Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mt. SAC Relays

            From Tuesday through Sunday I was in Walnut, CA for the Mt. SAC relays and I am only a couple days away from hopping back on a plane and heading to Palo Alto, CA for my next track meet so I will give you a brief update on my first steeple of the season.
            I raced in the elite section Thursday night and the race felt great until the last two laps when my legs did not want to jump anymore and lactic acid was setting in. At the start of the race things felt very effortless and I thought I would have no problem getting a PR. But since I was unable to practice any steeple technique due to injury earlier in the year I soon discovered my jumps were subpar.
            Levi took video of all of my water jumps and I was not pushing off the barrier. I was landing very deep and coming to a stop in the water which wasted a lot of time and energy! The majority of my hurdles were not that smooth either. I noticed I was taking off close to the hurdles and stuttering a little due to running in a pack and not being able to see the hurdles.
            The good thing about all this is that my fitness is there and I just need to work on technique a bit more. I do not have a lot of time before Payton Jordan but I believe I can fix some of my issues and run faster. I will just need to be focused going into every barrier and remember what I need to do to execute proper technique. 


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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stanford Season Opener

            This past weekend I traveled down to Stanford University to open up my outdoor track season with a 5k. Going into the race I didn’t know what to really expect. I spent the month of March cross training and though I knew I had lost some fitness I still entertained lofty ideas of me running a PR. But realistically my goal was to run 16:40. This time is not my PR but it was a start. 
            Last year I ran 16:39 at the same meet. I made some very critical mistakes last year, which resulted in me running a time slower than my workouts predicted. So after a month of “rest” (as I like to view it,) I felt it was a reasonable goal to run 16:40.
            The day of the race I felt pretty good. It was a beautiful day and Levi and I went to a local park for him to do his “shake out.” Levi’s shake out day is much different than mine. As a distance runner I typically run some easy miles then do 4x200m strides at race pace. Levi’s shake out involves going to a local park, doing a very short jog, then playing on the playground equipment where he does flips and other crazy acrobatic tricks.
            I love being able to travel to meets with him. He keeps me relaxed and having fun. When I am off on my own I can sometimes over think things and make the race out to be a bigger deal than it is. Over the years I have learned to relax more and enjoy the moment and gift it is for me to be able to participate in my sport.
            Watching Levi on his shakeout was pretty entertaining. When he got to the playground immediately a little girl came up to him and started chatting with him. She was from a different country so neither of us had any idea what she was saying but she started throwing a ball to him and it was clear she wanted to play. After this Levi started to monkey around on the swings. The moment he got on a swing two young boys came racing over to him and fought each other to get the swing next to him. This of course turned into everyone jumping out of the swings and watching Levi do tricks. Levi had two more die hard followers and wherever he went on the playground they were right there watching. Eventually their mother said it was time to go and I watched them start to leave. It looked like they were trying to convince their mom they should stay and sure enough after getting about 50 meters away they came sprinting back. Looks like the mom thought Levi wasn’t too bad of an influence.
            Eventually the time came for me to head to the track. I got there early enough to watch the steeple races. Watching everyone perform so well made me eager to race the event.  I wanted to jump in and just do it! But I have to fight such impulses because my coach and I have a plan. I am going to give my leg a little more time to get stronger and race the steeple at Mt. SAC on April 19th
As I started my warm up my body didn’t feel great. I felt a bit sluggish but as I continued on my body started to wake up a bit. My legs actually felt pretty good but my breathing was a little rough due to a cold.
At 7:20p.m. I was toeing the line along with 29 other women for the start. I didn’t feel nervous. My goal was to be relaxed so I didn’t get sucked into too fast a pace from the gun. When the gun went off all the women dashed frantically for position. I hung back on the rail but one runner in particular kept trying to push her way in. I kept a stiff arm and she kept ramming into it trying to push her way in. Eventually she shoved her way right in front of me and I was tripped up a bit and ended up falling into her back.  I thought, “Screw this!” and stayed back to save energy and let her continue to race poorly. On a side note I ended up beating this runner. After the race she was very distraught with her coach as to how she could have raced so poorly. My coach wanted to tell her coach that he needed to teach his athletes how to actually race and stop messing other people up but from what I have heard this coach is notorious for giving his athletes advice to “race dirty.”
I came through the mile in 5:15 and was almost last. The race was very different than last year where I ended up taking the lead due to a very slow pace at the start. This year the girls were going for it. Though I was a bit fast through the mile I managed to settle in. The race never got less congested for me so I did my best to save energy in the pack. Towards the end I was feeling pretty strong, just not snappy. I couldn’t turn my legs over faster but they were not loading up. My breathing was rough as my cold made it harder to breath but I managed to finish strong the last 800 meters.
I crossed the line in 16:36 and reached my goal. Though I am not satisfied with that time I am satisfied that I am able to run and race pain free and that the fitness I may have lost is not that much and will come back soon.
I was set to fly out the next day and was bummed I would have to leave before watching Levi vault. We had planned our trips at different times and originally he was not going to compete at Stanford. I was praying that somehow I would be able to stay but the night before my flight had accepted the fact that I would just have to hear how he performed via text updates.
My brother John drove me to the airport and when I got to my gate I was informed the flight was overbooked. After some convincing I managed to convince the Alaska Air attendant to let me fly out Sunday. I was ecstatic! I quickly began trying to figure out the bus schedule or any inexpensive means to get back to the track. John ended up volunteering to come back and get me as there were a lot of men in the pole vault and it would be awhile before Levi came in.
We made it back to the track with plenty of time to spare and were able to watch Levi get a new PR in the pole vault and win the meet! I was so thankful to have been able to watch him and am looking forward to traveling down to Mt. SAC to watch him go even higher. After Levi’s competition John and I headed out for a long run around the campus. It was a beautiful run and I was very thankful to be able to spend one more day enjoying the sun. 

