Pac-12s

Sorry I’ve been MIA for the last few weeks, everything has been picking up at the same time. Rather than trying to  juggle everything, I’ve been focusing on training and allowing everything else to fall into place. I became a little overwhelmed with everything and wanted to find time to do a little soul searching. I’ll get to the important parts, but I want to share something valuable I’ve learned while searching–stop trying to be perfect at everything. People always told me “You can do three things great, no more”, so I tried being perfect at 3 things: running, school, and work. It was exhausting, I wanted one of them to stop, but then I realised I cannot pour all my energy into all three of these, so I searched within myself to prioritize them. I mentioned in my first post about the importance and relevance of running to my life– it means everything to me.

Over the course of this year I have made a lot of life-style changes in order to embody the life of an elite athlete. Things have been seeming to click, but they have also been fleeting. After the Washington Invitational, I was knocked off travel until PAC-12s, which was both discouraging and motivating. It was discouraging in the sense that I have been putting in so much work, yet the results were not showing in my performance; I was in the back end of workouts and feeling fatigue by the end of the weeks. Not going to Wisconsin was motivating in the sense that I knew I belonged on the travel squad and I was ready to prove it. Most of my running career has been about proving something, and I was ready to take on another endeavor.

In my recent post, I talked about starting to train with our new freshman, Carolina. I’ve continued running with her on our regular days and will run about 7:15-7:30 for my long runs, usually ending up alone. I’ve also added new weights into my schedule since I haven’t been able to get them in consistently on my own since we returned from Mammoth and was noticing signs of weaknesses popping up. Our regular runs have been great, but my fitness has not shown any promise in the workouts. For some reason I haven’t been able to stay with the girls on the entire workout. I knew it was something mental, but just not how to overcome it. The best I could do was remind myself of all the hard work I’ve put in and how I am a racer– I love to race.

Leading up to today’s race, in order to avoid any stomach complications– which tends to be a major issue with me– I ate simple meals throughout the week. I also put a greater emphasis on sleep. The previous week I struggled getting proper sleep and I wanted to make sure I made up last week’s debt and earned more. I kid you not, I got 12 hours Tuesday night and 9 Wednesday, so I definitely aced the sleep department. Tuesday’s workout showed some promise. We had a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, fartlek and I was up front for the 5, 4, and part  of the 3 minutes; after that it went down hill. My coach was quite proud of the workout nevertheless and I assured him the race would be much different.

I felt different this time. I felt more confident than previous races, almost as though I could conquer the world. Okay, backtrack… I forgot my spikes. Yes, of all the things to forget, I forgot one of the two most important cross country essentials. I wasn’t going to let this stress me out, so I reached out to our equipment manager as well as my roommate back home to see if they could overnight them without my coach knowing. Unfortunately, they could not and my spikes would not make it in time for the race, so I reached out to my coach. I know at any other race he would be more upset– but he’s also dealt with worst from me– so he was actually quite understanding, considering the circumstances, and we went out to find me a pair. Let me tell you now, good luck finding Adidas spikes in Moscow, Idaho. We found a random pair of spikes that happened to be the last ones around and barely fit; beggars can’t be choosers, so we bought them.

My plan was simple: be aggressive, go out with our top 5 girls and after the 2k start making moves. By the 1k, I was in position and was feeling great. I kept my mind blank and just focused on the girls around me. After the 2k, I decided I would start moving up and pick bodies because I did not feel comfortable waiting until the 3k. I saw a few of our blue uniforms in sight and decided to work towards them. By the 4k, I was with our fourth girl and saw our number three and two girls near. Because they were close to one another, I committed to getting with one of them, Julia, and encourage her to go with me. I could tell she had a cramp and was hoping that getting with her would be motivating and began inching up towards Aliya. Oddly enough, I was feeling great and before I knew it, I was in our number two position for the team. In the distance I could hear our volunteer coach, Katja, yelling for me to go, so I started pushing more. Pushing hurt, I had a little over a half mile to go but I wanted so badly to catch the two girls in front of me. I kicked, which my coach claims is the first time he has ever seen me kick (guess he missed the Washington Invite finish), but was unable to kick harder than the two girls. I finished the 6k in 21:39 and 65th place. All I remember from the finish was feeling overwhelmed with emotions; I felt as though I won the PAC-12 Championships. This feeling came from my season not ending here, it came from proving to myself and others that I am capable of more, and most importantly it came from knowing I had even more left in my tank.

I’ve worked extremely hard to be where I am today. These last few years have been a mixture of high and lows, long hours of work and juggling my training. Two years of being injured and I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. This gives me confidence in my dreams like never before, though I’ve been struggling in workouts I did not let that define what I am capable of. It’s crazy to think merely soul searching and putting my priorities in order made a world of a difference in my performance. Positivity is definitely the key to success, having faith in yourself– and for me, faith in God. At some point in the race I was hurting. I can’t remember when, but I remember negative thoughts tried creeping in. I started praying, I prayed hard and then thought of positive things; before I knew it I was flying.