Race Recap: Redhook Crit 5k and a Start to Spring

I haven’t taken the time to write much lately and my blog has become completely dedicated to race recaps.  I want to try to be better about writing things down when they come to me and/or reflecting on my running, but for now the Redhook Crit 5k marked the beginning of the spring season.

I found out about this race when I met Pavel Marosin, the race director, at the NYRR Night at the Races.  All I knew was that it was a four lap 5k, which meant it got a lot of spectators and was an all around good time.  About a week before the race, an info e-mail was sent out with the schedule for the day and I found out the 5k was between qualifying and final rounds of a bike race.  Between putting the pieces together from what I could observe at the race, a little Wikipedia research, and talking to my cousin (who happened to be visiting from California and is very involved in cycling), I learned a little bit about a different kind of race than I’m used to:

Crit is short for Criterium.  It’s a type of bike race held on a short course, usually less than a mile (in this case, 1300M), on blocked off city streets.  The race is run in laps and there are often prizes throughout the races for lap times and/or leading certain laps.

It was at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, overlooking the East River and the Statue of Liberty.  The plan for the event was to have the qualifying rounds for the Crit first, then the 5ks, then the finals of the Crit.  So on a gorgeous day, cycling fans would be able to enjoy the view and stick around to watch the 5k, even if it was just while they waited for the Crit finals.  Saturday was far from gorgeous.  It was the kind of day that makes me want to stay in my pajamas and read books with hot chocolate while I watch the rain pour down.  Early in the day the decision was made to push the 5k back after the Crit final because the rain was supposed to get worse the later it got and that was more dangerous for the bikes.  It was dangerous regardless of the schedule change because the 5ks got pushed back farther after a crash in the women’s final.  All things considered, I was impressed with the number of spectators who stuck around anyway.  Nat was a really good sport and stayed with me the whole time getting drenched to cheer and and hold my sweats.

We finally got to the line, soaking wet and ready to run.  Once we got going and I got more used to the dark road with huge puddles, it was actually a really fun race.  There was bonus money in leading the first lap, but I had my mind on the overall results so I sat back a little while keeping the leaders in sight.  Then on the second lap I focused on slowly reeling them in.  For the second half of the race I was in a small group of three, working but feeling comfortable enough.  The laps made it interesting because at one end of the loop was a tight turn around.  At the same time, I got to hear Nat and a Oiselle fan who braved the weather (thank you!) every time I came around.  I was in front going into the last lap and I wasn’t sure if the two women near me were drafting or getting tired.  By the second half of that last lap I was ready to move.  I felt great finishing and it was the first time I’ve ever gotten to run through the ribbon!

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photo credit top: Nat, bottom: Redhook 5k

I did my cool down and put on dry clothes as quickly as I possibly could, but my muscles can tell that I had been wet and shivering a bit.  Nevertheless, time to get back at it because spring is here!  I’ve updated my tentative race schedule and I’m looking forward to a great outdoor season.

Race Day Recaps: BU Valentines and Millrose Games

Since coming home from Texas/Seattle I’ve been really busy getting back to work, both at Rutgers and with running, and traveling to more races.  That’s why I got so delayed on my race recaps.  Now I have some time to take a small step back and reflect on the last few weeks…