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And for fun here is the video of Levi's winning vault:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Off to the Sun!

            Living in the Pacific Northwest can get a little dreary at times so when April rolls around I get excited as that means lots of track meets in warm, sunny California! My month of March was spent indoors doing a lot of cross training while my left Achilles and Soleus tried to heal from an injury I suffered at the end of February. Being indoors is not the most enjoyable thing for me, even less so when I am not even able to run. But the weather did make it a little easier to be indoors. If it was sunny and warm I might have gone insane, but with colder and very wet weather outside it was nice to sit inside in a nice 70 degree climate while I looked out through the large windows at the ships and boats going by.
            So after a little over a month of cross training, the track season is upon me, leaving me a little concerned as to my fitness level. Before my first outdoor track meet I typically would have completed at least 10 track workouts. Right now I have done two, which is great considering where I was at even a week before my first workout. I am now pretty much pain free. I get a little tightness in the Soleus at times and my Achilles still has some weird bumps on it but they do not hurt! I have been seeing a PT at the Sports Reaction Center and am so thankful for their help.
            On Friday March 30th I went to the track to attempt my first workout. It was a week before I was scheduled to race and I needed to do something. I decided to do 400s at 5k pace, nothing too far or fast. I ended up doing two sets of 10x400m with a one minute rest and injury wise it felt surprisingly good. Physically I felt a little “out of shape” with my breathing and turnover. On Sunday I ran my first run outside and I made it 12 miles with very minimal tightness that went away during the run. Then on Tuesday I did another workout. This time I did two sets of 4x800m with a minute break, starting at 5k pace and working it down the second set. I felt pretty tired and sluggish the first set then snapped out of it and felt great the second set. I know I am not as sharp right now as in the past but that is o.k. I am making progress in the right direction and will regain that fitness when it matters. If anything the month of March probably served as a nice break for my body. Now everything should be replenished and ready to go…at least that’s what I am telling myself.
            Later tonight I will be flying out with my husband and brother where we will all be competing at the Stanford Invitational Friday and Saturday. A couple of my friends/Club teammates will be there so it should be a blast. I will be racing the 5000m. After two successful workouts I was tempted to debut with a steeple but I know I need to be patient and give my body a little more time to heal and get stronger. The steeple is a tough event on your body and I want to have some practice under my belt to make sure my leg can handle the jumping before I race it. But the excitement I have for it is a good thing, and good things come to those who wait. :)