I know it's been awhile since I've blogged but I thought I should do one final one now that my career as a Santa Clara student-athlete has come to a close. It's time for me to finish off school and join the real world. I have no idea what looms ahead of me...hopefully a fun job for a year and a half and then medical school, but I do have to tackle the MCAT once more to make that happen. But before I worry about the rest of my life, I want to reflect back on one of the most significant things in my life for the past 41/2 years.
I'm going to make a horrible analogy, but please bear with me for despite the pre-med aspirations I am actually a psychology major. If my running career were a psychological disorder it would be bipolar because my career has been characterized by such extreme highs and lows. From making history with the team as a freshman, to the utter failure of the season the following year; from the disappointment and depression of so many injuries, to the incredible feeling of the first race back from them; to the heartbreak of not making the postseason team in my first senior season and not competing with my best friends who I started out with, to joining in the pride of huge comebacks with the seniors of my second senior year who I came to love just as much. Indeed, there have been ups and downs, but the struggle upwards from the bottom and the incredibly redeeming feeling of success has been enough to not only make it worth it, but also make it a truly defining experience in my life.
I have been fortunate to be blessed with such amazing teammates. The upperclassmen from my freshman year taught me as much as the freshmen did this year and I'm not exaggerating in the least to say that all of my teammates have made me a better person. They have been my best friends but also amazing role models, support systems, and confidants. And add to that a coach who has stood by me through brattiness and friendship. I have definitely changed for the better in college and I attribute that to having been surrounded by such dynamic, inspiring people. Look at what some of the alumni from our team have already done in their short post-college lives - we have had multiple girls do a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, have had girls go on to grad school at Northwestern and Stanford, will have a couple of physical therapists, are watching the budding of a possible professional triathlon career, and are hearing from another in her PhD. program. Santa Clara really is the place to come if you want the true experience of a student-athlete.
But as most people realize when they get older, a list of accomplishments and snazzy jobs really isn't the true measure of happiness or success. What I think is even cooler than the above list is that Cara, Tara, Milena, Katie, Robin, and Shannon still get together and run marathons; that I still email with girls who were seniors when I was a freshman, and have frozen yogurt dates to catch up with others five years after the fact; that when I run at Rancho I will invariably see a group of older former Bronco Harriers running together who on today's team are referred to as legends - and when we travel, even across the country, we have former teammates coming out to cheer us on, show us where to eat dinner, and giving us gift certificates to Safeway (Thanks Kiley!) Santa Clara XC really does build FAMILY and I am so happy to be the newest grown-up to emerge from the group.
Last year I thought I might cry when I was finally done with it...and to be honest, I am a crier and still might at some point. But as sad as I am to be done, I have to say I am ready. I finished off with no regrets and am satisfied with what I accomplished. I know it is time to move on to the next phase of my life, whatever that may have in store... So thank you for reading my horrible blogs and I hope this could serve as one final distraction for those of you bored at work.
(Not) until next time... -Blossom
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wow well here we are in mid-October and I can't believe how quickly life is speeding by. This past weekend was our home meet, the Bronco Invitational at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale. I am still in shock at how many teams showed up to the meet this year - 24!! Holy crap! I was scared that our poor little park wouldn't be able to handle that many people but thankfully all went well. We also had a huge turnout of alumni, which boosted the mood a lot. It is so cool to see how many former Broncos come back and support us... and this year I got kind of excited/creeped out thinking how next year I would be one of them. As for the race, we had a solid top 5 and also a great showing by freshman Riki Giacchetti in the open race. Again, we faltered at 6 and 7 and despite having the fastest team time in SCU history it was bittersweet because USF still bested us. At conference we need our pack to move up - ahead of USF's!!!
Wait, did I just say conference? Oh yes I did...finally, the race is looming less than 2 weeks ahead of us. I think we are all getting verrrry excited - the reality is starting to set in and we are ready to face it. All I can say is I CAN'T WAIT! This time of the year is always nice - the tranquility of fall, the fun antics of Halloween, and the excitement of the postseason combine for a few really great, action packed weeks.
I'm ending this short because I really need to get in bed for morning practice, but I'll leave you with:
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
I can't believe this is the second year I'm writing about the Notre Dame Invitational. I think I say this far too often, but I am constantly surprised at how quickly time seems to go by.
