RALEIGH, N.C. - Meredith College cross country sophomore Illa Jones will contribute a regular blog series this fall to give fans a unique perspective from an Avenging Angel student-athlete.
It's exactly 19.5 hours until the Barton race….and I'm sitting in the library scrambling to finish my homework at 12 a.m. Running in college is very different from running in high school, or at least I think so.
Classes are much more difficult, which means much longer nights. This makes getting up at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays such a struggle. This morning was especially bad. I laid in my bed when the alarm went off right at 6:30 a.m. and thought of how I could find a way to just stay in my warm, comfortable bed. I just closed my eyes but was ridden with guilt so I forced myself out of bed to put on my practice clothes and shoes.
Of course I was running late, so I swiped my cam card off of my desk and sprinted down to the track leaving my room at 6:58. It's always funny to see how many of my other teammates do the same thing when we get to the track all out of breath.
We are told to run just 20 minutes since we have a meet tomorrow, so we begin our run towards Hillsborough Street. Lacey, Allie and I are all in the front at first, so we executively decide to run the "waffle house run." This route is just a quick run through State's campus, which is much, much better than running a straight down and back on Ridge Road. Trust me.
Although I'm pretty sure I'm still sleeping, I chug along with my teammates down Beryl and then up Gorman. When we return, we do just simple circuit training with Coach Barnes.
My absolute favorite part of morning practices is breakfast. We normally finish up around 8, which is still too early for every other Meredith Angel to get out of her bed so……no lines! I run to the omelet line and the chef just has to look at me and knows my order: egg whites, spinach, mushrooms, and cheese. I hop on over to get a big glass of chocolate milk and join my other teammates.
I think I mainly enjoy breakfast because I get to spend quality time with my teammates. We are so close that it feels like a giant family. This I feel is the major difference between high school running and college running.
Don't get me wrong, I was very close with my high school team too (and still am because I still race against them!!) But there's just something different about your college team. I think it's because when your family can't make your college meets, your teammates fill their role and cheer you on maybe even louder than your cheerleader-of-a-mom. It feels a lot more encouraging when 25 people are cheering your name rather than just three family members.
We all encourage each other so much because we know that we are the people that we are living with and go home too. That is very different from high school. And it's even better at Meredith because it's like I have 30 other sisters.
So I guess that makes Coach Amy the mom and crazy Coach K that odd uncle?? I'm not sure how that works, but I do know that my new cross country family definitely helps fill that void of my family's absence. They are the ones that remind me to eat right and sleep and drink water.
The captains play a much bigger role too with hosting team dinners to playing the role of that really cool older cousin that will bail you out of sticky situations with no questions asked. I would be absolutely lost without my XC family. They're the sisters I never had! :)