The biggest thing I’ve learned since starting this new phase in my running career is that not everything goes as planned and that’s okay. If preparations went perfectly, I would have slept well after my 3k in Seattle, not gotten sick the next Tuesday and been able to do a workout with my team to get ready for the mile in Boston.  I would have known exactly what and where I was racing the week after Boston, but neither was the case. In hindsight I feel a little funny thinking about the fact that I almost didn’t go to Boston. Yes, racing when you’re not feeling well is terrible and a bad idea when your next race is a week away. I didn’t want to run poorly and then make myself even more sick by traveling. But after sleeping for 12 hours that night, I woke up Wednesday feeling like a new person. My only hesitation then was that I had missed the workout. What if I wasn’t sharp enough to race? It definitely made me nervous, but I couldn’t miss a chance at a good race and a big PR.  I’ve always loved racing in Boston, and this time was no different.  Kate Grace took us out perfectly, again, and I owe her a lot of thanks for another PR.  Before I got on the line, Gag told me not to leave any gaps, which is something I remember Coach Fox always saying as well.  Both of them were there watching and I could hear them cheering, but I watched the Flotrack video of the race, I could see myself fall back half of a step and then get right back on where I know they were both in my head.  I was thrilled with a 6 second PR (4:31.3) and to be able to see my teammate, Amanda Winslow, run the third fasted time in the world just ahead of me (4:26.28).

The week that followed was a mess of confusion.  The plan was to fly out to Iowa and run another 3k.  We tried to get into the Millrose 3k, but the heat was over full so even waiting to see if someone scratched wasn’t an option.  And then Mother Nature attacked New Jersey again.  My flight was canceled and there were no other flights going out in enough time for me to get to Iowa and prepare for my race properly.  My indoor season was over and it was time to gear up for spring…until another curve ball was thrown at me.  Flights getting into New Jersey were being canceled as well, which meant that a spot opened up in the Millrose Wanamaker Mile.  I owe an I’m sorry/thank you to Katie Mackey, who couldn’t make it out of Seattle, and a big thank you to David Monti of NYRR for making me a last minute addition.

So I found out on my way to a workout Friday morning that in a day and a half I would be in one of the biggest, most watched races.  The number of times I had to wrap my mind around racing and not racing and racing again throughout the week was making me a little dizzy.  I told Gag that I was mentally overwhelmed and he responded with “Ha! That’s a good one. You’ll be fine.”  And then, though still nervous, I started to get pretty excited.  Nat sent me the quote,

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.

  He’s right; it doesn’t matter if I knew all along or if I found out when I did.  I’ve been training hard and racing well and I was presented with an amazing opportunity.

I wish I could say that I took the quote and ran with it (see what I did there?), and had the most incredible race of my life, but it didn’t quite go that way.  No one went with the rabbit and it turned into a jumbled mess until 800 and I just didn’t have the same strength or speed to go from there.  I felt tired and flat.  The crazy thing is that if I hadn’t run in Boston the week before, the 4:35 that I’m disappointed with would have been my new PR.  I also know that it was really great for me to have that experience.  Actual racing like that is different from time a time trial-type race and I needed that experience on a big stage.  Now I need to work on having the courage to be the one that pushes the pace when the rest of the field doesn’t, and/or put myself in a better position to go.

Full of new experiences from the past month and a half in Texas, Seattle, Boston, and NYC, I’m ready to reboot for the spring season. I can never seem to say thank you enough for all of the support via all forms of social media. More good things to come!

Race Day Recap: UW Invite–Birds Fly Home

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I’m writing from the hallway outside my hotel room at 2:00 AM with a bad case of post-race insomnia.  I kind of forgot that this happens when I have night races (sometimes worse than others), though this was more of an afternoon race.  I think my body is totally confused.  On the one hand this makes sense.  My legs and my heart are feeling a bit jittery from all of the excitement, and I did drink I small cup of coffee on my way to dinner to make sure I survived the evening.  But on the other hand I should be exhausted!  We’ve had so many awesome events planned this weekend all leading up to a great effort on the track and an amazing team dinner.  After the flurry of activity and a little bit of wine, I would think my body would just relax.  Instead I tossed and turned for a couple hours before deciding to give this a try…

Ending #springtraining by flying to Oiselle City (aka Seattle) and kicking off the 2014 season was such an awesome idea.  I had run the 3k at the Dempsey twice before and both times were PRs and great trips, but doing it in flystyle was pretty special.  I had really been looking forward to meeting the Little Wing women and getting to know them.  We first met up with them Thursday morning when we got to act like models and do a photo shoot in some new Oiselle duds.  Then Amanda, Kate, and I headed to the track for our pre-race workout.

