Ok, technically it’s really called Olympic Trials, but when you don’t have standard, you go and race it like any other nationals.
This year I decided that with my rough spring that I was going to race the 5000 and 1500 at Nationals. I wanted another crack at the 5000, since I haven’t felt like I’ve been able to finish the race stepping off the track feeling positive. Yes, overall the races have been positive, but there is something about crossing the line knowing that you did it right.
5000m – Thursday July 7th
The 5000 was a straight final. We had 17 ladies in the race and I ended up with lucky number 17! I had the most outer starting position, which meant I also had the best view of how the race was going out. Championship racing is different; it’s tactical, it’s all about position and where you finish, so naturally these races tend to go out slower. The 5000 followed suit and our first kilometre was 3:20 pace! Slllllloooow, which for a lady coming from the speed side is awesome, just wait to sit and kick.
My game plan was to get myself into position and do no work, meaning sit on the rail and let other people lead the race. I followed that tactic and stayed as close to the rail as possible. After about 2300m Rachel Cliff decided to take the lead and put in a bit of a surge. I happened to be in the right spot and tucked in just behind as she made her move and was pulled along with the line of ladies. We were ~8 seconds faster over the next lap when Rachel took over, so it split apart the pack.
I used a cycling tactic, since surges are a huge part of cycling. I told my legs they were fine, to relax and do their thing. And they did. With about 1km to go Andrea and Jess went to the front and I tucked in behind. From there Jess and Andrea started to push the pace. With 1 lap to go Andrea made her move and I went with her, it felt just like practice, but this time Andrea didn’t make too early a move at 300. She really picked it up with 200 to go and I knew I had to get around Jess, so I did coming around the last bend. Our last lap was 65 (our last kilometre 2:57), and I think most of that speed was in the last 200.
Andrea and I finished 1-2. I am teary writing this. Andrea stamped her ticket to Rio (that big event in the southern hemisphere this August! lol). Won her first Sr. National title on the track. And was right there when I finished to give me a high-five and a hug. Andrea has been the best addition to my life in the last year. I am so thankful to have her in my life and so proud of all she has accomplished thus far, and I know there is so much more to come from this awesome lady. #becausethisgreatadventurestartedwithasalad
1500 Semis – Friday July 8th
I realized the other week I love the 1500, love it! It’s just enough time for tactics and play, mixed with a great combination of speed. With the two injuries of 2016 (IT + Migraines) I just haven’t been able to really work on my speed so I had to rely more on my endurance.
The heats were posted and I was placed in the first heat with my teammate Gabriela and some other fast girls including Sheila Reid, Sarah McPherson and Kendra Pomfret. I knew the finish would be quick, again championship racing, it goes out slow. To make the final you had to be top 4 in the heat or one of the next 4 fastest times. Naturally I wanted one of those automatic, top 4 spots; so the goal was to finish somewhere in the top 4.
With a 5000m in my legs from the night before I knew that the first two laps, no matter how fast or how slow the pace would feel flat. From there it could go one of two ways, my legs could wake up or they could start to feel worse. Thankfully the former happened and it felt like my legs just wanted to go.
With about 600m to go G got to the front and controlled the pace. Knowing and trusting my teammate I went with her. Again goal was top 4 and I knew sticking with her gave me a high probability of hitting one of those spots.
G, Kendra, Sarah and I all finished within a second of each other. It must have looked like a line of girls crossing the line. I was saddened to hear before the race started that Sheila had suffered an injury to her knee. Sheila had another breakout race in the spring and looked poised to really make a strong presence at the Olympics. Sheila I wish you all the best recovering and can’t wait to see you racing and running again.
1500m Final – Saturday July 8th
I was one of the few people to enter two mid distance events. But hey I love racing, I love track, and why not?! There was no denying that my legs were fatigued, I won’t say super fatigued but there was some previous racing in them. But going into the 1500m final I was not thinking about that at all. I wanted to go out there and race with all my heart and I did.
The race was predictable championship racing, the pace was slow, we were bunched up and fighting for position, and no one really wanted to take the lead. To the front Nicole went with Hilary beside her, G and myself tucked in behind. In my head I kept thinking and reminding myself, ‘you are strong, you are not fatigued, and you can do this.’ Positive reinforcement is a great way to stay focused in the race and help you believe in what you’re doing.
Nicole controlled the race and kept the pace slow, it was going to be a kick to the finish for the win. What I failed to remember from CI’s Track in 2015 was that my top end speed is gone when I race over a few days, but just under that the next gear is ready to go and I can hold it.
With 400m to go my legs kept saying go and I told them to wait, my legs were right. I sat in and felt pretty good considering all the racing. With 200m to go I thought, ‘ok I can do this, come around the bend and go.’ But my legs just didn’t have the speed, that top gear, to go flying to the finish.
In the end I was 4th. And yes, I was disappointed, and I think that’s ok. We all want to be the best and I’m not disappointed in my result but disappointed that I don’t think I was my best on Saturday. And that’s ok too. It’s time to learn, to move forward, and to celebrate what the three people ahead of me accomplished.
Celebrate Other People’s Success
Nationals was some ups and downs, some highs and lows. Of course it is not the outcome I wanted, but one of my life mantra’s is to celebrate other people’s successes.
I could not be more happy and excited for my teammates and training partners, Gabriela Stafford and Andrea Seccafien (also both won nationals!), who have been named to the team. Watching Alicia Brown come 2nd at Trials and nail standard at the same time was the highlight of the event for me, still makes me teary just thinking about hugging her at the finish line. No one has overcome more than Alicia and no is more deserving to go (sorry biased teammate here!). There are so many others I have met along the way, Gen Lalonde, Luc Bruchet, Hil Stellingwerff, Nicole Sifuentes, Chuck PT, Erin Teschuk, Jess OC, Melissa Bishop, Anthony Romaniw, and for sure more people I am forgetting. My fellow birds, Kate Grace and Maria Mitch-Coffey, I can’t wait to see you fly.