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5,000 meters

Last night I opened my Outdoor Track Season with a sea-level 5,000 meters. 27 girls from 10 different universities toed the line after the stadium lights lit up the Friday night field. The heat from the day had subsided with the sun and there was just some slight wind.

Going into the race, I have had about 2 months of training since my last surgery and recovery. Normally, 2 months is not a long time to build up both a mileage base and speed. So I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of shape my body was in; I knew my workouts were progressively improving each week and I felt strong and ready. One year ago, at this same invitational, I ran 18:05, and a month later ran 17:50. This race would just give me some sort of indication as to what kind of shape I am in after so much down time.

Tucson Track Meet (stronglikemycoffee.com)

First mile flew by in 5:43, spot-on pace to break 18 minutes.  Luckily I had my teammate Lauren right in front of me to push me the whole time.

For the next four laps, I focused on staying consistent, though the hurt definitely set in. The last mile, the true test of strength, is where the gaps started to form. I told myself to pass the two girls ahead of me, and don’t let anyone pass me. At the three-mile-mark, I was at 17:32. Breaking 18-minutes was no longer reasonable, so I just kicked with everything I had left – 39 seconds later, it was over.

Just a Blur

Just a Blur

Finishing Time: 18:11 (5:49 mile pace)

Finishing Place: 4th (of 27)

Laps 10, 11, and 12 definitely tested my mental strength; I won’t lie, I really struggled in the last mile. It would have been nice to have my teammates supporting and cheering for the 3 of us running the 5k, but they were chowing down on the aforementioned pizza.

Give me another few weeks of track workouts and I’ll be back in the 17 minutes :)

Ultimate goal: qualify for Conference Championships in Oregon in May. To do so, I need to run a 17:40 or better in the next six weeks. Which would be a personal record, but stranger things have happened. Challenge Accepted.

A Day at the Races

Cross Country races, that is! Yesterday, September 1st, was the first cross country meet of the season for my school. Here on our own home turf at one of the most beautiful parks! The weather couldn’t have been more cooperative: overcast and cool, slightly drizzly, the ultimate racing climate. I was on the sidelines, cheering my teammates on as they competed in the Women’s 5k and Men’s 8k. The course was all with-in a two-mile loop, giving us spectators plenty of chances to see the action!

Number One reason why cross country is such an awesome sport: you get the most amazing scenery! Tell me this is not a spectacular view:

The race was literally running through a field of flowers… Okay not really, but could you imagine?!

Of course I am extremely disappointed to be on the sidelines rather than the starting line. Naturally it is frustrating experiencing a set back that takes me from the sport I am so passionate about. However, my situation is temporary and I am grateful knowing that I have the rest of my life to run and race to my heart’s desire. (There will be plenty of these views and trails in my future!) When the swelling around the left side of my faces subsides, I can resume full physical activity. And you bet I will! Can’t wait to get back on the track with these ladies:

Pre-Surgery Race Picture

Today’s races were exciting, even as a spectator. There is so much adrenaline in the air! Seeing my teammates hit personal records made me so excited for returning to running, more anxious than ever. I even got a few “butterflies” in my stomach as they toe’d the line, despite the fact that I was not with them. It’s like my body misses the feeling.

Racing is about the whole experience. Not just the stuff in between the start and the finish. It starts the night before with the carbo-load. A dinner planned around compex carbohydrates and plenty of pasta! The next morning, a hearty breakfast of oats and bananas. Pull out the “lucky sports bra.” Hair in a high pony with school color ribbons. The pre-race jitters hit me about the time I get in the bus. Find an upbeat playlist on my ipod to get in the zone. Warm-up. Team cheer. Gun goes off….

A blur of people around you, pushing and elbowing through the pack. When the second half comes, the mental side of racing really kicks in. Before you know it, it’s the last mile. The kick, the finish, relief. Finally catching your breath, hands on your knees. And then there’s the post-race celebratory meal of whatever goodies you can get your hands on. I used to love goldfish crackers, grapes and smoothies :) Ahhhh memories.

The night ended off with a team trip to a frozen yogurt shop, which CAN be made healthy with all the great fruits and berries most self-serve shops have for toppings! Unless of course you just ran an intense cross country race……then you go ahead and have the peanut butter cups ;)

 

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