagging tightness from the hundreds of miles of running we do each month. My hip is aching so I grab a lacrosse ball.
I lay down straight on the spot and grit my teeth. I’m slightly more awake now. We pile into vans headed to Baylands Park. It’s a Tuesday, a workout day.
The first few steps of the warm-up are hard. A thread of pain shoots up my knee and my hip makes me rock too heavily to one side. I stare blankly at the ground feeling heavy. I crack my neck, shake my head, take a deep breath and lengthen out—relax.
Twenty minutes and about two and a half miles later, the aches and pains diminish as my muscles somehow remember they work. Dynamic drills and strides lead us to standing, glistening with sweat, in front of the coaches. There’s a crackling of energy now.
Today is one of our hardest workouts with almost seven miles of running near race pace.
“This workout is all about execution. Let’s keep the tempo miles even and push hard on the fast intervals,” Coach Pete says after rattling off the mileage and paces.
We line up at the first cone that the coaches have carefully measured out. “Three, two, one: Go!”
The first three steps are quick as we build momentum and shuffle around each other to find comfortable positions.
There’s a teammate keeping stride to my right and three stomping on our haunches. My stride feels effortless and powerful; I’m floating. We pass the first quarter-mile mark, “85! Perfect!” I yell. The next 400 meters. “85!” Pete is hollering across the park. It’s easy now—later it won’t be.
We loop around the park, alternating tempo miles with speed work.
Our pack begins to break. As I start fading, a teammate yells, “Come on Mar, let’s hit this eight!”
I try to deepen my breathe and dig deep. Now, with muscles burning and sweat pouring down, I have to command my protesting legs to keep moving.
We run through the last 400—“73!” I take a few steps on jello legs as teammates strew around the finish line. Some double over with hands on their knees while I clasp my hands behind my head and take a few unsteady steps.
After a cooldown, we are back in the vans. 8:45 in the morning and we already have 11 miles in the book.
Practice is far from over. Fifty sweaty, hot bodies pack into the small weight room in the basement. Our weight coach rattles off the lifts for the day—“Huddle up, y’all! Three, two, one: WORK!”
I strategize the best way to finish the workout as quickly as possible; I have to make it to my 10:20 class on time. Attempting to ignore my shaking legs, I head to the squat rack and load the weights.
I’m in the locker room by 10 o’clock—just enough time to change out of my sweaty clothes and into a fresh athletic look. I grab my school backpack and dig around.
Crap. I forgot to get food last night. My teammate offers me a banana as she cracks open her Clif bar. “You can’t not eat after workouts,” she says.
Three of us pile into our organic chemistry lecture right as our professor starts. I pull my notebook out on my desk—three problem sets later, I feel my eyes closing.
I keep sipping water trying to stay alert and fill my grumbling stomach.
It seems like only a minute later when I look down and see squiggles, despite my valiant attempts to maintain attention.
My teammate looks over and laughs. “Don’t worry. I’ve got you today. We’ll go to tutoring tonight anyways.” Besides, she used my notes last week when she too couldn’t keep her eyes open.
In the 10 minutes between class and lab, I manage to grab a bar from the coffee shop in Lucas.
My legs feel weak but I finish the three-hour lab with a few random bursts of energy and a successfully synthesized indigo sample. It’s almost 3 p.m. now.
I debate whether to head to Benson to get my first real meal of the day or to shower first.
I opt to shower—if I eat first, I’ll fall asleep in my room. I have a paper due tomorrow and a chemistry quiz the day after. I can’t afford to lose the time. It’s 3:45 and I’m in the library.
At 5:30, I head back to the gym to give my brain a break.
My hip is still bugging me. I bike for twenty minutes—just enough to start to shake out the lactic acid.
The next twenty minutes are dedicated to stretching and rolling, listening to any cues my muscles might be sending me.
Every little bit of my lower body aches in one way or another.
Tomorrow, I’ll have to find time to make it to the trainer.
After a quick dinner with friends, I meet my teammates for chemistry tutoring at 7 o’clock. I’m in the library by 8:30, and back to my room by 10:30 p.m. My paper isn’t finished, but my eyelids aren’t staying open any longer. I set my alarm for 6:15 a.m. and crawl into bed.
6:15 arrives. I hit snooze but manage to coax myself out of bed. By 6:45, I’m out the door with one backpack on the front, one on my back.
My body is tired, my mind is tired, but I can’t help but smile when I walk up to my teammates.
Today, like every other day, we will discover what we are capable of by pushing each other to the limit.
Contact Marisa Rudolph at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.