#NJNYtakesTX: Keep Austin Weird

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A hop, skip, and a jump from San Antonio is the capital of Texas, live music, and Flotrack.  Saturday morning, we piled in the VW and took a mini road trip singing “Life is a Highway” to enjoy Austin.  Thanks to the hospitality of Flotrack’s Ryan and Mitch, it was a pretty awesome trip.  The day started with a long run around Town Lake, a loop that was the perfect long run distance and a soft surface.  The path was pretty crowded at the start of the run, which was a little difficult for a group of six to maneuver, but it’s nice to see a city that is so fit and active.  It was clear we were from out of town when we stripped down to sports bras to soak in the sun while most other people were aware that it was January and wore tights and long sleeves.

After the long run, I found out that breakfast tacos are my new favorite food. Torchy’s Tacos (tag line: Damn Good) is a food truck that I highly recommend if you get the chance. Then I went to a Whole Foods that had a live band playing inside. Yes, a live band in a grocery store. Amanda, Kate, and I also had the opportunity to meet up with a fellow bird, Sarah Stevens. It was nice to spend the afternoon with Sarah and her daughter taking some pictures and checking out S. Congress Street. Austin really is a unique place.

I’ve been in Texas for a week now and I feel like I’ve already gotten so much out of it. If you get the chance to escape the cold and have a change of pace in a new area, I highly recommend it.  I’m definitely focused when I’m at home; I know what I’m trying to do and what it takes.  But coming to a new place with the sole purpose of getting a solid month of serious, hard work in is refreshing.  Getting to travel and experience new cities is an added bonus that running has given me and I’m extremely grateful to have these opportunities.  More to come in the next three weeks.

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#NJNYtakesTexas: We Have Arrived!

After many traveling woes (canceled and delayed flights, missing bags, excessive turbulence) our whole contingent is finally here and settled in the Lone Star State.  First impressions of Texas: everything really is bigger, Mexican food is delicious, and there’s something about a truck. I guess there has to be some truth to the stereotypes.
1. The trip to the “grocery store” was very overwhelming for me. HEB Plus was like a combination of five different stores with groceries, clothes, appliances, electronics, and probably anything else you could imagine (but somehow different than Walmart).
2. The restaurant was a great choice. First dinner in Texas was done right with enchiladas.
3. There really are so many trucks! But not just your average truck, because everything is bigger here. We pulled up to a restaurant for dinner with our little VW Jetta between two monsters. I think I would have needed a boost just to get onto the step that is supposed to boost you into the truck.

Amanda and I were the last ones to arrive late last night, but this was no reason to forget why we are here.  This morning started with a cross training and core session at Gold’s Gym.  This place was huge and very luxurious! I wish I could say that since I wrote about my attempts to become a swimmer I have succeeded and can now swim a gazillion laps while rotary breathing like a pro, but I can’t. I really did practice, but I’m not confident enough in my swimming to use it as a legitimate, beneficial form of cross training. Today I stayed in my comfort zone and used my new aqua jogging belt, but I have not given up on swimming! I have my swim cap and goggles with me and I want to keep working on it. This was followed up by an afternoon trail run. Today was still a little chilly, but it certainly wasn’t 6° like new jersey and the rest of the week is supposed to be in the 60s and 70s!

Some motivation for the weeks to come from Kara Goucher:
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New Year, New Place, New Plans

Sunshine and 10 Gallon Hats
I spent a good part of last night in Newark Airport (delayed for hours) because I have the opportunity to take a break from the northeast winter to get in some warm weather training in San Antonio. Unfortunately we never left. After hanging out for five hours, the flight was canceled. We weren’t able to get on another one until Monday evening, and our bags were not pulled so they went out on the first flight to San Antonio this morning. One more weekend (without any of my good running clothes) training in the cold and snow.

Once we get out there, however, I am really looking forward to a solid month of training, uninhibited by snow, slush, and ice, and a chance to experience a new place. Big thanks to Rose Monday, Oiselle, and Coach Gag for making this all happen for us. Expect a few more posts this month as I report on my Texas adventures!

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Amanda and me ready to leave, and the snow that kept us in NJ

Some Resolutions
I don’t really have a tradition of coming up with a New Year’s resolution.  That’s not to say that don’t think there are things about myself that I could improve, I just usually don’t remember to think about it, and if I do, I get frustrated when I don’t stick to it.  This year I actually have been thinking about some things that I would like to do or work on in 2014, the New Year seems like a great way to start.

1. Become a Tea Drinkerimage
I have never liked tea. Iced or hot, even the smell of it usually makes me feel nauseous. At the same time, I have always wished I did like it. It seems like such a healthy soothing thing to have on cold winter nights before bed. Last year I had a miserable cold when I went home for winter break and my dad begged me to try his herbal tea and it was actually pretty good! A taste for coffee took some time for me to acquire at first too. So I’m starting with this vanilla sleepytime tea before bed and we’ll see where it goes!

2. Drink More Water
As a runner, I think it’s weird that I have to remind myself to drink water. Most of my friends’ water bottles are like an extra limb that they always have with them. I’m really good about it at meets or races, but I really should work on being hydrated all of the time.

3. Eat Different Veggies
I was super picky as a kid growing up and did not eat many things that were healthy for me without a fight. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to like vegetables a lot more, which is good, but I want to branch out from my typical corn and broccoli. I’ve started eating cauliflower more recently, but I want to try more. Any suggestions for veggie recipes are appreciated!

