In Her Own Words: Grace Iltis - Preseason

Hey xc peeps! I hope your Friday afternoon, pre-conference-championship races went superbly today, it was a great day for it and a good time to relax after festivals.

Today, I completed my first race since November of 2017. Don't really know how to describe my experience, except as this:

Lots happened during this week. I ran my first two hard practices of the season; both included intervals on a track, which I am not quite used to. All of my runs prior to these have been recovery distance runs, so it was a combination of feeling mental, physical, and emotional overwhelmingness. Yesterday, the day before my race, I started to feel a bit terrified. My body was still recovering from these new workouts, and having not run a race in about a year, I had to sort of retrain my mind into racing mode.

I spent about three hours going back and forth in my head last night about how I would approach this race: would it be a treat-it-like-a-training-run sort of day, or a lemme-see-what-I-can-do day? Well, today was sort of a combination of both of those things. Being rather tight and tired from my practices, I was very nervous for how it would turn out.

To summarize the story, I fell and skinned my knee in some mud; dropped out for about twenty seconds; finished about four and a half minutes slower than last season, and did a number to my back... but I finished. That feeling of accomplishing something you thought was completely impossible just three months ago is comparable to no other. Today, I finished the race with a smile on my face. Haven't done that since PR-ing last season.

There is a chance that competing through the rest of the season is a no-go. Being a little late to the game and realizing that my back might not be fully up to the task has sort of led me to this. However, I hope that this says to some of you that while you may not be having the best season of your life, you can be content following your own plan and working with what you have. Having an injury is kind of a roller-coaster of emotions and feelings, but you learn a lot from it.

Thanks for reading, and I hope your week went awesome!! Keep being positive - Grace