Last I was heard from
Limericks were my style
This time, Haiku tempts
In poetic prose
Syllables: five, seven, five
My story told here…
The demon tendon
Achilles, not of Greek fame
Slain, like sons of Troy
My breath like sharp needles sting
My legs, hardened clay
Day by day, pain exists
A pain I welcome; A pain
I had once thought lost
With each stride, sharp dulls
With each stride, clay turns to dust
Those behind can dine
Fitness supplants pain
Strength and endurance blossom
Speed supplants weakness
The memory fades
The demon tendon is no more
A faint afterthought
The track becomes home
A familiar residence
From which I vanished
I make plans to stay
This home is where my dream grows
But fate intervenes
A new demon shows his face
Hamstring is his name
Agony and ache arrive
Notice of evict
A new home is found
A place of foam and rubber
Roll, stretch, ice and rest
Patience is practiced
The path continues
A road to recovery
The dream is not dead
In an effort to avoid too dull of a blog, I’ll try and err on the side of brevity. For anyone who does not know me, cross country is not particularly “my thing”. I have an abundance of respect for the athletes who thrive in the hills, mud, and grass I just prefer a flatter more predictable route. But, since leaving college I’ve really worked on embracing cross country a bit more (which is easier to do when you only have to commit yourself to 2 races for the year). So I strapped on my adidas spikes in December and I was fortunate enough to have them run my feet all the way to Scotland (people should really invest in a pair of adizero spikes, they’re exceptionally good at turning people international) and that was pretty neat. I’d never been outside the continental US so needless to say it was a pretty incredible experience, despite being someone who is not necessarily pro-elements (wind, ice, rain, hills, creeks running through the course, etc.).
Such an amazing opportunity did come at a bit of a price: extending my cross season well beyond what it normally is. I love running, I really do, but sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I just want to take a break, and sometimes I don’t want to run indoor and I kind of think that’s ok. My dad once told me to choose my battles, which is an incredibly difficult piece of advice to follow for me in particular (I’m sure Mark Feigen could easily validate that for you). But I realized that I want to be able to show the hard work Steve, Ruth, Anthony, and SPI put into me, through my performances. I’d also really like to be able to give a nice big thank you to Adidas, and my parents of course, for their support via some low numbers on the track, that’s why I decided to skip over indoors and focus on outdoors.
So that’s kind of what I’ve been doing the past couple of months – not running indoor. I decided it was a good time to get some solid training in, and Steve saw it as a prime opportunity to have me run some of my least favorite workouts and that’s where I am now, running workouts and excited for outdoor.
It’s been a minute since I have given an update on how awesome life here in Austin is. I will go ahead and say that I am living the dream, baby! High-fives are greatly accepted. I am continuing to pursue my medical profession by working with the great Dr. Ted Spears along with the wonderful physical therapists at Sports Performance International. I have learned a surmountable amount of information on patient care, and the ever-enjoyable phone calls with insurance companies.
Tying into my medical career, I continue to train full-time with Rogue Athletic Club, and training has never been better since the move to Austin, Texas. Last year was a constant struggle with the early morning routines of hard workouts, lack of coffee, and mediocre race results; not to mention my season ending injury in May. Subsequent to our winter break, my training has turned completely around. This didn’t happen by what Steve calls “magic.” I credit the accountability of my training partners JT, Buss, Devin, Gowell, and Hick, mostly. Sure I have become a lot more disciplined by going into the weight room, doing speed development, drills, strides, nutrition, you name it, on my own accord, but it was because of my training partners that I developed the discipline. The group’s moral and comradery has never been better. It feels like family.
As aforementioned, training is going quite well. However, I do still have an occasional sub-par workout performance. I’d like to address the importance of keeping one’s composure of a perceptible “unacceptable” workout or race performance. Pheobe Wright’s article addressing this issue was spot on, and I wanted to articulate how I deal with “a bad day at the office.”
First off, realizing that you aren’t the exclusive athlete dealing with post-race or post-workout depression is a crucial step to getting over the issue. The sooner you get over it, the better. Why linger on something that isn’t a definitive test of your fitness? There are only two races to be ready for –the 2015 USA Championships and the 2016 Olympic Trials. We all have an occasional mediocre, or just a piss-poor, race or workout. One thing I have come to realize is that one event does not define you as an athlete, or a person. It is how you subsequently assess the situation and what you do to prepare for the next race or workout, and how quickly you put it behind you. The mental struggle usually begins even before the gun goes off or before your coach says, “go” on your first interval. Mental preparedness is THE most important step to having a good session or race, but all athletes are head cases, and we occasionally fall short to mentally prepare, or just have negative thoughts. Yes, it’s going to hurt, A LOT, but that is the unwritten contract that every distance runner signs.