I’m running out of adjectives to describe how I’ve felt for our activities.  Everything was just AWESOME!  On Friday I got to see the Oiselle HQ for the first time.  It’s very cool spot just a short walk away from where we did yoga with Jasyoga founder and head coach Erin.  I have been following all of her posts on the Oiselle blog page in my quest to get into yoga this year.  Normally I’m not one for trying something I have never done before a race, and yoga has certainly never been part of my race prep.  I went into it with the plan of hanging out with my legs up on the wall if there was anything I didn’t want to do.  But I ended up doing the whole thing.  It was all very light and relaxing.  Every so often Erin reminded us not to visualize the race, but to think about and take in the feelings that we experience when we have accomplished our goals.  I really liked that exercise and it’s something that I can keep in mind when prepping mentally for all of my races. 

Then yesterday was go time.  I stuck to my trusted race day routine; shake out jog, breakfast (though I took a risk and had oatmeal instead of pancakes) while watching ESPN College Game Day (GO CUSE!), hang out in the room watching Netflix, go for a walk and get a sandwich, shower, and have some coffee as I head to the track.  I could feel myself getting a little nervous.  I raced on the roads a couple times this fall, but this was my pro track debut.  I knew I wanted to break 9:00 but sometimes I have trouble saying my exact goals out loud.  It’s like I need to protect myself in case it doesn’t happen.  Instead I told myself it would be good to PR and great to break 9:00, but I knew the whole time I wouldn’t be totally satisfied if I saw a 9:01.  We got on the line and Kate Grace was announced as our rabbit.  She did a really awesome job; the race felt so smooth.  I felt really strong and we got the wheels going a little for that last lap.  That feeling that Erin had us embody the day before was all there, plus some.  Amanda and I went 1-2, respectively, each with big PRs of 8:56.37 and 8:56.44.  I felt so proud to be part of Oiselle and NJNYTC.  And to be a Syracuse alum!  By the time I cooled down, Cuse had taken care of business in the Dome with Duke.

As I said before, we finished off the night with a celebratory team dinner.  Heading back to New Jersey (which seems like the Antarctica after spring training in San Antonio all month) tomorrow night.  All kidding about the weather aside, it’ll be good to be home.  More work to do!

#NJNYtakesTX: Winding Down

January is coming to an end, which means so is our trip to San Antonio. I’ve had a really great time bonding with some teammates and learning a lot along the way. Without realizing it, I was getting into a rhythm at home planning what I had to do each day and I started to feel like I was going through the motions. I think getting away from every day life with work and whatever else to train has helped me to take a step back and enjoy the hard work that goes into what I’m trying to do. I know that going home means going back to work and every day things that require a bit more scheduling again, but I don’t think I’ll feel like I’m going through motions anymore, “fitting in” my run or gym time. Why did I feel like there was such a rush before just to get it done? Sometimes I need to remember to enjoy the process, and this trip was a great reminder.

At the same time, I’ve learned that the life of a full time runner is tough.  I mean, I am a full time runner in New Jersey too; it’s not like I switch to part time at home and do half the running, half the eating healthy, half the strength training, but I also have a part time job that keeps my mind off of running.  Something I’ve learned while here is that I like having that distraction.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been having a BLAST in San Antonio.  As I’ve said before, I appreciate the opportunity to train in a new, warm place, and I know it’s something that’s good for me and I would like to continue doing each year.  But non-training projects stop me from obsessing and dwelling.  I was way too excited to get my work schedule emailed to me last week so I could write it in my planner and start working on student questionnaires.  I’m also trying to take on an extra project.  Not many details yet, but we have been talking a lot about ways that NJNY can become more involved in our local running community.  Anyway, I know I can’t take on too much and training comes first, but it’s definitely nice to have something to work on.

