California Dreamin’: Week 1

IMG_5913Last Tuesday I hoped on a plane to head to California for an unknown amount of time. It’s fairly intimidating to pack up and head out for a trip that you aren’t really sure when it’s going to end! But, I was coming out to run one of my bucket list races, The Mt. SAC Relays.

I didn’t quite open up the way I had wanted to. It was a bit of a rough start. With a little reflection I see what a great season opener it was. As an older runner I have to remember that just like my warm up, it takes me at least one race to get back into it.

Mt. SAC Relays
IMG_5922The Mt SAC Relays are a spring staple on the NCAA circuit. They are races that I had always dreamed of being a part of. Last season when things started to come together again I said to myself that I would be on the 1500m start line in 2015. And I make made that dream come true.

Leading up to Mt. SAC wasn’t great. I had an unfortunate incident with my right foot and my Plantar Fasciitis tried to tear. It was a very painful and teary moment, but I knew trying to do the workout was not a good idea. I packed up, went straight to my favourite physio, and nursed it back to health over the last few weeks.

That injury though meant no speed and some loss of sharpness. Going into Mt. IMG_5919SAC I just did not feel like myself. Even in my accelerations leading right up to the race I just couldn’t find my stride.

When the gun went off I tried to put that all out of my mind and focus on the race. I got myself into a good position; it wasn’t easy with 16 girls on the line and a fight for the front of the pack. I zoned in and focused on what I was doing, tried to stay relaxed and cover all moves. But my legs just felt heavy, full of lead, and not committed to what my brain was telling them so desperately to do.

As with most 1500’s with 400 to go the pace really picked up. I went with the IMG_5927girls and stayed with the front pack. But at 200 when my kick normally hits second gear my legs just said no. I felt like I was going backwards, like every step was in quick sand. G had a fabulous race and used her awesome kick, and went flying by me with 50m to go. Afterwards she even commented how I just didn’t look like myself.

I’ll take it. That was my fastest 1500m ever and a great season opener. Hopefully feeling that bad and racing that fast means good things to come. I have my eyes on what’s ahead. I learned from that race and I know my kick will be back.

Long Beach
The plan all along had been to run an 800m on the Saturday after Mt. SAC. After my disappointing race (not based on time, based on feel), my confidence was really shaken. I did not believe that I had the speed or the kick for an 800. I waffled back and forth in my head about can I do this, will I fail, should I just not race.

I am a fighter. I am not a quitter. And like many other things in life I asked myself, ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ Really all it was, I might run slow, I might not run the time I wanted, it might not be my best day. I had nothing to lose by starting the race. We were cautious with my foot injury and if there was any [orthopaedic] pain I was to stop immediately but I felt totally fine warming up.

To the line we went. The first section (of 11!) was almost all Canadian runners. Lining up with my friends I kept telling myself, ‘it’s just a workout, go have fun.’ The gun went and again I got myself tucked into a good position. I sat on Celia Peter’s shoulders; she is a fabulous 800m runner and I knew she would get herself into good position on the first lap.

IMG_5935When we went through 300 I felt great, my stride felt smooth again, and I felt like myself. I moved up as the bell went and got myself tucked behind a group of girls. With 250m to go Gabriela made a move and I committed to going with her. She got a bit of a jump on me and I had a few meters to gain on her. G’s unfaltering commitment drove her forward and she fought so hard to kick from there. She held me off at the line. We both had PB’s again. And finally I felt like myself.

IMG_5937Plus I feel a little tougher with the war wound I brought home! I also should give credit to Rol, he had planned to have these flowers arrive on the Friday before the 1500; I have to say they made me feel so much better on Saturday morning after my tough Friday night. Thanks babe!

I am so proud of my teammate Gabriela. Two new shiny PB’s and has made her IMG_5920mark for the FISU Games this summer in South Korea. She has headed home and I’ll miss her when I step on the track for workouts.

I too have two new shiny PB’s. While I was disappointed in how I felt on Friday at Mt. SAC I am extremely excited to have a new PB in the 1500. Given how I felt on Saturday at the 800m I know I’ve made the right decision to stay down in California to race and train.

I’ve booked my flight and I’m here now until May 15th! My one month adventure is going to be awesome. Filled with amazing training, working hard on and off the track, fun road trips up and down the coast, and the #TheTourDeCali. I’ve hooked up with Celia Peters, another awesome fast Canuck. Follow Celia Peters and I as we take on California (#sashandceliagoadventuring).