Steve reminds me to look at all the positives in my current training block. One negative experience does not make the holistic training block negative. There are unarguably more positives then there are negatives when comparing to a single workout or race. Again, it DOES NOT DEFINE YOU! Not only listening to your philosophical coach is valuable, but also being vulnerable to suggestion from your training partners is essential to one’s success to getting over the workout or race. Grab a beer, joke about how terrible it went, and have some more beer. Any IPA will do.
Accept that there are going to be obstacles thrown into your training. Reach out to the community around you, and most of all…continue to have fun with what you are doing. Til next time my friends.
Disclaimer: I am not a clinical psychologist.
Road racing has always been a special part of my running career. When I plan my spring season, I usually go back and forth on the road or the track- I like to keep this sport interesting. There is a feeling I get when racing on the road… I feed off the positive energy the crowd gives me and its AMAZING! (I’m sure other road racers would agree) Sorry track but I think the road wins this race.
I was very fortunate to begin my 2015 campaign at the 3M Half Marathon two weeks ago and IN AUSTIN! Woo Woo! Although it was a very last minute decision- I trusted my gut and wanted to see what my body could do from a minor injury I had a few weeks prior. After a couple of days of rest and an immense amount of Anti-Gravity treadmill workouts (Thanks Steve), I was able to bounce back pretty quickly. I did my physical therapy exercises religiously and continued to stay positive to get me back on the ground. Patience is not my strong suit so this was extremely difficult. I’m SO glad I made the decision to race because I had the pleasure of running from start (almost to finish) with my former teammate, Allison Macsas. I could not have successfully accomplished this race without her by my side. With the friendly competition we had going on- we executed the race very well without even communicating to each other what we wanted to do beforehand. We simply raced and magic happened that day….We both achieved huge PRs in the half!
by Alli Mendez
Summer is officially over and we are at the beginning of my favorite time of the year – FALL TRAINING! Call me crazy, but it’s true. I have been on Rogue AC for 3 years and have witnessed the team evolve as is significantly evident by looking at the depth. As we begin a new season, we do so with lots of new talent. Although I’ve never been one that’s short on words, it’s difficult to describe the camaraderie that develops when you have a group of post-collegiate runners together, further enhancing each of our desires of reaching our next level.
Further enhancing each of our desires of reaching our next level…of hugs!
This fall season marks my 9th year of running. Though it could be viewed as a relatively short time, I’ve learned SO much over the years. It can best be described as a rollercoaster ride but it’s been the BEST ride ever! I do admit that I do have a love/hate relationship with running. I have dealt with the highs and celebrations of good races; the lows and tsunamis of tears that followed bad races, and I mustn’t forget the frustration and pain of various injuries. When I started running cross country and track during my junior of high school, I sensed (and hoped) I wouldn’t be hanging up my spikes once I graduated. Though I only ran cross country and track my last two years of high school, I might have not pursued running in college if it weren’t for my high school coach. Coach Toby Howell, was the first to get me excited about the sport. I distinctly remember he would often use yellow caution tape as a tool to join the slower runners to their faster counterparts to help push us! He encouraged a competitive spirit, yet was deliberate in making it fun. Cross country season was always exciting; I loved running through the dirt and mud, the smell of the fresh cut grass, and not to mention the steep hills! Next, switch gears to spring and track season, there is something about running around in circles that I loved, which is probably why I race the 10k, the longest race on the track!
Hook Them, Longhorns!
Fast forward to being a walk-on athlete at THE University of Texas. I was elated and extremely proud to be a part of the Women’s Cross Country & Track teams and in the capable hands of Coach Steve Sisson. His enthusiasm helped me maintain my excitement for running. Having trained with Steve for the past 7 years now (WOW!!), his energy and enthusiasm for this sport is truly what continues to catapult me further. One funny thing about Steve: he will get mad at me if I’m running too slow and he’ll also get mad if I’m running too fast! Seriously!?! Over the years, we have developed a unique and solid coach/athlete relationship; Steve can read me like a book and knows exactly which buttons to push if necessary. He knows when I’m happy; he knows when I’m grumpy. He even knows where to find me when I hide from him after a terrible race! It’s uncanny how “on target” his sixth sense can be. Looking back to my college years I would have laughed and said, “There’s no way!” if someone had told me I was going to be a professional runner. But since my very first day of training at UT, Steve has told me repeatedly that you can achieve anything you want if you just BELIEVE in yourself and are willing to do the work. Steve has seen and helped me develop into the runner I am today and I give him all the credit for my accomplishments thus far. His love of running is infectious and it shows in me and everyone he coaches.
