Blazer Blogs 2009

Nov. 17, 2009

Now that the season has drawn to a close, I thought that the best way to summarize our collective experiences as a team would be to highlight some of the "award-winning" moments and general goings-on that happened during the 2009 Blazer XC season. While my opinions may be highly biased based on my own experiences, I think many of these situations hold true for everyone on the team.

Best Way To Make Friends: As highlighted at the Griak Invitational in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the best way to make friends coincided with the most innovative use of hotel towels. Having arrived to the course lacking a tarp, our bleach-white hotel towels did NOT prove to be very effective when using them on the rather muddy ground. They DID prove effective however, by facilitating friendship with another team, who happened to have a gigantic tarp, and were willing to share.

Runner Up: Running through Five Points at 6 a.m.

Worst Way To Make Friends With Another Team: In retrospect, doing repeat laps of the UAB soccer complex the morning after weeks of terrible rain (and subsequently destroying a corner of the field), was probably not one of our better inter-sport bonding ideas.

Best Trend: "Breaking it Down"

Worst Trend: Running in ever-increasing darkness at 6 a.m. (Note: this was recently solved by Daylight Savings Time).

Best Travel Experience: Our bus driver en route to the Furman Invitational in South Carolina was hands down the best chauffer we've had as a team. Randy went above and beyond the call of duty, going so far as to "scope out" parking spots closer to the start line with a bicycle he keeps stowed underneath the bus for just such incidences. Not only that, but having both satellite and WiFi on the bus was something to be celebrated (once we discovered it, of course).

Worst Travel Experience: All witticisms aside, getting rear-ended in Minnesota was a definite downturn to an already stressful travel day.



Worst Way to Prepare for a Long Run: As highlighted in an earlier Blazer Blog by Kristina Vaughn, the worst way to prepare for a long run is clearly by living in a third world country for a night. Sleeping on rocks and fasting for hours on end are not conducive to a two hour trek through Oak Mountain.

Best Weather: November! Glorious sunshine, moderate temperatures and light refreshing breezes have made up the month of November. Being Canadian, this couldn't be more of an amazing feeling. I'm outside and it's not snowing; 'nuff said.

Most Recurrent/Annoying Weather: October. From what I remember, Birmingham was under a gigantic, bleak and relentless rain cloud for the entire month of October. Not once was practice cancelled. Our shoes were constantly sopping wet, despite our best efforts to stuff them with newspaper in between runs. To be honest, it's hard enough to get out of bed at 5:30 a.m. even when the rain isn't violently assaulting the entire outdoors.

Runner Up: Humid days in August

Best Way To Spend A Sunday Morning: SLEEPING IN. On those few and far between mornings where we didn't have a long run, the most wonderful feeling in the world was to not set an alarm clock, wake up at whatever time felt right, have a leisurely breakfast and spend the rest of the day nursing your battered and sore body back to running-form.

Worst Way To Spend A Sunday Morning: (Personal Experience only) On the elliptical in the training room, when the TV's aren't working and you forgot your Ipod... for two consecutive hours.

Best Post-Run Snack/Meal: Pick-nicking in the parking lot! During our pre-season practices we were treated to breakfasts of Panera Bread bagels, fruit and coffee (wonderful, wonderful coffee) after our morning runs. Not only was the food delicious, but the time we got to spend chatting together after a summer apart was great for reconnecting with the team.

Runner Up: Recovery Drinks, coffee

Best Place to Wipe Out On An Escalator: While personal injury is NEVER condoned on trips, if you had to make a choice, Mall of America would be the place to do it. When "someone" had a small mishap on one of the many moving staircases, the medical emergency crew was there in a flash. No worries about having to pick yourself up after a minor scrape here! We all secretly wish Oak Mountain came with an aptly equipped crew such as the mall did.

Best Thing To Do For Your College: Run 15:50 and then donate "one milllllllllion dollars".

Worst Interaction With Nature: Colleen and the fire ants.

Best Way To Be Sure You're Cheered For: Equip small children with gigantic, team colored noisemakers.

Worst Coach (canine): While Coach Cass is loved and adored by the team, her downright poor coaching skills cause her to be named worst coach. Constantly tripping runners and distinct favoritism among the athletes cannot be made up for in unbridled enthusiasm. She also has a habit of bringing foul odors to practice, but we're all slightly guilty of that by the time the workout is over.

Biggest Claim To Fame In Minneapolis: "And in Box 34, the UAB Blazers - coached by Blake Boldon!"

Best Porta-Potty Setup: The hosts of the Conference USA race this year (Houston) stepped up porta-potty policing to a whole new level when they took the initiative to assign each team their own specific porta-potty in the athlete village. Although the system ultimately broke down, I see this as one small step towards finally eradicating the ever-present toilet-paper shortages and ridiculously long pre-race lineups.

Worst Porta-Potty Setup: The worst bathroom experience came in Huntsville, where there was not only a shortage of toilets, but the ones that were closest didn't flush and the others were a sizable jog away. End result: scaling a fence and ducking away into some bushes just before the race, which is not exactly an easy feat in spikes and spandex

Most Overrated Life Goal: France. We are so over France. Best Addition To Assigned Team Gear: The hood on our rain jackets. Last year's rain suit lacked this, for reasons beyond my scope of logic.

Worst Way To Signal That A Race Is Starting: A random siren that NO ONE is expecting. Coolest Fans: Teammates' parents who show up to cheer for their daughter, but also know who EVERYONE else on the team is and how their season is going. Your support and enthusiasm is appreciated at every race!

Best Things To Be Known For: Being the team with the snazziest warm-up gear and the most well-rehearsed pre-race cheer.

Worst Thing To Be Known For: Being the girl who comes from the same country as Nickelback.

Best Part Of It All: Knowing that through everything, the good and bad, muddy and disgusting, hilarious and quirky, random and meaningful, there's a group of nine other people who know EXACTLY what you're going through and they're right with you, stride for stride, every step of this ridiculous adventure we're on.

And so we continue on: Training for track season starts Monday morning at 6 a.m.!

Rhiannon Johns