Sometimes I think about a team's rise to success analogous to climbing a mountain. There are peaks, plateaus, and valleys along the way but with enough perseverance, patience and trust the summit is eventually reached. After years of climbing, and sometimes slipping, we are finally able to see the top. Of course, there is still the illusion that it looks closer than it is, but just being able to see it restores hope, energy, and enthusiasm. When I came here as a freshman my goal was to have the team qualify for nationals by the time I graduate. Okay, so realistically speaking that probably won't happen this year (but I never count out the improbable!) but I feel better knowing I've helped the team to climb some of the smaller peaks on the way to the apex.
So why, exactly, am I babbling like this? I guess I'm not even quite sure. Perhaps I'm thinking this way because we had one of our best-ever team performances this weekend and walked away disappointed with it. Perhaps because we are approaching each meet with much more focus than previous years. Perhaps because for the first time ever we have 13 girls HEALTHY and running 6:12ish pace for tempos in October. I just feel like in the struggle towards greatness we have reached a new level this year.
The race aside, the trip was awesome. The seven of us were a little camera-happy so I'm including a few pictures from the adventure. We got into Chicago on Thursday morning and were greeted at the rental car place with FREE COFFEE!! This was cause for excitement because a huge coffee addiction has swept the team over recent years. The race was Friday afternoon, so after that we were able to put running aside for a day and be tourists. We ate at Notre Dame and raided their bookstore before driving to Chicago where former teammate Jesse Baldwin-Philippi met us for dinner. After dinner we walked probably 5 miles (round trip) just to go to Ghiradelli...pathetically,
The trip was a lot of fun but by the end I think everyone was completely spent. It is refreshing to start the week anew, though I'm sure after all the quizzes and hard workouts I'll feel differently by the end of the week :)
Clearly as my college career is wrapping up I'm starting to get nostalgic, but I'm also very, very excited for our next race - our very own Bronco Invitational at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale! It's on October 13th and if you are in the area you should come and cheer!!! It's our last race before conference and I'm willing to bet every bronco is going to PR like crazy.
Ding! Fries are done!
September 18, 2007
Hello again! Sorry I'm a little behind in giving you the latest update, but here it is...better late than never, right?
I'll start with where I left off: camp week. Needless to say, I was quite surprised to find everyone returning home from camp a day early. It was the day before my MCAT and I was lost in a scientific haze when suddenly my teammates appeared, half of them sick. Apparently we got struck by a bout of the stomach flu, which then was followed by a strong cold the following week. I think I am one of the few people on the team that did not get sick over the past two weeks.
However, most had recovered (except poor Annie who got the chicken pox!!) in time for the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle which was this past weekend. The girls team went into the race with high hopes; this was the perfect race to really establish ourselves as a threat to the other West Region teams. While we didn't execute our race plan exactly as we wanted, we still competed well and it's exciting to know that we can/will do better. I personally had my first PR in FIVE years, so while I had still hoped to run faster, I certainly can't complain!! It feels good. Adriane Puetz ran incredibly, with her time of 21:25 for a 6k being the fastest Bronco time ever over that distance. When my best friend Shannon Bell ran 21:32 as a freshman I was shocked. I didn't know if I'd see the day where someone else on our team ran faster, and man, it is exciting that it's happening!! Freshman Melissa Conlin was also great as our #2 for the second race in a row, with her 22:08 being a very impressive 6k debut.
After the race the team went to Pikes Marketplace which was a lot of fun. It was a lot more crowded than I remember it being last year, but we still managed to buy GIANT Honeycrisp apples, jewelry, and delicious piroshkys for lunch. However, by the time we got to the airport to come back home we were more than ready for the trip to end. Dirty and tired, an hour and forty minute plane ride has never seemed so long. Thankfully I had Danielle sitting behind me so we were able to have some truly quality, clean conversations to pass the time. (And the eye candy next to me definitely also helped ease the discomfort of the flight!)
So now here I am sitting in my new dorm room in St. Clare Hall. I'm about to go for a short shakeout run before dinner. Today was the first day of classes and after studying for the MCAT all summer I feel like I could use a bit of a break, but I guess that's just how life rolls. I'm taking Biochemistry, Psychology of Learning, and Abnormal Psychology so it shouldn't be too bad of a quarter. We have a bye weekend this week before returning to Notre Dame in two weeks so I am assuming we will have a heavy load of training in between. Hmmm....I can't wait for the first 7AM practice of the season tomorrow (sarcastic?) and I know we will be treated with some lovely intervals to usher in the morning.
