It’s Great To Be Back

Ben Bly ’08 — Without any more delays, I’d like to finally add my two cents to the hopefully entertaining ramblings that have filled our cross-country page thus far. As one of four returning seniors running for the Red Pack this season, there is more excitement and anticipation than any of the previous years combined. While there are many reasons for such high expectations, I am extremely excited just to be able to train, compete, and be a part of the Wabash Cross Country program for one final season. Due to a season-ending stress fracture in the fall and an opportunity to study abroad in England for six months in the spring, it has been exactly one year from this previous weekend since I have been able to compete for Wabash College. Despite a fear that using tacky clichés like, “You never miss something until its gone,” and “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” I can’t help but to have those feelings when I think about how much I missed training, racing, and simply being a part of the team day in and day out while I was injured and abroad. Needless to say, it’s great to be back.
On that note, simply returning to the team has only been half of the struggle; I still have to ensure my fitness level is up to par with the demands of a hard working program and the challenges from our enthusiastic coach. Fortunately for me, I probably benefited from missing the track season while I was abroad because it gave my leg plenty of time to recover and to safely build my mileage back up for cross country. On the other hand, getting ready for my first race back with the team in over a year has caused me to think about the big differences between training by yourself as I did abroad and all summer, and training with an established program that is preparing to compete in a tough conference at the collegiate level. Even though I have been training hard with the aim of returning to Wabash ready to help the Red Pack this season, there are still some lingering insecurities in my fitness and training level. Even though our first race of the season is only a Hokum Karem and not our traditional five-mile cross-country distance, it has not eliminated all of the uncertainties of returning to competition. Nonetheless, I am excited to return to the racing scene with the belief that I am on track and that my fitness is almost back to racing form.
Despite all of the miles logged and various workouts completed, this rediscovered self-assurance has mostly come from a hill workout that our team took on last week. As a team, we usually consider ourselves fortunate to have many opportunities to travel off campus to nearby Shades State Park or Turkey Run State Park. These excursions offer a nice way to break up the weekly mileage and sometimes monotonous scenery around town. However, this particular day we were going to Shades to do repeats on the Trail #4 hill, which consists of 800 meters of steep uphill goodness. To give you an idea of this hill’s level of difficulty, it is best described as a death march, and that’s if you’re having a good workout day. As usual, every member of our team was up to the challenge of anywhere from three to six repetitions of the devastating hill on a brutally hot and humid Indiana afternoon.
Because hills have always been one of my strengths, I decided that I was going to attack this workout with hopes of getting in a great workout as well as proving to myself that the power and toughness was still there. When all was said and done, I had completed six hill repeats alongside the group of our top-returning runners. Needless to say everyone was exhausted, but we were feeling great about the days workout with the knowledge that it would pay off in time for the Hokum Karem, which is our only home meet of the year. Personally, I was able to walk away from the hill with the confidence that I’m in good shape and will continually improve to where I want to be and where the team needs me to be as the season progresses. Even though I may not be as fast as I would like, with the aid of a tough hill and a great workout, I’m sure that I’m well on my way. And this is why it great to be back with the Pack.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.