Wednesday marked the final day of classes for my sophomore year of college, but 30 minutes after my last final exam I was on a charter bus along with 46 of my fellow track and field athletes for our journey to the Big Sky Conference Championships track meet in Portland, Oregon. 16 weeks of training have come down to the final 10,000 meters around the track in an effort to place in the top-8 in the conference and score points for my team toward the championship title!
This year I want to run with my heart instead of my head. I completely fell in love with running years ago; many times the best part of my day is an energizing or serene run/workout. So today I’ve got a playlist that is upbeat-songs-only. I just want to stay in a super positive mood and totally enjoy myself. (We’re deviating from the typical Eminem trend here.)
I tried to keep the country tunes to a minimum ;) Mainly I just like theses songs because they make me want to dance! Race organizers like to schedule the 10k last, so I will be hanging out at the hotel for a few more hours today before heading over to the stadium. To keep my mind off the race I’ve got Pinterest and last night’s Grey’s Anatomy episode. All I need is my cuddly puppy and maybe an iced skinny cinnamon dolce latte.
As our plane descended into Portland, it was easily the GREENEST place I’ve ever seen. For our pre-race shakeout run yesterday afternoon, we left the track in search of a trail but instead ran through an adorable neighborhood that reminded me of Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives. We couldn’t stop admiring the scenery and the beautiful green trees that were so plentiful. At one point we ran along a fence with a field of lavender on the other side – talk about picturesque. I wish I had my camera with me!
Race Recap to come tomorrow :)
*I realized after I initially posted this that I forgot the song “I Lived” by OneRepublic!
It’s taken me a few days to write a recap for the Mt. SAC Relays 10k. Actually it’s hard to believe that the race was already three days ago. The race was Thursday, laaaate Thursday. So late that we didn’t leave the hotel and head to the track until 8:00pm, and we didn’t toe the start line until nearly 10:30pm. A time when I’m usually winding down, I was instead summoning all my energy to run the fastest 6.25 miles of my life.
Mt. SAC (San Antonio College) is an iconic host of high school, collegiate and elite running events. A sign with a flame stands at the entrance to the stadium: Where the World’s Best Athletes Compete. Among some of this weekend’s competitors included Olympians Morgan Uceny, Carmelita Jeter and Ashton Eaten, plus elite athletes from all over the world. Just being accepted into the meet was an honor and I felt very lucky to be there!
I’ve competed at Mt. SAC a total of 12 times since 9th grade, including 9 cross countries races and 3 track meets.
The 10k is tricky because it’s about pacing. Of course the first couple of miles are going to feel conservative, in order to have enough energy to power through over half an hour of racing. My previous best (okay, my only 10k time) is an altitude-adjusted 38:48. Going into Thursday night’s race, I had my sights set on 37:30 which would be six-minute-mile pace. 90 seconds per lap, for 25 laps.
The 33 girls in the heat formed a pretty solid clump, and our first lap was a few seconds slower than goal pace. There were definitely some elbows flying until we began to spread out.
The hardest part about racing 10,000 meters is being mentally tough. My legs are a lot stronger than my mind, and 25 laps is an awful lot. I have to keep myself positive for 37 minutes, because once the moment of doubt or fatigue comes in, you will struggle.
Staying on pace for the entirety of the race, I finished in 37:17, approximately 5:57.9 mile pace. I was beyond thrilled, but mostly just exhausted. My calves are still sore from wearing new spikes for such a long time, but I’m more confident about my next 10k and my abilities to run consistently.
As content as I was with my own race, I am humbled by the fact that many of my competitors were able to complete the same distance in 34 and 35 minutes.
With the first 10k of the season under my belt, it’s back to the grind to keep working hard until the conference championships!
Yesterday was set to be my debut track race of the season. My school was hosting an indoor track meet in our dome, and I was entered in the 3k. Last minute, the whole meet was cancelled! Unfortunately, my parents were already scheduled to come up for the weekend and watch me race. So in lieu of their visit, I decided to just run a one-(wo)man 3k on the track as a “time trial.”
Last year, my personal best 3,000 meter time at 7,000ft elevation was 10:50. (I’ve only run one 3k at sea-level, my junior year in high school in 10:37.) I wanted to run this time trial to compare my fitness level to one year ago. I’ve been training for just under 5 weeks after 5 weeks off from the December surgery. Before that, I had 6 weeks of running after 3 months off from the July surgery. Needless to say, I am not quite in my prime racing shape. I’ve been putting in the miles, speed workouts, strength workouts, extra ab and core sessions, and eating extra healthy.
When my parents arrived Friday afternoon, I had the 300-meter indoor track all to myself for the 10-lap “race.” My dad stood at the lap counter with his stop watch, looking very official and calling out my splits. Even though it’s not a real race, I still get nervous! My stomach gets butterflies and I think about all the things that can go wrong. Since I was all by my lonesome on the track, I knew I would have to keep myself from over-thinking and getting mentally psyched out. I tried to convince my dad to let me run with my iPod; he said NOPE. (To which I responded, “Fine then you’ll just have to SING TO ME! He did not. Lame.)
I did not have a goal time because I honestly had no idea what I would be able to do. My laps were not very consistent, and half way through I let myself get a little doubtful of my own abilities. But I finished with a kick in 11:12 which I am considering acceptable. Nothing really impressive, but of course it could be much much worse. Knowing that I am within 22 seconds of the previous year’s best is still pretty positive and I KNOW that in a real race with my teammates, some competition, my coaches, spectators and a legitamate uniform, I’ll be able to knock off at least 12 seconds ;) Next weekend we shall find out!
Another reason my parents are in town is to celebrate my birthday! It’s not until Tuesday, but we are filling this weekend with festivities. Which I am off to right now! Have a great weekend and if you are in the snow storms too, stay safe & drink some coffee.