We returned from our trip to Appalachia and found ourselves on a campus still slowly waking up from the summer’s haze to embrace the start of a new semester. The seemingly ubiquitous construction around Duke began to subside while students gradually trickled in, busily finding new homes for their overstuffed suitcases, minifridges, and heaps of dorm items from Target. Having dealt with moving in prior to our trip, we got to sit back and enjoy the last rays of our summer break.
For this glorious six-day period, we were solely athletes. Aside from practice, our schedules lay wide open. We capitalized on the spare time we had to get in plenty of active isolated stretching, foam rolling, ice bathing, and sleep. These were especially deserving causes, as Coach Kevin found the time useful for laying on some hard workouts and long miles. Our muscles were grateful for the extra love and attention.
And still, we had hours left over. Some of us didn’t even know what to do with all the abounding time we were left with after practice. A teammate joined me for dinner one night and proudly announced she’d just come from watching fifteen straight episodes of Parks and Recreation. Relaxation was certainly the theme of the week as we kicked back and enjoyed our final homework-free days.
However, all good things (especially those a little too good to be true) must eventually come to an end. Before we knew it, it was time to return to reality and again familiarize ourselves with our roles as both students and athletes. We hit the ground running (literally) on our first day of classes with an early morning long run at the delightfully hilly Umstead Park. It seemed Coach Kevin took pleasure in thoroughly exhausting us before we headed off to our first classes of the semester. It’s safe to bet this season won’t be short on opportunities for further developing our mental toughness.
As we were reminded this past week, it is quite tough to balance our academic and athletic endeavors. Readings and problem sets started spilling over onto us and after long days of classes, double runs, and strength training, we found ourselves pulling out our laptops to open up Microsoft Word instead of Netflix.
Tough as the role of student-athlete is, it’s one we thrive on and embrace. As we settle into our new routines, the charge forward continues. We know that chasing success as a team means handling the added workload from classes without diverting our attention from committing to our goals and seeing through our vision.
We anticipate an exciting start to our season with Saturday’s The Bull City Classic. Whether racing or cheering from the sidelines, we’re all looking forward to showcasing our Blue Devil pride.
To our friends, family, and fans out there: we thank you for your continued support and invite you to follow Duke Women’s Cross Country as we embark on a season that has great potential to be a very memorable one. Stay tuned, there is plenty of excitement to come!