Friday, April 5, 2013

Sometimes Things Don't Go According to Plan

For the past two weeks my track workouts have been halted due to scheduling conflicts with the sports teams at my school. Last week I checked the schedule for the track and field teams and when I saw there wasn't a meet I assumed I was good to go. So I laced up my sneakers and ran the mile and a half from my apartment to campus. When I arrived at the track I found out there was a lacrosse game, meaning I couldn't run. Not sure what to do, I tried to get an answer about when the track is open for use by students. No such luck. I felt so great during my warm up that I decided to run around campus (UMBC's campus is a loop) and then go back to my apartment. I wanted to run fast and so that's what I did.

The loop around campus is half uphill and half downhill with the track at the bottom of the hill. So up I went. It's not the longest climb but it's long enough to make it challenge you mentally and physically. At the top of campus I ran over to a little gated community that also has some hills and then finished running the loop before heading home. The way back from campus to my apartment is also a little hilly. There aren't really hills but it is a very gradual uphill with a nice little climb at the end.

Mile 1: 8:42
Mile 2: 9:04
Mile 3: 9:20 <- hill!
Mile 4: 8:12
Mile 5: 8:21
Mile 5.9: 8:23

I didn't have any time goal for this run since it was supposed to be my track workout. Instead I just ran on feel, not even thinking about running fast or hard. I ran because I wanted to and I enjoyed every minute of it. When I got back to my apartment I was pleasantly surprised to see my pace over such a hilly run, especially since I wasn't intentionally pushing it.

This Wednesday for my track run I knew better. I checked all of the schedules and saw there was a lacrosse game at 4:00 pm. I'll move my workout to Thursday. Problem solved. Except I got out of work much earlier than expected and suddenly had enough time to do my workout before the game. Around 1:30 I headed over to the track, same routine as last week. When I got to the track I was happy to see there was nobody there except for two T&F runners doing some drills.

I did some stretching and started my first repeat, only to be stopped part way through by an athletic director telling me I needed to leave so they could set up for the game. I questioned him and he told me it was too dangerous for me to be there before the game, even though they were only carrying coolers. I started getting upset and asked when I could use the track since every time I tried to I was not allowed. He so kindly informed me that before, during, and after both games and practices the track was closed. Just to clarify, I asked 

"so the track is pretty much closed the entire day every day?"
"yes, you can run around the loop if you want to run"
"that's really not an acceptable answer"

The conversation went on for a bit longer, him telling me that the athletic facilities at Division I schools are only for student-athletes and me protesting and calling bullshit. After realizing I was getting nowhere and not wanting to waste my time arguing with him I left. I debated whether to run back to my apartment and call it quits or get in a hard run anyway.

In the end I decided I wasn't going to let him stop me from getting in some good training. So up the hill on the loop I went. And then came the wind. 20-25 mph winds while running uphill can make a person cranky. I pushed harder and harder but felt like I was going backwards. I tried to convince myself that not giving up on the uphills would make the downhills that much sweeter.

7.75 miles
8:36 average
7:25 last mile (before cool down)

And it did. I finished strong and happy, despite how challenging that was. It was the kind of run that makes you proud of yourself for pushing through even when you don't feel great and the conditions suck. I was hurting during that last mile, but I needed that. I needed to push myself to that place where I'm begging to stop running because it hurts so badly. Runs like these are what makes us stronger, mentally and physically.


  1. I'm glad somebody likes to run hills ;) I used to run them in cross country training in college, but boy do I ever hate them, especially hill repeats! You go girl!

  2. Nice job sticking to it even with the stupid track situation. They should probably post that somewhere if that's the way the track is...

    1. It is the most frustrating thing ever! The AD gave me his business card so I could email him and find out when the track is available and he won't respond. Ahhh!

  3. I wish I had somewhere to really practice hills. South Texas does not have much options for hills. Good job on your workout. Good for you for not giving up after you saw the track was in use.

    1. Thanks! Baltimore isn't too hilly but there are a few nice climbs here and there. In my mind hills are relative!

  4. Yes, I love those tough runs when you can push through and feel so good afterward- nice job!

  5. Ugh--I hate that kind of stupid attitude about tracks! I'm glad you were able to channel your frustration into a great run.

    I used to do a group track workout up at Hopkins years ago. All was fine until lax practices started. Even though they let us continue running, it was hazardous for us as lax balls rolled into the track, whizzed by our heads, etc. So that was the end of that!

    1. Maybe lacrosse players have something against runners ;) As frustrating as it is I would much rather find somewhere else to run than get hit by one of those balls

  6. "You don't get better at running hills by walking them." I love, love that! I'm so happy that you took lemons and made lemonade by having a great run anyway. Such stupid rules. Maybe you should find a high school track. They are a little more available (that is if they keep them open at all, these days you never know).

    Because of time constraints I've been doing my intervals on the road. I found a fairly flat stretch of road (one way is slightly uphill, but you get the good stuff on the way back), measured of 1/4 and 1/2 miles, and I've been doing them there. It has worked well, it is right around the corner from my house.

    1. The high school closest is really not in an area that I want to be running in. I'm thinking about just doing my intervals on the road and adjusting my times. So frustrating though!