Tuesday, November 1, 2011

when we fall down, only the strong get up

"we flat out didn't execute what we came to the SEC meet to do, we can only hope this defeat provides the momentum we need to carry us into Regionals in order for us to be competitive at a higher level. " 
-in my interview with Jason Edwards

yesterday's SEC meet could not have been a more depressing or disappointing event.  i am fit enough to run amongst and compete within the top-20 runners.  Last year I placed 14th and on the second All-SEC team.  It was quite a feat.  YesterdayI placed 30th and could have gone no faster.

Training has been flawless and my practice times prove that I am ready to compete head to head against the best.  The course was hilly and as a strength runner with more muscles than a raging bull, I was fully prepared to handle the rolling terrain.  The SEC has some stiff competition this year, yet my times show that I am capable of running to that level.  With that said, I have to ask myself, "What went wrong?"

in the lead pack, beginning of race about 1k
I went out in a 5:30 mile.  A perfect first mile spilt for what needs to be accomplished, all-SEC.  I am in the lead pack and still hanging strong.  At the one mile mark, I knew this was going to  be a tough race.  My forearms had already given up on me.  I don't know why my forearms get tight, but once they are tight that is all my body focuses on.  Our pack was still 25 thick and girls were moving places 5 at a time.  Just before the two mile mark, there was a 400-450 meter hill.  However, rolling through the 2-mile was down hill and I spilt 11:18.  I was letting a gap form between me and the lead pack.  When the group rolled on, my legs were unresponsive. The 3rd mile was net-uphill and I did all I could to mentally stay in tack.  I knew exactly where I was at all times while on the course. I hit the 3 mile mark at 17:20 when I should have been closer to 16:50-17:00.  Still moving uphill, I keep rolling for the last part of the race.  I am passing girls and girls are passing me.  I am running with girls I know I can beat and have beaten, some by nearly 1:30 minutes.  Crossing the finish line, I forced myself to stand.  I didn't cave in to sitting down, sprawling  out, looking as if pain had gotten then best of me (even though it probably did).  I stood tall, eyes rolling in the back of my head, and took of my chips.

Wow, 30th.  I couldn't have told you my time if my life was dependent upon it, but I might have guess 23 minutes.  Really I finished 21:39, still, at my point of fitness, unacceptable.

freezing but feeling good
before the race
As they are reading the team scores over the loud speakers, I realize we have finished an embarrassing 9th place behind Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, and for the first time in 24 years, Ole Miss.  These are all teams that should have been out of the question.  It goes to show you that one person can't carry the team and when one person doesn't have the best of days, your team mates should be there to back you up.

Reality sank in as I walked back to the tent.  My dad has always been by my side and is my number one fan.  Coach Schmidt was in a golf-cart and called me over.  I couldn't help it, I started to cry.  This team is NOT 9th place material nor am I a 30th place runner so says my fitness.  Coach gave me wise words and told me to pony up.  I boarded the bus after a hug and a kiss to my parents.  Not even 10 minutes into the bus ride I was a bawling wreck, could have filled an ocean.  Everyone was busily chatting away eating their lunches and I couldn't stand to hear talking, or eating, or noise in general.  (I realize that not everyone has the same coping mechanism as do I, but with my personal performance, I felt like I didn't deserve to talk or do anything except face the facts) My thoughts exactly, "How is 9th in the conference, losing to Ole Miss, and straight up embarrassing Maroon and White, how is THAT even ok with every one?"  All I could do was be angry, be upset, be hurt, be annoyed, be broken for the team and my personal performance. I continued crying as just the pain of not running to my potential sank in (wow, just typing this is making me tear up, i hate but love these emotions)  Coach Franks called me over and talked to me.  He told me it is what it is, way to never give up even in the face of defeat, and to get back on my horse.  So.....I'm saddled up and ready to go.

Looking back, this was most worst race, physically, since Blue Ridge Appalachian State last year.  Things were just not inline for me.

Now, what was the problem?
Training? No, you don't do 5x1600 at an average of 5:18 and not be fit.
Mentality? No, you don't wake up at 4:30 every morning and push yourself 65 miles a week without being mentally tough.
Emotions? No, I am stable and happy, thriving and blessed.
Iron? No, for the first time in my life, I have improved my hemoglobin levels.
Hydration? Not a chance.

Then what IS it!?

Here is the only explanation I can give you.  No excuses, no give ups, but just plain physiology.

I was supposed to start my menstrual cycle on November 1 (today)  and in fact, right on cue, 11am I did.  That means that October 31st (race day), my testosterone levels were at the lowest state possible and my estrogen levels were at an all-time high.  Once menstruation begins, testosterone levels rise and estrogen levels lower.
This is the only possible explanation I can come up with.

I didn't give up. I just couldn't go.

You might think, "Well, then just get on birth control so you can control when your periods come."  My answer to that is, "No."  I am not/will not be sexually active nor do I have an irregular cycle.  I am fine with how my body is right now and like that I don't have to depend on drugs.  Now, with that, I understand and realize that birth control can be a very beneficial medication and that some people are completely dependent upon it.  I understand, I am a women and not everything flows the greatest sometimes (no pun intended). Just for me, I don't want to take it.

SEC's was a good slap in the face for me and I think it has brought the much needed fire for me to continue strong into the Regional meet in 2 weeks.  I know I can run with the lead pack, I know I can respond accordingly.  I know that when the time comes, I will be ready to bring the heat.  When I fall down, the only choice is to get up.

SEC is a thing of the past, but if you think that you can run all over me at Regionals, think again. 



  1. BTW you were 12th last year at SEC (14th at Regionals). However I am more proud of you this year. Anyone can cope when things are going well. It is the tough that cope when things are not so well.

    “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

  2. Hi Renee!

    My name is Lucia; I came accross your blog randomly by finding we both have "making people happy" in our interests. ;) Anyways, *I* am also an XC runner!! High school junior who just finished up her season. I am NOT good (def. not college material EVER!!) and was kinda disappointed with my season..I had been running all year since State last year, and I hardly did any better than the year before. :( If you read this comment, do you have any advice for me? I am willing to work hard..I just don't know where to start again, really, to really improve for next year! Apparantly what I was doing didn't help. :P I am really slow compared to you (22:53 is my current PR for a 5k), and I know I will never ever run like that, but..I would just really really like to improve!!

    Haha..mega comment here. ;) Blessings to you Renee! I see we both love Jesus, too. :)

    In Christ,

    P.S. (You are really pretty, if you don't mind my saying so! ;)

  3. P.S. (This article really inspired me... I just went back and read it after I commented. You are A BEAST, girl. Ugg, that sounds so frustrating, but--way to go! :)

  4. Hey Renee, I can relate exactly what your saying here. Reading this just fired me up! I haven't talked to you in forever but I can see that your still tough as nails. Keep the faith! People like us find a way!