This hug was brought to you by AT&T
Both Coach Howell and Steve have instilled an excitement and love for running that runs SO deep, that now I would like to pass on the same enthusiasm. In a conscious effort to give back to the Austin community, I have decided to make a few positive changes and seize the opportunity to share my passion for running with local Austin youths and possibly make a difference in their lives. In doing so, I have recently joined the coaching staff of the Marathon High program and plan to help all of the kiddos under my tutelage accomplish their goal of crossing the Austin Marathon finish line in February 2015! I want to share with them that running IS fun and finishing a marathon is a HUGE accomplishment. Not only will they learn the mechanics of running and benefits of a healthy lifestyle, but practical lessons in self-confidence, discipline and determination; skills that can be applied to their daily lives. This is the first year my schedule has allowed me be a part of the Marathon High program and I am extremely excited. I’ve seen a few of my fellow teammates (who are also coaches) participate every year and the excitement and euphoria they experience as they watch “their kids” cross the finish line is PRICELESS! I can’t wait!
Whether gearing up for my next workout, race, or my weekly Marathon High coaching, I sincerely love what I do and want to do BIG things. With a new season ahead I cannot wait to see what is in store and could not be more excited for Rogue AC this coming year!!! See you at the finish line!
by Ethan Doherty
One of my favorite quotes is that for every piece of heaven there is a little hell to pay. This is very true in the world of running, or at least in my world of running. Right after my first race of the outdoor season I started having pain in my left foot and it got to the point that I couldn’t even run ten feet without a sharp pain shooting through my foot. I first tried taking a few days off to try to see if the pain would go away, which it didn’t – it was just as bad! After finally learning how to log my Plus3 activities I went to see Pieter Kroon and Dr. Spears over at SPI. To no surprise at all, they were immediately able to help me figure out what had been going on and start fixing it. It was a good thing I went to see them when I did because without the physical therapy work it was not going to get any better. They told me if I was diligent about doing the exercises they gave me to do I would be back before the season was over.
So that’s exactly what I did! I started doing everything that I could to be back running in full swing as soon as possible! I was back up and running in just over two weeks, which isn’t bad, considering most of which was just the time it took me to actually go to SPI. At that point I took the time to refocus on my goals for the rest of the season; I had lost some ground from the time I had taken off but it was nothing that I couldn’t work through to get back where I was.
After a few weeks steadily working back into workouts to make sure that my foot didn’t start hurting again I was finally able to start picking up the pace on intervals without having pain during the workout or after I was done running. My workouts had been going fairly well but I wasn’t feeling like I was getting back to where I was before my foot started to hurt. Over the last two weeks, though, my workouts have seemed to change for the better. In fact, I feel more fit than I was even before my foot started to hurt. I feel like I finally made some gains in my training and also being mentally prepared to race. I’m at the point now where I can not only run the times in workouts, but also, when it comes time to race, fight and push through something I would usually over think and let know me out of the race. In my recent workouts the pace hasn’t felt drastically easier as much as I’ve just learned to accept that the way you feel when running fast isn’t necessarily going to be smooth sailing. I feel like I’m going into my next race ready to run fast and not worry so much about how I feel, but rather how I run the race that I know I can.
My next race is going to be at the Music City Distance Festival in Nashville, TN on June 7th. Many of my teammates are going to be running as well and I’m looking forward to making the trip out there with everyone. I’m hoping to see PR for me or at least a season best, but I’m also excited to just have a good time and cheer my teammates on. As I said earlier, sometimes there’s a little pain before you make any gain, because for every piece of heaven there’s a little hell to pay.
by Michelle Finn
When it comes to the 2014 track season, there are two very different Michelle Finns. The Michelle that isn’t fully back from injury, who has funny biomechanics, who has no base mileage, who’s too short to steeple, and who has just, quite simply, missed too much time to be fit for track season. This Michelle is already full of excuses, stripped from the miles of a runner, feels naked on the track, has low expectations, and has accepted the fact that this track season is over before it even starts.
Then there’s the Michelle that decided to come hang out today. The one that knows how to hustle! This Michelle has a new appreciation for running. She loves everything and everyone. This Michelle has adopted the “Adi England-Sisson” approach!