That being said, we did come out here to put in some good hard work and that is pretty tiring.  Although we (or at least I) lack the energy to go on big Texas adventures every day, we have been taking advantage of the trip.  Quick recap: we took a mini road trip to Austin, ventured downtown and saw the Alamo and the River Walk (from what I was told before coming down here, the trip would not have been complete without it), I explored the natural bridge caverns when my brother came to visit from Houston, and we got to know some of the awesome local runners through the grand opening of We Run San Antonio running store. Most importantly, we did some serious quality training. Success.

On to the next adventure: 2014 Indoor Season. Get ready Seattle, we’re on our way.

#NJNYtakesTX: Namaste

Hello 2014! Getting into yoga and working on my flexibility was one of my main New Year’s resolutions.  As I said in my New Year post, I was very self conscious about my lack of flexibility and yoga novice and started with some basic poses from a morning flow YouTube video.  Well, I have now taken the next step to becoming more serious about my resolution.  Ashley Higginson showed me a basic sequence that I worked on when we first got down here.  That was really good for just getting started and opening up a bit.  This was a big step for me because it was the first time I did any sort of yoga in front of other people besides those who may or may not have seen me through the sliding glass doors at my apartment.  Then Kate Grace found a class today at the Gold’s Gym we have been working out at while in San Antonio, and at the last minute I decided to join her.  Once the instructor suggested we get the other mats that didn’t squeak on the floor so much, it was really great.  The instructor was good with modeling the poses and also helping everyone get in the correct positions.  I skipped out on some poses like the head stand because it was my first time and because I have a workout tomorrow and a race in a couple weeks that I would rather not hurt myself for.  I was very proud of myself though…not only can I touch my toes, I can stand on my hands and have my legs straight! I can stand up straight on my right leg and hold my left leg out to the side by my toes! (kind of) I’ve got a good amount of work to do, but I feel a whole lot better about going to classes.

When I start things or try to get into something, I end up planning it in my routine, looking into the best way to make it a regular thing, and researching to the point where I seem a bit obsessive.  I started looking into yoga places at home and their hours and classes offered.  I found that I have plenty of options and I can’t wait to continue.  Through my obsessive research I also found something pretty cool and useful for someone who travels and finds themselves in need of a place to workout or a class to attend.  MindBody Connect is an app for android (maybe iPhone? I don’t know) that allows you to search specific businesses or by key word in whatever location, check out their schedules, and even register and pay in advance for classes.  Maybe I’m totally behind and everyone does this already, but I think it’s pretty cool and it will come in handy with a lot the traveling we do!

Maybe someday…
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#NJNYtakesTX: Keep Austin Weird

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A hop, skip, and a jump from San Antonio is the capital of Texas, live music, and Flotrack.  Saturday morning, we piled in the VW and took a mini road trip singing “Life is a Highway” to enjoy Austin.  Thanks to the hospitality of Flotrack’s Ryan and Mitch, it was a pretty awesome trip.  The day started with a long run around Town Lake, a loop that was the perfect long run distance and a soft surface.  The path was pretty crowded at the start of the run, which was a little difficult for a group of six to maneuver, but it’s nice to see a city that is so fit and active.  It was clear we were from out of town when we stripped down to sports bras to soak in the sun while most other people were aware that it was January and wore tights and long sleeves.

After the long run, I found out that breakfast tacos are my new favorite food. Torchy’s Tacos (tag line: Damn Good) is a food truck that I highly recommend if you get the chance. Then I went to a Whole Foods that had a live band playing inside. Yes, a live band in a grocery store. Amanda, Kate, and I also had the opportunity to meet up with a fellow bird, Sarah Stevens. It was nice to spend the afternoon with Sarah and her daughter taking some pictures and checking out S. Congress Street. Austin really is a unique place.

