It’s been almost 9 months since I’ve been on the track, and it feels really good to be back bringing the bread. Before I get to the race, I’ll go into more detail of why my season is starting so late.
In late January, I was recovering from a nagging ankle injury I had since the middle of December. I had just started running again, and 10 days into my training something went wrong with my IT band. Still not really sure what happened, but it wasn’t good. I couldn’t walk or run without being in a huge amounts of pain, and it made training difficult. I was unsure if I would actually have a track season this spring. I was working with an athletic trainer for over an hour every day on rehab, going for 28 mile long rides on my bike, and simulating track workouts on an elliptical. Mentally, it was tough to have such good training in the fall to having to prepare for not running at all in the spring. Literally going nowhere on stationary machines also took its toll because it was hard to find the positives in my training, and it was tough to go to practice to watch the team leave you behind for their morning run. Looking at it now, if I had started my running a week or two later, I wouldn’t have had enough training to run this race yesterday so I’m extremely lucky with the timing of everything. My training to get here wasn’t much easier. After my coach, athletic trainer, and I decided that I was okay to start running again, I was ramping up the training nearly 20 miles every week. We’d throw in tempos, fartleks, and track work, that was pushing the physical limits of what I should have been doing at the time. I was treading a fine line between having more high quality training and pushing my body further than I should have, and that’s obvious from the shin splints I’ve had for the past week. So that’s the insight of what’s been going on with my season and where my mind is going into this race.
We drove down on Wednesday with a largely uneventful car ride, with a lot of The Byrds that Charlie keep requesting, and not much else. Thursday included a nice shakeout with Coach Wick in the morning and then a lazy day in the hotel as I was trying to recover for a slight cold I had. I just had to make sure I was all ready to go for my race Friday.
We left the hotel Friday at 4:15pm, and drove to El Camino College for my race at 6:55pm. The weather was pretty close to perfect with a good temperature but a little bit of a wind down the backstretch. I did my 20 minute warmup, did some light hurdle drills and a few test jumps on the turf to make sure my shin wasn’t going to bother me today. With a good warmup a lot of nerves and a brief sense of calm, I headed to the hipping tent to go out to the track.
The race started out fast. I went straight the back of the pack and rolled through the 200m mark at 36 seconds, but that was okay with me because I knew what times I needed to run (71 seconds per lap). If I got too caught up in the pack, then I was a little afraid that I would blow up. I moved through the first full lap (600m) at 70.13 with clean barriers and a clear path to the water jump. I stayed exactly where I needed to be and kept clipping off the times that I needed to run while keeping the pack right in front of me. My lap splits couldn’t have been any more perfect than doing this in a workout. 36, 70, 71, 71, 71, 72, 71, 67. There was probably only three of four bad hurdles on the day and two of those were on the last lap. With two laps to go, I just focused on maintaining my speed and picking off the people as they slowed up a little bit. With 300m to go in the race, I really started to move up. I passed a group of people on the outside, had probably my worst water jump in a long time, and had very poor form on the last barrier. I was tired, everything was burning, and I was struggling to breathe, but I finished just a second off my time last year with an 8:54.39. This time should also take me to the first round of NCAA Nationals (yes we have that this year).
I’ve feel like I have a huge weight lifted off my shoulders from running a race without any pain, doing it with 5 weeks of training, and potentially getting a qualifying mark for first round of nationals. Now I get the next six weeks to focus on my training and hopefully move onto the final round of nationals. I’ll be back in a few weeks with another race, so I’ll be back soon.