The Road To Nationals

Three months ago I had not idea that I would be standing on the start line for the 1500m final, let alone as a contender. I came back to running because my amazing friend Gillian inspired me to come out and train again. I’ve always been fortunate to call the University of Toronto my home for training for the last 16 years, and I was encouraged to come out and train with the Varsity girls.

The road leading to nationals began in late May when I qualified for the 1500m during one of the U of T Twilight meets, which I wrote about here. The question after I qualified was how much faster could I get in the month leading up to Nationals.

UTTC Twilight: Pre-Nationals Tune Up

On June 11th U of T hosted their Pre-Nationals Tune up meet with a host of really fast races, including a 1500m. My training partner, Gabriela was my rabbit for the night and was going to pull me through to the 1000m mark. She did an awesome job and we starting picking it up at 600m through 1000m, where I then soloed the last 500m. I ran another PB, 4:18.09 and was getting really excited about nationals. You can watch the video here:

UTTC Twilight: 800m Night

Once upon a time I wanted to run a sub-2:10 800 and spent a summer chasing this dream, which at the time didn’t come true at the time. U of T decided to host an 800m night and I thought, ‘hey, why not try and see what you can do in an 800!’ The challenge was my seed time, having not run an 800 in three years I didn’t have a seed time to get into the fast heat. Thank goodness for Mercier Tables and taking my 1500 time from the week before and adding a few seconds to get in!

Lanes, we raced in lanes! I had no idea what I was doing. I was on the start line and totally confused. Do I chase the person in front of me? What about the person behind me? What do I do at cut in? Don’t lead the pack!

I ended up out front and panicked. My teammate, Gabriela, said the expression on my face was priceless when I realized I was out front. I literally put the brakes on (a huge booboo in an 800 because you’re legs never start going again). Despite that I still ran a 2:08 high, finally breaking that 2:10 barrier. A PB on my first 800 in three years!

London 1500m Night

1500m night - 7On June 20th I piled into the family van with Gabriela and her sister Lucia and headed off to London, Ontario for the famed 1500m Night at the Western University track. I did my engineering degree at Western, and although I never ran for them, it still felt a little like a second home.

This was to be my second chance at racing in a competitive field. And I knew it would be competitive with my #1 training partner and speedy lady, Gabriela beside me. We had a plan; make the rabbit work and go through the 800 in 2:16 or faster and work together from 800 to 1300 and then kick and fight it out!

We went through in 65 and then started to slow down and split 2:16, unfortunately we were still slowing down as we went through 1100m. We picked it up with 400 to go, but trying to stick to the race plan of kick with 200 we unfortunately did not pick it up enough. I was out kicked by speedy G in the last 200.

It was great to run another solid 4:18 and to know I could split that fast going into Nationals. I really felt great going through 1100m and know that I just need to start picking it up with 500 to go.

Video of this race can be found here.

2014 National Track and Field Championships

Start Line - FinalsMoncton was the host city again for the 2014 Canadian Championships. The track facilities were amazing, a beautiful mondo track, a 200m mondo warmup track beside it, and a 200m indoor track adjacent to both. And with the heat and humidity the indoor track is where I hid most of the time.

This year was an exceptional year for competition and the meet directors decided to host a semi-final and final. I was really intimidated to run heats and finals; I haven’t done that since high school! I just was not sure what to expect in the heats. Would be people go out super hard? Would people try and hammer just to make finals? While I’ve had a lot of great workouts, I don’t have a ton of experience racing, let alone racing with fierce competition to the finish line.

My heat went out so slow (slower than the my 3000m race!). I knew I didn’t stand a chance in a foot race with 200 to go so I moved up in the pack and pushed the 2nd lap. Nicole Sifuentes, seeded #1, was right there with me. With 600m left she pushed the pace again and I went with her, along with more of the pack. Again with 400m to go she pushed the pace and I again went with her, but this time it strung the pack out. My goal was to be in one of the automatic qualifying spots, top 4. I eased up with 50m to go, crossed 2nd just behind Nicole.

It was nap time and time to get my legs to recover for the final.

The final was just under 24hours after the heats. I had no idea what to expect in the final. Would it go out super fast with Nicole and Kate, who have both run sub 4:08? Would it go out slow and come down to a foot race?

The pace went out at around 69s for the first 400. Much faster than the day before but still a bit slow. My legs felt like they were still waking up so I appreciated the slightly slower pace. I got myself into position and made sure I was up near the front in case of any attacks.

FinalsNicole and Kate took over the pace at the 800m and started pushing. I followed in behind with Jenna Westaway and Carise Thompson on my shoulder. Before the race I had talked with my coach about staying with Jenna and Carise, but if I left it too late and it came down to a foot race then there speed from the 800 would get me.

With 400 to go Nicole and Kate took off. I was right behind Jenna pushing the pace, Carise right behind me. It was a grueling 400 but I did not take off when I should have. It came down to a foot race with 200 to go. And I tried, and tried, and tried to make my legs go faster.

In the end I was a 5th, with a new PB of 4:16.26. It was an awesome experience to be back in the mix at Nationals; I have never been this competitive at them before. One day at a time. One workout at a time. One race at a time. I’m loving the training, my training partners, and everything about it.

Next up… I’m off to Europe on July 8th to race!