- GET PUBLISHED
Looking back, this year has a been a blur. Spring track, summer workouts, fall cross country – the states, regionals and nationals – the college visits, a decision and quickly into Nordic skiing. So much packed in to each day, each month, each sport. But for me, the season really began this summer, when, for the second year, my training had to get serious.
Editor’s Note: Autumn Eastman, a senior at Champlain Valley Union High School, is one of the premiere distance runners in the state. Last fall, Autumn began journaling about her running to show what it was like and explain why she works so hard to succeed. Autumn’s story is the first in a new YWP feature, INSPIRED, in which young people write about what inspires them to succeed.
I am a very busy person--with running, babysitting, rollerskiing and making sure I have my basic human needs met, I always have an agenda. Constructing this agenda has stemmed from my personality. I love getting things done early, efficiently, and easily, so that I have the rest of the day to do nothing, or other non-athletic activities. Sometimes the "go-getter", fast-pace(sic) attitude translates to my running too. I love running from a starting point to a different end point because then it feels like I have a mission instead of running in circles. Like I said, when I have a mission, I also tend to do it fast, so today, I ran from my house to the school, and I did it fast. It felt great because I knew exactly where I was headed and when I finished my run, I moved right on to the next task. I hate waiting for other people--I am very independent and love being able to do things on my own terms.
If there's one thing that I've learned through many years of running, the feelings and pains that one feels when they run are both questionable and factual. There have been several times during my runs that my legs have felt tired or fatigued. Nowthis feeling is quite factual, in that I should listen to my body if my legs tell me that I am tired. However, there have also been times when I have experienced little shocks of pain that will rotate to different parts of my legs. Those little pains I usually ignore because they go away within 10 seconds.
Sometimes your legs can in a way trick you into thinking that you're tired or injured, when in reality, you're completely fine. That's why it's important to know yourself as a runner. What feels normal? What feels abnormal? This one can(sic) only develop with experience, age and maturity.
Waking up in the middle of Boston, MA for college visits, the sounds were so not "Vermont sounds". I woke up at 6:30 AM to be able to get my run in before we traveled all around the chaotic city. My mom wanted to come with me, so I welcomed her with open arms. Doing a run always feels better when your(sic) doing it with somebody else. Stepping outside of the hotel, the culture of the city life hit me like a truck. Cars were honking, and there were no trees; only tons of people. I was hesitant at first to rn outside in a place that was so unfamiliar to me. Plus, I had little experience with city life, so I didn't know if this part of Boston was safe or not.
Today's track meet felt different: I had competition. Not only was I worried about the results, but I was nervous to experience the pain and nervous I wouldn't know how to deal with it. In my head, I am a very aggressive competitor and talk myself into a race and also out of one. In situations when I am nervous before a race, I try to talk myself out of being nervous and anxious and I tell myself that it will be fun and that "I know how to race". I try to save the nervous adrenaline from pumping too soon, but it is very easy to let it get to your head. The feeling is all the way up in the top of your stomach, underneath your ribcage. It is a feeling that is really difficult to explain, but is known to everybody that races. No one really knows why they're nervous--"Well, I want to do well"--yes, but you have complete control over that during the race. So, in-actuality(sic), it is being scared of the unknown and the future results that make people nervous and scared to race. The worst part of racing is the pre-race. Warming up feels like the death of you--because everything feels so tight, heavy and tired and meanwhile, your stomach is lurching everywhere from the nervous adrenaline pumping through your blood.
Julienne, my running partner and my best friend, was supposed to show up late to practice today. This only meant one thing: I had to find somebody else to run with. Feeling kind of awkward and alone, I strolled over to another girls' running group and asked where they were going to go for a run. Today was a short run (because we have a track meet tomorrow) so I wasn't very worried about going too slow or slowing down my training. All I felt concerned about was finding somebody new to run with. The track team really isn't a tight knit pack of girls like the XC team, so making connections with other female runners doesn't feel as "normal".
The girls were very inclusive and welcomed me into their group with open arms, under one condition: that I run SLOW. In that moment, I chuckled and at the same time, I felt bad in a way. I didn't like the feeling of being superior, I wanted them to feel like they were the same people, like me; no different. I hated feeling "better". My chuckles helped my stomach pop back up from this feeling and I continued on running, feeling very self-conscious about my speed and how far ahead I was of them and how close they were to me. I wanted to make them feel like they belonged to the same sport I played and were just as good as me. It felt almost awkward.
One of the most memorable parts of today's run, which was a 45-60 min run around town, was seeing an owl perched on a tree branch high up in the sky. As my feet were scrambling up a hill in Hinesburg, my breathing started to get raspy and the warm air infiltrated my face and poured the sweat down my face as if it had been stored up until that moment.
As I reached the top of the hill, I started to see the full view of the trees ahead. Running in the woods, I think, is one of the most fun terrains to run-- there is so much nature and peace surrounding you as you work your body to it's max. It's a more challenging form of running. There is a constant supply of roots and rocks which are destined to trip you up. The blue sky and the wall of green which surrounds you, creates a calming environment in which you are able to relax in a state of stress.
Today, April 8th, 2013, was one of the hottest days we have experienced since the winter. Recently, the weather has been a mix of gusty winds (which topple runners over) and occasional sprinkles, which only bug the crap out of little inches of our bodies -- it really should only be pouring rain or not raining at all. Despite the weather, runners still run.
Everybody always asks our XC coach: what do you feed your cross country girls? And the truth is, the CVU XC girls don't have some crazy dieting plan of straight vegetables, and meats; we eat what everybody else eats. At team dinners we stuff ourselves full of pasta, salad, bread and save a good portion of our apetite for some apple crumble, ice cream or pie. None of us watch our weight or forensically watch what we eat. In fact, we all probably eat too many sweets and use the excuse of "we ran a lot today, we deserve it" WAY too many times. However, as runners, we believe that it is important to eat well to replenish our bodies with good nutrients after a hard day of training, but this does not limit us to several different kinds of foods during the week. I think that the only time of the week we are only very "picky" about what we eat, is the night before a race and the morning of.
Water is a huge part of our diet. Drinking about 70 ounces of water a day is the minimum amount that we should be drinking. You would be surprised how much of a difference it makes to drink water. I always notice that if I havent drunk enough water one day, practice seems that much harder; whether it be my breathing or my legs.