Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Good Bye, Coach

"Thank you," will never be enough.  In just one semester he has done so much for me, for the women's team, and for the entire cross country program as a whole.  He is responsible for getting me running again and, most of all, giving me hope.  For weeks, months, no one could help me.  No one believed in me.  "Choose another sport," I was told.  "I can't do anything else for you."  No one stuck by my side.  He never gave up on me.  Next season, I will live up to his expectations.   I will show him how invaluable his time with me was.  I will miss him greatly. 

Thanks, Coach.  You may never know how much you have given us. 

Workout today:

1 set 15 reps in gym
Abs (100 of these crazy ones with a weight ball)
8 minute walk warm-up
5 minute run, 1 minute rest (repeat for 43 minutes total)

Friday, March 25, 2011


Yesterday:  Abs
                  Lift: 1 set of 12 reps in the gym
                  8 minute warm-up walk
                  4 minute run, 2 minute walk for 42 minutes total (treadmill)

Today:       Abs
                 Lift: 2 sets of 15 reps in the gym
                 Bike for 60 minutes

I have been feeling pretty good recently, which means 5 minutes running, 1 walking next week!  So excited!

If this isn't reason to get stronger (even though I am not a huge fan of lifting), I don't know what is:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Bend in the Road

"A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn."

A quote to think about from my team's captain given early yesterday.  Now, I understand why.  The man who has coached the team for the past fourteen years is moving on to another school and another job.  Anyone can tell that his heart is broken about leaving, but he must because he needs to support his family.  In just a few months of him taking on the women's team, we have all grown greatly.  I have started running, gotten stronger, and gained hope.  No one knows what the future holds, but we will be strong because we have each other.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Starkey Sunrises

The 8,000 acre tract of the 18,000 acre preserve is, most definitely, my favorite place to run and explore.  J. B. Starkey Wilderness Park is a hidden jewel of a county park located in Pasco.  The people are great company, the facilities are top-notch, and the land is spectacular.

Recently, the mornings at the park have been cool and the land blanketed in a heavy fog, which creates stunning sunrises over the open scrub.  Many people come to Florida to watch sunsets over beaches, but I believe that nothing can even rival the views from Starkey.  Currently, Starkey unlatches the gates at 6:30am, so there is plenty of time to start you run before the temperature rises.  A convenient place to park your car if you plan on running trails is at the corral by the horse trails, as opposed to the parking lots by the shelters.  Usually the bikers and runners who use the paved bike path park in those lots. 
The horse trails tend to be less crowded and more rugged than the hiking trails near the pavilions and parking lots.  Also, there is a great group of regulars who use the dirt corral lot.  Many walkers with their dogs and a select few runners take to the trails every morning.
Image from the SWFWMD Starkey Park website

The maps of the horse trails are very simplistic.  There are many, many unmarked trails in this part of the park.  My best advice for not getting lost is to make out-and-back routes as opposed to loops.  If you do decided to make a circle, take the 1.9 mile or 3 mile loop.  These are fairly well marked paths that overlap for much of distance.  Take your time and explore the land and enjoy the little twists and turns.  I have been running in this park for years and I am only familiar with a little more than the front half. 
Trails are marked with signs, colored posts, and painted trees

The majority of the horse paths are double track and are usually sandy.  Occasionally you will find a grassy stretch, which turns your summer workout into a fun mud run.  During March, all of the paths seem to be dry. 
I have visited many county and state parks in Florida, and I can definitively say that J. B. Starkey Wilderness Park stands above the rest.  Although the new payment system is certainly a change, I will continue to support this park so that it can stay open to the public.  I am applying for a yearly pass that allows me to visit any Pasco park for free.  The passes are $60.00, which is quite reasonable since I know that I could spend more than that in one summer with the $2.00 a visit fee.  Please support the parks when you visit.  We have the power to preserve this special piece of land.
On a side note, I got the photos that I will use for my painting.  I am excited to begin working on it on Tuesday!

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Morning at the Creek

View of the home, reconstructed barn, and part of the grove

I am a little ashamed that I have driven by the brown sign on 301 so many times and not investigated Cross Creek and the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park.  Today, I took the time to drive down that county road.

I turned into the park around 9:45am and the parking lot was nearly empty.  Three older couples had just arrived, but were down the trail ahead of me.  We seemed to be the first guests in the park today.

Park guests are greeted by one of my favorite quotes
The park is open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm, although tours of the house are only given on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, so plan accordingly.  Beginning at 10:00, 11:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00, the tours take guests around to the front of the house and through all of the rooms and porches.

Nancy, a self-described snowbird, was the guide this morning.  She was a wonderful story teller and was open to chatting about Marjorie and the history of Florida in the 1930s and 1940s.  The interior of Marjorie's home was just as I expected it to be: charmingly decorated, flooded with warm Florida light, and engulfed in the sweet, familiar scent of orange blossoms.  It was perfect.  My $3 detour was excellent; I highly recommend visiting the MKR Historic State Park.

