This weekend came and went much quicker than I anticipated. With a slew of races under my belt in hopes of getting the A standard into U.S.A.’s, I was able to get in based on the descending order list by the graces of USATF deciding to fill the field.
After a strenuously long winter condemned by back to back injuries, my main focus for the season became something many athletes struggle with: patience. I’ve had plenty of quality workouts that left me winded, hands resting on my knees, but I wanted to make what was left of the season more about efficiency, because efficiency leads to success. I eased off on a lot of workouts to feel out the appropriate rhythm, rather than pushing myself to exhaustion. I discovered that fine line every athlete must dance with and had crossed it early in the year, but now understood how to stay out of the stands and keep on pace with my goals for the season.
As with many championship races, going into this weekend, I anticipated a slower pace than my previous races leading up to this. But as I stood watching Molly Huddle and Shannon Rowbury duke it out in their 5k, I realized that I had to adjust my tactics going into the race if it turned into less waiting and more honest effort. I knew I had to adjust to whatever rhythm the race took.
With the help of Tyler Pennel, the race was honest from the gun, yet I had to maintain the same mindset: wait. Looking back at lap 3 or 4, I had the realization that I was in dead last, something that shook my mother’s nerves beyond comfort. But as I sat there, everything was clear to me. I had complete contact with the pack, as it had not yet strung out. I began meticulously moving up in the ranks. With each move forward, I found a nice pocket to hug the inside lane to get comfortable until the time came to move again. Everything was smooth, as I didn’t even bother looking at time, laps, etc. I had one simple objective, and that was to move with the pack with as much ease as possible. Other than the few stutter steps caused by jostling within the race, I felt as efficient as ever. This race was about to go and I knew I was going to go along with it. With 3 laps to go I was waiting, feeling ready to roll, yet I knew all I required was a kick on the last lap. At 800 to go, I elected to wait just a bit longer to utilize my speed, when I would need it most. Finally the bell rang and I knew it was go time. Anyone and everyone in front of me needed to come back to me. I reeled in as many as I could with what little space I had left. As I finished, I felt a feeling that I’ve longed for, for over 3 years as I glanced at the scoreboard and realized I had unintentionally dropped my PR by just over 2 seconds. Certainly 2 seconds is not much to be elated about, and I was far from the win, but for me it’s finally a small step in the right direction on the right track I’ve been working towards. It also gave me a tremendous amount of hope, as I had just placed 8th in a national championship race. It validated what I’ve been doing for these past two years and gives me even more to aim for come next year during a World qualifier year. And beyond the 2016 Olympic year, I hope to impress my “home” crowd at Sac in 2017.
And with that I shift my focus across the pond, as I head to Europe. A trip that took a total of 4 ½ short days to put together as time was against us in getting a flight for “cheap.” I almost lost focus on this weekend as I put so much effort into making plans for races in Belgium and Ireland. But as I carry over my first success from USA’s, I look to gain momentum from my fitness and hope to surprise myself and come back with 3 new PR’s (1 Mile, 3k, and 5k). Stay posted as I make my first European track tour.