Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Club Nationals

(Club Nationals)
July 11th and 12th our Club (Club Northwest) hosted the USATF Track and Field Club Nationals in Tacoma, WA. Club Northwest took 2nd place for both the men's and women's teams. As for myself I was very pleased with my performances and even surprised myself a bit.
          On Friday I ran the 1500m. My husband, Levi, had to work until 5pm so I was going to go solo with the baby and try to race. I packed Lilyana's pack and play, diaper bag, food, and lots of toys and set off at 2:45pm. The drive was "only" 35 miles so I figured I would have plenty of time to get to the race and set things up before needing to warm up. My race was set for 5:10pm. An hour and 10 minutes later I arrived. The traffic going south was horrible. At one point I was stuck on an exit for over 30 minutes and only went 2 miles. Lily slept during the car ride which was nice and when she woke I had plenty of books to distract her. I got to the meet feeling a bit frazzled and tired from driving in traffic but I wasn't feeling stressed. On the drive I told myself this was something beyond my control so there was no need to stress. I may have needed to tell myself this over and over but I found it worked.
The race venue was literally less than a mile from the apartment Levi and I were living the week before. I kept thinking how convenient it would have been if Club Nationals was a week earlier or if we had the apartment one week longer. Instead the week of Nationals I found myself moving from two apartments in a day and a half. Talk about exhausting! Four days before the meet I did something to my upper back. It was giving me very sharp stabbing pains and was hard to breathe. Luckily it was almost healed and didn't bother me by race day on Friday.
(Lilyana's home away from home)
Upon arriving I quickly got her pack and play set up and needed to warm up. It was about 40 minutes before my race. My Club brought a tent so Lily had shade which was nice as it was very hot. One of my Club Teammates was gracious enough to watch Lily for me while I warmed up. This way I didn't have to warm up with a stroller. My teammates and I headed out for our warm up and we were all feeling the heat. I thought back to a workout I did at a track nearby a couple weeks before. It was 94 degrees and I managed to hit all my paces for my workout. Mentally, I drew strength from this as I told myself I was ready to race in the heat. I figured anything 1500m and below would be fine in the heat. I wasn't going to think about the 5k I was set to do the next day but stayed in the moment.
                I thought it would be a lot harder trying to warm up and such with the baby but my teammates and other Club members were awesome and really helped me out by watching and entertaining Lilyana while I warmed up and raced. When the gun went off I got out to good position in the 1500m, in the back of the front pack. We flew through the first lap in 71-72 and I felt fine. Then the brakes came on and the leaders really slowed on the 2nd lap. I was later told we did a 75+ on that quarter. I was not looking at splits but was just racing. I ignored the first quarter split as it was much faster than I usually go out and just stayed on the back of the front pack. It would be the same energy for me to go a little faster and stay with a group than to be a second or two slower and off the pack breaking the wind in no man's land. The third lap I was still hanging on with the lead group. Then the bell lap; I honestly thought I was going to blow up so I wanted to save some kick for closer to the end, like 150m to go. The leaders started pulling away. Off of the final curve I was still feeling good so I tried to go. I was slowly reeling in the 4th place finisher but I had let her get too far ahead of me. I crossed the line in 5th place with a 4:32. I surprised myself with that time. It was faster than I thought. Looking back I think I could have gone a little sooner on the 4th lap. I needed to trust myself and my fitness.