I’ve been in Texas for a week now and I feel like I’ve already gotten so much out of it. If you get the chance to escape the cold and have a change of pace in a new area, I highly recommend it.  I’m definitely focused when I’m at home; I know what I’m trying to do and what it takes.  But coming to a new place with the sole purpose of getting a solid month of serious, hard work in is refreshing.  Getting to travel and experience new cities is an added bonus that running has given me and I’m extremely grateful to have these opportunities.  More to come in the next three weeks.

#NJNYtakesTX: Hill Country

Finding hills in San Antonio is no problem at all. My brother lives in Houston and when I told him I would be training here he said everyone calls it hill country, but I took it with a grain of salt because I know that where he lives you can see for miles with absolutely no change in elevation. Relatively speaking, “hill country” didn’t hold much value. I’ve quickly learned that he (or his San Antonio sources) were correct. There are hills. I only wish there was a little less fog this morning so that we could have been rewarded for our climb to the top of a trail with a view.

Yesterday was a new experience for me.  After our pace run, I went for a massage at a neuromuscular pain and nutrition center and was worked on by Savitri Frizzell. I have never even seen a chiropractor before and this fall was my first time seeing a massage therapist.  It was a great session.  I took anatomy in high school, but studying social sciences for the past five years distanced me from knowledge of the muscles, nerves, and bones. I know the basics, but I feel like I should know more. I always appreciate it when whoever is working on my explains what is happening, and that is exactly what she did. What everything seems to boil down to is that my right leg is longer than my left, which throws everything off balance.  The way she was able to find areas in my legs and hips that were feeling tension, massage somewhere, and immediately release the tension was really awesome.  Needless to say, I learned a lot and I have some great exercises to add to my daily routine! And she has an office in New Jersey…

Some more running inspiration (Pinterest credit to Jenn Ennis aka @runnderlust):
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#NJNYtakesTexas: We Have Arrived!

After many traveling woes (canceled and delayed flights, missing bags, excessive turbulence) our whole contingent is finally here and settled in the Lone Star State.  First impressions of Texas: everything really is bigger, Mexican food is delicious, and there’s something about a truck. I guess there has to be some truth to the stereotypes.
1. The trip to the “grocery store” was very overwhelming for me. HEB Plus was like a combination of five different stores with groceries, clothes, appliances, electronics, and probably anything else you could imagine (but somehow different than Walmart).
2. The restaurant was a great choice. First dinner in Texas was done right with enchiladas.
3. There really are so many trucks! But not just your average truck, because everything is bigger here. We pulled up to a restaurant for dinner with our little VW Jetta between two monsters. I think I would have needed a boost just to get onto the step that is supposed to boost you into the truck.

Amanda and I were the last ones to arrive late last night, but this was no reason to forget why we are here.  This morning started with a cross training and core session at Gold’s Gym.  This place was huge and very luxurious! I wish I could say that since I wrote about my attempts to become a swimmer I have succeeded and can now swim a gazillion laps while rotary breathing like a pro, but I can’t. I really did practice, but I’m not confident enough in my swimming to use it as a legitimate, beneficial form of cross training. Today I stayed in my comfort zone and used my new aqua jogging belt, but I have not given up on swimming! I have my swim cap and goggles with me and I want to keep working on it. This was followed up by an afternoon trail run. Today was still a little chilly, but it certainly wasn’t 6° like new jersey and the rest of the week is supposed to be in the 60s and 70s!

Some motivation for the weeks to come from Kara Goucher:
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New Year, New Place, New Plans

Sunshine and 10 Gallon Hats
I spent a good part of last night in Newark Airport (delayed for hours) because I have the opportunity to take a break from the northeast winter to get in some warm weather training in San Antonio. Unfortunately we never left. After hanging out for five hours, the flight was canceled. We weren’t able to get on another one until Monday evening, and our bags were not pulled so they went out on the first flight to San Antonio this morning. One more weekend (without any of my good running clothes) training in the cold and snow.

