Overcoming obstacles... making strides toward success!

Today I toed the line at my alma mater, UC Davis, running the 1500 meters at Aggie Open. The 1500 is not my specialty, but Coach/Dad and I felt that it would be a good tune-up before my 10K at Stanford Invite in 2 weeks. It's been a year since I've run a 1500 (I ran 4:35.50 at Aggie Open in 2010) so today we were hoping for a PR and a solid opener to my outdoor season. 

However, I wasn't feeling 100% going into this race, so I was a little nervous about how things would shake out. Also, racing at my home track -- in front of family, friends, and former teammates, back in my hometown -- brought on a fair bit of anxiety. My last race was far from stellar and I've been battling confidence issues, so I was nervous about having another bad race and failing right before everyone's eyes.

I also felt like I had something to prove with this race -- I had to prove to people that I do have what it takes to be a professional runner and that this path that I've chosen is the right one. In order to prove that I belonged, I had to have a GREAT day on the track today. Thankfully, I was able to put my doubts behind me, overcome nerves and step up to the line with a clear mind.

Start of the 1500
The first 400 felt effortless and easy, a feeling I haven't had in a race in a long time. The rabbit pulled us through the first lap slightly under pace, in 71. I was lucky to have my New Balance teammate Stephanie helping with pacing duties, and after 400 meters she took control of the race and brought me through 800 meters in great position. When she stepped off the track I took the lead, dropping the pace yet still running in control. At the bell lap I still held the lead and continued pressing the pace, but with 200 to go two USF girls stepped on the gas and I couldn't go with them. With 100 to go I thought that maybe I had a chance to catch one of them, but in the final 50 meters I was pretty much out of gas. Still, I closed in 71 for a final time of 4:31.41, a 4-second PR and good for 3rd place (http://home.surewest.net/zenrider/2011/Aggie_Open/). Not bad for a 10K girl! I was very happy with the effort -- I overcame a number of obstacles to have a solid start to the outdoor season.

Leading on lap 3
After changing out of my spikes, Steph and I headed out to the roads, a cooldown for Steph and 3 x mile at tempo for me. When the day's work was finally all done, we went to lunch at Pluto's with Sara Hall, celebrating her win and Steph's 2nd place in the 2K steeple and my 3rd place in the 1500. After lunch I went back to the track to cheer on former Aggie teammates and visit with Davis friends. Now, I'm at home getting some much-needed rest and recovery after today's big day.

Today was a stepping stone for me in many ways. One, I wasn't feeling 100% leading up to this race, but I was able to put that distraction, as well as my nerves, out of my mind. Two, I competed today. I raced, ran aggressively, and went for the win. It's been a long time since I've raced this way and it felt great to get the competitive juices flowing again. Three, I had fun! It was an all-around great day at the track -- joyful and fun, just as running should be. It's wonderful to be back in that place.

Many thanks to my teammate Steph for providing not only pacing but also many positive words of encouragement :) Also a big thank you to my ever-supportive parents and to my lovely former roommate Britt who came to cheer. Lastly, a big shout-out to my NBSV teammates who raced across the country today -- Annie at Gate River 
in Florida and everyone else at the Juana Run in Palo Alto -- go team!

Next up -- 10K at Stanford Invite on March 25 :)