Adi attempting the spoon-nose trick.
Meet Adi. Ruth and Steve’s stud muffin dog. Named after Adidas, Rogue Athletic Club’s sponsor, Adi is a perfect advertisement for the brand’s slogan. A true believer that “impossible is nothing”. Adi does what she wants, when she wants. She has her food and eats it (or everyone else’s!) She sings the alphabet song in any order, and her iPod listens to her. If you know Adi England-Sisson, you already know that she doesn’t throw up; she only throws down! Unfortunately though, Adi’s seemingly endless energy gets her in sticky situations that sometimes lead to broken doggy legs and sprained doggy tails.
Back in February after one of my long runs, – a whopping 25 minutes – I was sitting on the edge of the Zilker Park volleyball courts listening to Steve talking to Andrew “Benny” Benford, who was also just coming back from injury. Steve was talking about how Adi had spent probably 80% of the last few months inside, and a lot of that was inside a little cage in their sitting room, resting her poor broken paw. Adi had recently been given the go-ahead to get out and about, and so Ruth allowed her to come for a run with the other dogs – the usual 10 miler! After months of confinement and no exercise, Adi was free to run with her people again. She didn’t think about how much more training the other’s had than she did, about how unfit she was, or about how she might get dropped and left behind. Adi just ran with them. Panting, yes, but panting with her people – just where she left off. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the last few weeks. Hustling and hanging on at the back of the pack, panting happily! The plan is to get back on the track fairly soon and mix it up in some real races. And this Adi-inspired Michelle can’t wait!
Oh and hey! Look who’s back in Austin for a little bit…and on two feet!
by Devin Monson
After college I knew I wanted to continue running but I was also faced with the sad realization that for most runners, running isn’t a viable option for income in the long run! So instead I went back home and coached at the University of North Dakota while still trying to continue hard training. I loved coaching and living in Grand Forks with two of my great friends, Dustin and Korczak. I had people to hang out with, a job that paid the bills and a path towards what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, but there was still something missing. It became reality one Saturday when I woke up at 7 am, groggy and sore. I had gone out with my friends the night before till 1 am enjoying their company along with some beverages; As I struggled through my long run alone I thought to myself, I’m wasting my chance to see how fast I can get by staying where I am comfortable.
Fast forward a year and a half…
Now I’m in my second house in Austin – no longer living in my one bedroom apartment – surrounded by people with the same passion as me. My two floor house has six guys and one girl who all run and encourage all the things you need to be successful in running. Instead of going out at 10 or 11 at night, as I would have in the past, we take the city by storm right at dinner time and are back home hitting the hay before the evening news is done.
Surrounding yourself with people who have the same passion, desire and dreams as you can only make achieving your goals easier. But my running community extends far beyond my house and I am constantly reminded how great running can be by the Rogues I see in the store every week. The owners of Rogue have always put great effort into building and maintaining a big sense of community around the training groups and you can feel it when people ask how your workout went, complement you on your last race, and even inquire as to how your day is going. Community like this makes it hard to fail in running, even when races aren’t going as well as you’d like, and it’s tough to ask for much more than that.
*Update on last few races and upcoming races*
Austin American Statesman 10k – 2nd place in my Cap 10k debut!
Mt. Sac Relays 10k – DNF after a bad calf spasm.
Silicon Labs Sunshine Run 10k – 1st place!
This week I’ll be headed up to North Dakota for first time since September to race the Fargo Half Marathon on May 10th, 2014.
by Anne Jones
While my teammates were crushing old PRs this past weekend at the Stanford Invitational, I spent a long weekend at home in Houston. Although the weekend was filled mostly with studying, I returned to my old stomping grounds and enjoyed two of the best runs I have ever had. My long run on Sunday night along Buffalo Bayou and into Downtown, though a little drizzly, was beautiful. It was the first time I had run there since Houston began its renovations and I took many detours to explore all the new paths offered. I ran Monday through Hermann Park, which is my favorite place in the whole city, and the beautiful weather coupled with my love for Hermann were ideal for a magnificent run. The amount of enjoyment I got out of all three of my runs this weekend was actually astonishing to me and made me realize what I had let running become to me as of late. It had become just another checkbox on my daily to-do lists. I squeeze runs and lifts and physical therapy and core exercises into my schedule whenever I find time, and I have viewed them all as chores for several years now as a result. It has been a long time since I have enjoyed training as its own process instead of just enjoying the endpoint. It took a weekend back to my roots to make me see this. So my cliché lesson for the month is to stop and smell the roses, literally, while running and training. Or, more appropriately for running in the spring in Houston, stop and smell the azaleas (which are honestly much more worth stopping for anyway.)