Once we get out there, however, I am really looking forward to a solid month of training, uninhibited by snow, slush, and ice, and a chance to experience a new place. Big thanks to Rose Monday, Oiselle, and Coach Gag for making this all happen for us. Expect a few more posts this month as I report on my Texas adventures!

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Amanda and me ready to leave, and the snow that kept us in NJ

Some Resolutions
I don’t really have a tradition of coming up with a New Year’s resolution.  That’s not to say that don’t think there are things about myself that I could improve, I just usually don’t remember to think about it, and if I do, I get frustrated when I don’t stick to it.  This year I actually have been thinking about some things that I would like to do or work on in 2014, the New Year seems like a great way to start.

1. Become a Tea Drinkerimage
I have never liked tea. Iced or hot, even the smell of it usually makes me feel nauseous. At the same time, I have always wished I did like it. It seems like such a healthy soothing thing to have on cold winter nights before bed. Last year I had a miserable cold when I went home for winter break and my dad begged me to try his herbal tea and it was actually pretty good! A taste for coffee took some time for me to acquire at first too. So I’m starting with this vanilla sleepytime tea before bed and we’ll see where it goes!

2. Drink More Water
As a runner, I think it’s weird that I have to remind myself to drink water. Most of my friends’ water bottles are like an extra limb that they always have with them. I’m really good about it at meets or races, but I really should work on being hydrated all of the time.

3. Eat Different Veggies
I was super picky as a kid growing up and did not eat many things that were healthy for me without a fight. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to like vegetables a lot more, which is good, but I want to branch out from my typical corn and broccoli. I’ve started eating cauliflower more recently, but I want to try more. Any suggestions for veggie recipes are appreciated!

4. Flexibility
I’ve said it before, stretching is a new thing for me. I am incredibly inflexible. Running at the intensity that I am, I would definitely benefit from being more flexible. This goal is part of the reason for plan #5…

5. Get Into Yoga
This one I have been thinking about for years and for some reason never did it. Aside from increasing my flexibility, yoga will increase my core strength while hopefully relieving some stress and relaxing me. I’ve looked into some classes in my area, but there aren’t always beginner classes that fit my schedule and I have yet to get myself out the door. And maybe I’m a little self-conscious about my lack of flexibility. I decided to start small. You can do anything with the Internet. I found a short morning yoga routine on YouTube that I have been doing to get my day started. Maybe after some practice with these basic poses, I will have enough courage to get me to some classes.

6. Discipline
The mental ability to stick with all of these things. I think all of them, or at least most of them, go along with one another and really have to do with me taking steps to get to the next level as an athlete. Looking forward to what 2014 has to offer!

Race Day Recap: Manchester Road Race

In the world of running, Thanksgiving morning means Turkey Trot.  Running USA’s infographic illustration shows how they have become increasingly popular in the past couple of years.  As an NCAA athlete, Thanksgiving fell three days into my post-XC season break and so I was always a cheerleader for my dad at our local Turkey Trot in Morristown, NJ.  Last year I joined him in the race to gauge my fitness in the middle of some serious base building when I didn’t have XC eligibility.  Thanksgiving tradition became a freezing road race followed by thawing out while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the National Dog Show on TV before an afternoon/evening full of food.

This year was a little different.  This year I became part of one of the biggest, traditional Thanksgiving Day road races: The 77th Manchester Road Race.  Though it was my first, this year’s race seemed to be even more about tradition, as it was Amby Burfoot’s 51st, setting the record for Manchester Road Race finishes.

To be perfectly honest, I had some serious self-doubt before this race.  I hate to admit it, but I was feeling pretty negative.  I have always heard about this race and what an awesome experience it is, and I had been excited about running it all fall.  The more I learned about the race from friends and coaches who have participated in it before, the more I became concerned about the 4.748 mile distance (a little longer than what I’m used to) and the monster hill that is the entire second mile.  Somehow everyone that told me about this hill did so with a smile on his/her face and assured me that I would have so much fun.