Until next time...
Sept. 4, 2007
Well another week has gone by, yet as I write this blog I find myself sitting in the same place as I was for the last one: Mission City Coffee on The Alameda. This coffee shop has become my second home this summer, as I've found it to be the best place for me to study and focus.
The rest of the team, however, is probably relaxing on the sunny beach in Santa Cruz and reveling in this morning's great workout. I went up to camp with the rest of the team yesterday where I saw the start to an amazing week. Tom, Barb, and their friends made us a really great dinner and afterwards we built our 2007 mission statement. This year we did it a little differently, though, and made it into what I am calling a "pyramid of success." At the base is focus, followed by health, unity, conference, regionals, and finally topped with "BE A THREAT." The coaches can see it, I can see it, and everyone on the team feels it: this year is going to be special.
Saturday's race at USF was maybe the best season opener I have ever seen our team have. After sweeping the men's and women's races, the atmosphere afterward was different than ever before. I felt giddy. Everyone was excited. The best part is that we ran so controlled and know that we have a lot left in the tank. The mile repeats at Nicene this morning were just as good. We've never had our whole pack averaging sub-6 until today, with our leaders hitting some in the 5:30s. And this is with less recovery than we had last year!
In the past years after doing this workout I have gone back to my old running logs (I'm a little OCD and have written down every workout I've done since my senior year in high school) to compare how far off the team and I were from what we did my freshman year. Five years ago we were the best we've been in SCU history and I, personally, had my best year of running ever. It's been a physical and mental struggle for me since then as I have tried to get close to my old times but never made it. This year, though, I did not go back to my old running log to compare. I KNOW that I ran better, I know that I am fitter, and I know that this will finally be the season where I PR again. I refuse to go out as a has-been, as a burn-out. I finally have the confidence, strength, and health all at the same time again and I can't wait for the rest of the season to show what I'm really capable of. And the best part is, I know the entire team is going to make the comeback with me. I said it before, but I need to say it again: this year is going to be special.
However, I do need to pull my head out of the clouds right now. I take the MCAT in three days and need to celebrate today, my 22nd birthday, with nothing else but electric fields, the circulatory system, and solubility chemistry :) Thank you to everyone who has called, emailed me, and written on my Facebook wall for the birthday wishes. It really means a lot!
Have a great day!
Thursday, August 30th, 2007
Hello again and welcome back to my thrilling blogs! :)
I can't believe that my fifth preseason has just begun - where on earth does the time go?! I am starting to feel old, but hey - I don't mind being the grandma of the team. We have all been back together for less than a week but even in that short time I can tell that this season is going to be special. This is the most dedicated, energetic, motivated, and fit I have seen the team in my five years here. Collectively, we FLEW at our time trial on Friday and I am confident that we are going to carry our momentum into the postseason better this year than in the past. The upperclassmen have experience, the sophomores will benefit from a year of maturity, and this year's freshmen have brought new energy to the group. I know that everyone is really excited to start racing - and that's a good thing because our first race is this Saturday!! I can't wait!
As for me, I had a pretty good summer. My days were consumed with running (70 miles a week! No injuries!) and studying for the MCAT. On Saturdays I also interpreted Spanish at a free health clinic, which was an amazing experience. I hope to continue volunteering there after the XC season ends and I am done with college running (tear). Some of the team also got together for some summer training in Flagstaff where we ran up "Noelle's" famed mountain and read lot's of Women's Day magazines.
We go to camp for 5 days on September 3rd. This is definitely one of the highlights of the season - what's better than mile repeats at gorgeous Nicene, laying out at the beach all day, trail mix, Yahtzee, and friendship bracelets? Of course, there are the nighttime campfire traditions as well... :) I'm really sad that I won't get to spend too much time at camp - I take the MCAT September 7th and can't risk being sleep deprived nor miss last minute review so I will just be driving up to meet the team for the runs. However, once the MCAT is done with I will be able to focus 100% on running this fall since I won't begin applying to medical school until the end of next Spring. It will be a huge weight off my back once this test is over with.
Actually, all this talk about the MCAT is making me feel guilty - this has been a nice little break from going over yesterday's practice test (32!), but I do need to get back to it. All the coffee I just drank will only last for so long... hehe :)
Thanks for reading!