4. Flexibility
I’ve said it before, stretching is a new thing for me. I am incredibly inflexible. Running at the intensity that I am, I would definitely benefit from being more flexible. This goal is part of the reason for plan #5…

5. Get Into Yoga
This one I have been thinking about for years and for some reason never did it. Aside from increasing my flexibility, yoga will increase my core strength while hopefully relieving some stress and relaxing me. I’ve looked into some classes in my area, but there aren’t always beginner classes that fit my schedule and I have yet to get myself out the door. And maybe I’m a little self-conscious about my lack of flexibility. I decided to start small. You can do anything with the Internet. I found a short morning yoga routine on YouTube that I have been doing to get my day started. Maybe after some practice with these basic poses, I will have enough courage to get me to some classes.

6. Discipline
The mental ability to stick with all of these things. I think all of them, or at least most of them, go along with one another and really have to do with me taking steps to get to the next level as an athlete. Looking forward to what 2014 has to offer!

A Week in Eugene: Goodbye NCAA part 1

Two weeks short of four years ago, I remember staring out the window of the rental car on the two hour ride from Portland to Eugene.  It was my first trip to historic Hayward Field, a chance to compete on the most famous track in the world, at Junior Nationals.  The seven of us making the trip spent the night before huddled in my dorm room watching Without Limits as if we needed more pumping up for the trip.  I remember the whole week like it was yesterday, touring the town, pictures at the track, pictures on Pre’s trail, pictures at Pre’s rock, lunch at Tracktown Pizza.  I remember watching the elite races, being in awe of the speed, talent, and poise. And now I am lucky enough to end my college career with another week in Eugene.

Getting There
Monday morning, our NCAA distance contingent (made up of myself and Bri, one of our freshmen who qualified in the steeple chase) did our pre-race workout. It wasn’t until after my last 200 that coach said, “Hey that was your last workout!” Still being hopeful for USAs, I can’t say that has really hit me yet. That very well could have been my last workout as an NCAA athlete! I feel like I’ve been pointing out “my lasts” constantly. Really weird feeling.
A couple hours later we were heading to the airport. Much different from the regionals trip, everything went as planned. We had a layover in Charlotte, ate a nice dinner and went for a walk in the airport (since I couldn’t really double) and then hopped on the next plane to Portland. Fortunately, I got a good nap on the plane because we arrived in Portland at 11pm (pst). We spent the night in Portland and drove to Eugene Tuesday morning.

Settling In
This was my third trip to Eugene (got to watch the Olympic Trials last year, in addition to Junior Nat’s), but the first time I got a tour of the town from a native duck. My boyfriend’s future roommate is a true Eugene enthusiast, was an excellent tour guide, and provided a very detailed list of things to do and places to go for the week. I have to admit, it’s a pretty cool campus, even past Hayward Field. It’s very green, full of trees, and buzzing with people (I didn’t realize they were still in class).
Later on, Bri and I went for a run on Pre’s trail, and then looped the track for her to see for the first time. The energy in the area is incredibly motivating and I was starting to get really excited for the weekend of races. After that we met up with Donald, the third Orange qualifier in the 110H, for some dinner at the Wild Duck (I recommend the chef’s special Greek mac n cheese!)

Finally, we embraced our true track nerdiness and huddled around my tablet to watch Without Limits. Unfortunately poor internet connection cut the fun short, but we were all still a bit tired from the time change and travels. It was time for a good night’s sleep.

Track Day One
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By Wednesday we were allowed to be at the track. I have to say, they really know how to make you feel important. The facilities are pretty awesome to begin with; there is a three lane warm up track and a big turf field on the south side of the stadium. The turf field was the athlete hospitality area, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that even our three-person orange crew had its own tent! There was also a large tent with tons of snacks and drinks for the competitors. Between this area and the track were all kinds of fan stands set up with souvenirs and tack memorabilia.
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We got these cards with our credentials. They were signed by aspiring runners from a local middle school with good luck wishes and invitations to write them notes of good luck as well! I thought that was so awesome!
We had a nice run together, around the neighborhood a bit and back to Pre’s trail, before I dropped Bri off. Then I did a 90 second pick-up in the graveyard across the street (Yes, track nerds, the one from the movie) and jogged it back in. Walked back to the hotel, quickest shower ever, and walked back to Hayward to get some dinner at Bepe and Giannis, great Italian place right next to the track.
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Then it was back to the track for some men’s steeple prelims and women’s 10k action. It’s super exciting to see that kind of crowd at a track meet!

Pre-Race Day
My pre-race day was also Bri’s actual race day, so the early part was all about her (look forward to a guest post from Bri on being a freshman at NCAAs coming very soon!) Solid breakfast is pretty important for evening races, so we went to the highly recommended Glenwood. After some delicious french toast, we walked back to the hotel for some vegging out. I don’t like to sit here doing nothing but thinking race, race, race forever, so I pulled out some homework and worked on lesson plans (if you’re a teacher check out ldpnonfictionbookclub.wordpress.com). Then it was time for one last run on Pre’s trail, some strides in my spikes (same Victories I’ve worn all year), and pack it in. I made sure I had plenty of time to shower and get back to cheer for Donald and Bri. Donald got the orange ball rolling with an auto qualifier for the final! And Bri made me proud as a true freshman competing with the best. She has three more years to make it to the final and take the NCAA.
I got Bepe and Giannis penne pesto to go, partly because I wanted to see more races and partly because I didn’t want to sit in a restaurant alone. Then I got to see the men’s 10k and the 1500 of the decathlon. Finally, walked back to the Days Inn and watched an episode of The West Wing before calling it a night. I had a big day ahead of me!