Nothing like your roots to revitalize your running
A rare humid day in Houston
Often mistaken for the Washington Monument and Reflecting Pool, actually just a nice park in Houston.
Otherwise training has been going infinitely better since I last wrote. Although I missed out on reaping the benefits of a lot of our base work this winter, my body feels back to normal now. I have been able to finish a couple of workouts that I know I never would have been able to do in the past and I feel motivated and hungry again. I raced a 1500 m at the Victor Lopez Classic a couple of weeks ago, which was my first race in just under a year. I would say I was a little disappointed with my efforts (there was much more rust to be busted than I expected) but it was my fastest opener ever so I know I am in a good spot regardless. Unfortunately my pharmacy school class schedule is preventing me from traveling to any of the big meets during the semester, so I plan on racing mostly local meets until potentially flying out to Nashville for a race in June. Next weekend I will race the 800 m at the Texas Invitational, and I am sure it will be bittersweet to race on my old track but without my old Texas uniform. But don’t worry, I’ll be sure to stop and smell some azaleas before then.
by Kristen Findley
I told myself a million times it was going to be ok if I didn’t get all my miles in, if I consumed above average amounts of chocolate, waffles, and beer, and if my sleep fell short of the normal 7.5-8 hours. I wasn’t going to Belgium to train; I was going to spend a few days with my mom at an international conference for a club that she is heavily involved in. Despite my excitement for 1) hanging out with Mama Fin and 2) visiting my 32nd country, I felt anxious as I boarded the plane about temporarily deviating from the typical runner life-style.
I had little idea of what to expect, but what I did know had me intrigued. I knew that the club was called FAWCO (Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas), that my mom was treasurer on the board, that the conferences took place annually in a different country each year, and that my mom always returned from the conferences raving about how inspired and empowered she felt. What could possibly come of a weekend spent with 100 middle aged women and me in Brussels, Belgium!?
Mama Fin and me throwing back some Belgian suds
The conference was comprised of a series of meetings regarding the happenings of 2013, the agenda for 2014, motivational speakers, fundraising events, and workshops. Although my mom had explained to me what FAWCO was all about on several occasions, it took being there and experiencing it to really get a feel for it. FAWCO is a 2 fold organization comprised of representatives from 33 different countries. First, they work to resolve issues pertaining to citizenship and voting rights issues for Americans living abroad. Second, they are a not-for-profit NGO with consultive status to the United Nations that works to alleviate global issues such as human rights violations.
Every year, each of the clubs that belongs to FAWCO partakes in their own philanthropic projects unique to their area’s specific needs, in addition to an overarching target project addressed by FAWCO as a whole. Last year, the target project was to dig wells in Cambodia so that the local population had access to clean water. This year, the target project is to help transition women who have been subjected to sex trafficking into a self-sufficient livelihood.
I was extremely moved to see so many passionate women willing to give their time and money, and be so proactive and creative in working towards what they believed in. I understood entirely the feelings my mom had tried to convey in years past and it was amazing for us to experience it together. The trip made me realize how easy it is to get all wrapped up in your own world and forget about the less fortunate out there. Putting it all into perspective, missing a few days of running WASN’T the worst thing in the world.
Lastly, I wanted to note another parallel experience I had while there: parent-child role reversal. No, I wasn’t telling my mom that maybe her skirt was just a little too short, telling her that filet mignon isn’t pronounced how it looks (fil-LET MIG-none), or explaining which wine goes with which type of meat. I was there supporting her in her passion and seeing her with her friends in her element. Parents come to our graduations and our track meets, but it is all the more rare that we attend their functions. I proudly watched my mom gracefully deliver a speech to a roomful of people, dress up in full-costume for the themed live auction, and be a general embodiment of class and fun over the course of the weekend.
I am so glad to have shared that experience with my mama (in addition to mussels, waffles, chocolate, a couple pints of beer, and many a good laugh).
Oh— and I DID manage to run every day I was there 🙂
Me (left) and my ‘buddy’ (right). I was assigned as a first-time conference attendee at the around the world themed live auction.
P.S. Please, please check out the link below to learn about this year’s target project!!!! You can donate used bras to the Free the Girls Organization so that former victims of sex-trafficking can re-sell them.