Editor's Note: Cross country junior Conor Phelan will take some time over the course of the 2011 season to share his thoughts and experiences in an ongoing blog that offers readers an inside look into life as a Spider both on and off the course. Below is his latest entry of the season.
This season has gone by in the blink of an eye. I already face the fact that I only have one more cross country season left in my life. Sure, I am going to keep running and competing after I graduate from Richmond, but it is going to feel completely different. After being on a cross-country team for the past nine years, it is hard to come to terms with the conclusion of another season. It seems like just yesterday that I met the freshmen (Paul, Billy, Matt and Andrew), who I have come to know so well.
This past weekend marked our final competition of the season, as we traveled out to Louisville, Ky., for the NCAA Southeast Regional. We placed 19th and Chris (York) and Jason (Skipper) both had solid races for the team up front. As his roommate, I know Chris pretty well. With his time of 32:03 on the 10K course, it seemed fitting for him to end his season with such a strong showing. Chris understands that the little decisions you make outside of practice affect you on race day.
He and I were able to get into a better core workout routine this past season because after our second runs we would both force ourselves to spend a few minutes doing abdominal exercises knowing that it is easier to tolerate physical pain when it is shared with someone else. Jason ran well in the second half of the race, which allowed him to help set the pace for those of us (Billy, Matt, Adam and I) following in his wake and finish with a quick time of 32:17.
The trip to and from Louisville presented some difficulties for the team, but it wasn't anything a game of Pictionary and free Wi-Fi could not make easier. (Stephanie Paradis and I won the series by the way.) We sat in the Richmond Airport for about three hours on Thursday night due to a delay, which then caused us to have to stay at a hotel in Atlanta because we missed our connection. And on the way back in Charlotte, N.C., there isn't much worse after a long day of racing and traveling than sitting on the tarmac for 45 minutes when all you want to do is get home to bed.
On Sunday, Kyle Ragan and I set out for a 30-minute run to get our legs moving and help flush the race out of the system. As we crossed Bandy Field where we do the majority of our interval workouts, we passed by two men walking their unleashed dogs. One of the dogs was a pretty large Doberman, and after leaping in my direction it turned to run at Kyle and proceeded to bite him right on the side of his hip. In the moment, Kyle and I were flustered and kept our focus on distancing ourselves from the dog rather than exchanging words with the owner. It wasn't until we got back to our apartment that we found his hip to be a bloody mess with two deep gouges from the dog's teeth. Needless to say, Kyle has changed his mind about getting a Rottweiler when he is older.
Thanksgiving is next week, and I don't think I am alone in needing a break from the seemingly endless amount of projects, papers and tests that are being thrown our way. I look forward to getting home and seeing my family (and my non-vicious dog, Hudson, who is just a lazy black lab).
I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to document the ins and outs of the cross country season this year. As always, I want to thank the parents (Skippers and Fayettes) who were able to make it down for the race on Saturday. You have all been wonderfully supportive, and we as a team always enjoy seeing familiar faces at our competitions. Happy Thanksgiving!