          I did an easy cool down with my teammates then went to watch Levi compete. The rest of my night looked something like this: Finish cool down, nurse baby, change baby, feed baby dinner, chase baby around infield, cheer for husband, nurse baby, pack up all the gear, drive to hotel for post race massage, bathe baby, drive 35 miles home (without traffic luckily), eat quick meal of Jack in the Box, go to bed after midnight, wake up at 2am, 4am, 6am, 7am and 8am for a fussy and hungry baby. Lily is usually a great sleeper so this was very bizarre to have her up so many times. I am blaming it on possible teething and over stimulation from being at the track all evening. Then get up eat breakfast, pack all our gear and Lily's food and hit the road around 10am.
(Hanging with the Athlete of the Meet, Levi Keller)
           Day two I got to the stadium about an hour before my 5k race. I would have liked to have gotten there earlier again but life with a baby just doesn't work out that way at times. On the drive over I sat in the back seat and fed Lily her oatmeal as we ran out of time to do it in the morning. Once we got to the stadium I set up Lily's Pack n' Play and proceeded to warm up. I didn't need much of a warm up since it was a 5k and I had raced the night before. The race was set for 11:35am and it was already hot. I was not sore and didn't feel all that bad until I went to do a stride then I realized how tired my body felt. My plan was just to stay relaxed and shut my mind off for at least half, maybe more, of the race. The plan unfolded perfectly. I went out in the middle of the pack and moved up. I found a rhythm and passed girls that weren't running the same pace. Soon I was sitting in 3rd, my teammate in 2nd. We just hung out behind the leader conserving energy. With 3.5 laps to go I could tell the leader was straining and my teammate and I seemed fine, in fact we were almost running up on the leader. I asked my teammate if she was feeling good. She replied, "Yes, you?" I said that I was and then we took off. I didn't want to hang out behind the leader too long and knew if we made our move now then we would seal the 1st and 2nd positions. Sure enough we pulled away. My teammate ran very strong and crossed the line just over 17:00. I was 8 or so seconds behind her in second. I was amazed how good I felt during the race and how effortless it felt. I felt like I only had to race the last 3 laps which was nice because I had a lot more racing to do.
(Women's 5km)
              After the 5k I took the stroller on a short cool down to try to get my fussy baby to nap. It didn't work. After my cool down it was back to diaper changing, nursing, and feeding Lily. I managed to drink some Gatorade and eat some pretzels or something before I needed to warm up for the 4x800. I would also be racing the 1200m in the Distance Medley Relay shortly after. My 800m warm up was very brief. We were the only women's team in the event so were just running for the time needed to get points. In the relays you have to run a minimum time to even get the points. We all needed 2:30's. I ran 2:24 and honestly felt horrible but we got the time no problem. I didn't even have time to change my spikes before the DMR as I had to go nurse Lilyana right after the 800. I sat on a chair and propped my legs up on her Pack n Play to try and recover. We were in the same position for the DMR. The only other team entered had scratched so we only needed to hit the minimum time. I ran the lead leg, which was a 1200m and ran relaxed. I surprisingly felt a lot better than in my 800m but that is probably because I was running a slower pace. I went 77, 78, 78 for the 1200m. Thankfully that was the last relay and race for me. I was exhausted and Lilyana was too. She was hot and having a little melt down as she napped for all of 5 minutes during the day.
           There was a post race party for all the teams but Levi and I decided to get Lily home. She passed out immediately in the car. She did great over the weekend but I still felt bad for having her out all day. I was partly feeling guilty because I knew in 4 days I would be putting her on a plane to Montana for another race, but this time I would have babysitters aka family.
          The weekend was a lot of fun and I cannot thank the Club, officials, and volunteers enough for putting on the meet and helping me out like they did. I have to give a special shout out to Spencer Walsh (who was the one to offer to watch Lilyana and he did great) and Ruth Perkins for supporting her teammates even though she was unable to race and handing out sponges during the 5k. I know there are many more people that helped me out that weekend but my mind is such a blur right now that Club Nationals feels like months ago not merely a weekend ago.
          I am so thankful to have the ability and opportunity to race and have support doing it.

Post Race Interview with Runnerspace: 5000m Interview

(Men's 2nd Place Team)

(Women's 2nd Place Team)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Quick Recap CNW All Comers Meet

                June 25th I decided to do another double and raced the mile and 800m at the Club Northwest All Comers Meet Wednesday night. The time between the mile and 800 was much shorter, somewhere around 15-20 minutes and surprisingly I felt way better on the 800m this time.
                They combined the men and women in both races so there were 30 of us toeing the line for the mile. I felt pretty tired and crummy on my warm up so wasn’t sure how the race would pan out. I was able to get an uninterrupted warm up in as I left the baby at home with Levi but I was feeling drained. I decided to try and go out conservative and came through my first lap around 1:15. I’m glad I decided to be “conservative” because if I hadn’t thought this I probably would have been sucked out into a much faster pace. About 800m in and I was boxed between 3 guys who were drastically slowing down. I think they were racing each other and none of them wanted to make a move. I slowed up, signaled and said moving out and went around them in almost lane 3 on the curve. Not an ideal move, but I knew if I waited I would lose my rhythm.
                I felt pretty strong the whole way. Coming down the homestretch I could see the clock. I kicked in thinking I might be able to squeeze under 5. This young boy, who probably came up to my shoulder (11-12 years old) came blowing by me. I tried to go with him this old body could not match his young, raw speed. I came in at 5:00.
                I left my spikes on and jogged a mile on the infield. Grabbed a new number, did a couple drills then toed the line for the 800m. Oh yeah in this time I literally went to the bathroom 4 times. Even before the mile I peed over 10 times. I didn’t think I was that hydrated! I was in the outside lane, 9 people in total, 8 men and me. They split up the heats and my time was just fast enough to put me in the men’s race. I figured I would be last judging by the times the guys were all saying they were going to try and hit, but I didn’t want to be so far back to get the pity clap. So I just tried to keep the men in front of me within 50 meters. I came through the first lap in 68 thinking it felt great. I figured if I ran a 70 I would be under 2:20. That was my first mistake. You do not try and “pace” an 800m. I came through the finish line in 2:21 thinking where did my time go? I wasn’t feeling bad. I just really have no clue how to run an 800m. I need to learn how to get into that uncomfortable grind and hold on.
                You would think having a baby would make you extremely tough and able to push through anything in a race but I haven’t found that to be the case. I am stronger in some ways but I have been away from racing for so long that it will take time for me to find this again. I do all my workouts alone so I am missing a bit of the mental tenacity one gets from running with people and pushing yourself harder because there are others pushing right back. I am really enjoying the process and having a blast at these low key type meets. They really are fun for the whole family and a perfect way to spend a summers evening.