I thought that I would be able to take photos of the interior, but cameras are not allowed. 

These are the pictures that I took before I was told of the rule.

Because I am currently unable to run on trails, I did not pack my running shoes.  I am sure that I will revisit to the park when I am healthy so that I can explore the paths on the property.  Nancy believes that there are about two miles of trails.  The surrounding area is just as beautiful as Marjorie described, so you could easily get in a scenic long run while visiting Cross Creek. 
I still had a few hours of driving ahead of me, so I decided to save the visit to Marjorie’s gravesite for another trip.  I look forward to returning to this little piece of old Florida. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Progress and Paintings

Yesterday I ran four miles on the treadmill!  Well, I am still run/ walking, but I covered some ground.  After an eight minute walking warm up, I ran for four minutes at eight minute pace, walked two minutes, ran four, and continued the sequence for just over forty minutes total.  Even though I feel horribly out of running shape, running more than I walked is a great mental boost.

Although I am making progress, my coach still advised me not to run on the trails at home.  I understand completely, but I had to ask so I would not be as tempted to run when I get there.  I do not want to push it.  I will ramble instead. 

On a side note, I was given my next painting assignment today (my major is in the art field), which requires me to abstract some sort of space.  A number of the paintings will be large scale and others will be miniature.  All of the paintings should relate to each other in some way.  I was inspired by the work of Lilan Garcia-Roig.


Take the time to look at her works under the Florida category.  Stunning!  Be sure to check out the images of the details.  How amazing is the texture?  And the color!  I am going to photograph scenes of my Cross Creek so that I can attempt something similar back in the school’s studio. 


In just a few days I will be homebound!  Detours to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ home and gravesite are a definite possibility for this trip.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Story

Right now, I would do just about anything for one more long, pain-free run through my Cross Creek. 

This is my story of the last six months, and I will try to spare you the details:

On Sept. 4th, at the end of a 7ish mile out-and-back beach run I felt an odd pain high up in my left hip.  It was enough that I mentioned it to one of my friends on the run.  I felt really achy all weekend, a feeling I would get used to, but still ran my usual Monday track workout.

The pain never went away (no matter how much I ignored it).  Since this was at the very beginning of my racing season, I did not want to believe I had a problem.  Finally realizing that this could be something bad,I decided to see my athletic trainers.  They insisted it was something muscular that needed to be worked out.   

I ran, with the encouragement of my trainers, until Sept. 24th when I physically could not anymore.  I finished my race that day purely because of my hardheadedness.  I have never NOT finished a race before and I have no intention of ever doing so.

After weeks of stretching, foam-rolling, resting, biking, and swimming, I tried running again.  I was instructed to try two miles easy every other day, which was managable if I crept along at 9 minute pace and avoided bridges.  I never progressed from that point.  I went to see a local orthopedic who took x-rays, felt around, and diagnosed me with trochanteric bursitis.  That day I got a cortisone injection.  For the next four days I could barely move, let alone run.  With high hopes, I attempted to run when I was told I should be able to, but I could not even make two miles.  I literally could not limp any longer.  The tears came. 

I stopped running altogether and the trainers searched for answers.  Was it arthritis?  A tear?  The doctor I saw earlier prescribed me two weeks of an anti-inflammatory.  I asked for an MRI, which showed little as far as inflammation.  Nothing was wrong, he told me, my hips were healthy.  Then, I was told that nothing else could be done for me because there wasn't a problem.  I felt that everything was hopeless.  Why did no one believe me?  Would I ever be able to run again?  Forget racing, I just wanted to run in the woods once more. 

I went home for the holidays and saw another doctor who, after looking at my x-rays and MRI, diagnosed me with trochanteric bursitis.  Again.  This time I was prescribed three months of anti-inflammatories.  He also explained to me that my hips were different.  I am a tall, lanky person and my hips point inward more than the average person.  This makes my feet slightly pigeon toed.  It also makes my IT band have to do a little extra work and wrap around the outside of my leg instead of being in a straight line, like most people.  This causes it to be tighter in general and makes me more prone to bursitis. 

Currently, I have an experienced coach on my side.  I have continued the foam-rolling, taken up biking and indoor rowing (which I really love), and am working on gaining strength.  Just last week I started run/ walking on a treadmill.  And not running 9 minute pace.  This week I was doing 7:30, and although I am clearly out of running shape, the motions felt glorious.  I have never been so happy to be on a treadmill in my life!

Now, I am completely focused on my recovery.  I WILL run again.  Actually, I will be home for a few days in exactly a week, which means a visit to my Cross Creek is in order.  I hope that I will be able to run/ walk.
Just a little bit will do me a lot of good.