Still, once the spaghetti dinner was over and I was sitting in the hotel room thinking about stripping down to my Oiselle uniform in the anticipated 30° weather to climb a crazy hill, I questioned my sanity a bit.  I was having moments of mental weakness thinking that it would be nice to know I could bundle up at home and watch the parade on my couch with a cup of hot chocolate.  My dad was coming up to watch and then drive us both to my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, and all I could think was that we would be stuck in traffic eating sandwiches from a rest stop as our Thanksgiving dinner instead.  Not my idea of a good tradition.

I think these negative thoughts stemmed from nerves.  I needed to pump myself up, remind myself why I was there, and answer myself every time I asked what the hell I was doing.  While I was laying out my race day clothes, I started to snap out of it.  That Oiselle uniform means something important and I wanted to represent it well.  What the hell was I doing?  I was doing what I love and being thankful that I can.  I was remembering I spent five winters in Syracuse and 30° is nothing (especially with the arm warmers I planned to wear).  I was being the confident, fierce competitor that I know I am.  Yes, sometimes I experience moments of weakness and I start to get a bit negative.  The important thing is that I have ways to get myself back in it and support from a lot of people who remind me to be positive as well.

The morning of the race, excitement started to replace my doubts.  It was cold, but the sun was out and the way the community shares this tradition in Manchester reminded me, yet again, why I love runners so much.  During the warm up, Rebeka and I chose to check out the start/finish instead of dwelling on the hill.  I went through my usual routine and by the time we had to take our sweats off, the cold didn’t seem too bad.  My Oiselle race kit with the arm warmers, throw-away gloves, and a headband worked out perfectly.

The gun went off and the first mile felt pretty good.  With a distance like 4.748 miles, it was hard to think about what kind of pace I should hit, so I thought more about being competitive with the other women in the race.  I was in a good pack and then I saw 4:59 on the clock.  Even though I didn’t think too much about pace, that was faster than I thought.  Nevertheless, I tried to keep calm because it was time to start climbing.  When I got to the top, I realized I was happy the hill got so much hype from everyone I talked to.  It was definitely a big, long hill that you have to grind through, but all the hype made me expect to feel worse on it than I did.  It was keeping up on the downhill that everyone flies on afterward that was a challenge, but I managed to survive that as well.  Finally, we came around the last turn for the last downhill. I could see the finish line for about 600 meters and I finished strong.

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Pain Face.

In such and elite field, I was definitely happy with my fourth place finish.  And yet, once the excitement died down a bit, I couldn’t help wondering if I could have pushed a little harder in the middle and had the leaders a little closer to catch for the finish.  First place was 15 seconds in front of me, second was 8, and third was 6.  As an athlete, I think it’s important to find a balance between being proud of what I accomplish, and not being 100% satisfied.  There’s always room for improvement and I have enough of a competitive drive to want more.  I’m willing to work for it.  It’s going to be a good year.

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Manchester Road Race Legend Amby Burfoot on the right.

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Rebeka and me before the race…

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…and after the race

 

Things I’m Thankful For
1. The Cabral Family for taking us in Tuesday night so we had a place to stay before Rebeka and I could get into the hotel.
2. Nat for always being supportive with my running career, even when I’m a little crazy like I was when I was sharing my doubts with him Wednesday night and he helped me to stay positive.
3. My family.  My dad drove all the way up to watch the race and get me home for Thanksgiving Dinner (no, we didn’t eat rest stop sandwiches in traffic on the highway).  My mom is always very supportive even if she can’t always be at the race, I can never wait to call her when I finish.  And my brother and sister were home for the holiday as well.  I’m thankful that I have all of them, and my extended family, and that I get to spend time with them as often as I do.
4. The rest of my support system: My coaches, past and present, and teammates.

I’m thankful that all of these things have come together to help make me achieve my goals and make my dream life happen.