March Madness - Gate River Run Recap and Johnny Mathis 1500

I've been struggling all month to find inspiration to update this blog... I thought my writer's block was just because I've been busy with work, training, and racing... but if I'm being honest with myself, I think the reason I've been avoiding writing is that I'm nervous.

I'm 1 week out from the Stanford Invitational, the most important race I've run in many months. Next Friday, April 6th, I'll be chasing a fast time in the 10k in the hopes of running myself to a top 24 time on the national descending order list - which will hopefully earn me an Olympic Trials qualifying spot come June. Yep, I'm a little nervous!

At any rate, inspiration to write finally struck last night while running through Golden Gate Park, headphones blasting and feet carrying me swiftly through the wooded trails. My pre-race blog will be up on the running website Flotrack next week, so check it out there sometime before the race! In the meantime, here's a recap (finally!) of what I've been up to the past month:

Gate River Run

Earlier in March I raced my first 15k at the US 15k Road Championships at the Gate River Run in Jacksonville, Florida. While the race was a great experience, my time and place -- 16th place in 54:11 -- left something to be desired. I ran most of the race alone, traversing the neighborhoods of Jacksonville by myself as the women's field strung out. As part of the race equalizer, the elite women had a 7 minute head start over the men's field; the men then chased us over the 9.3 mile course, competing for the honor of 1st across the finish line as they tried to run down the top woman (*the women triumphed - Janet Cheroban-Bawcom won!). While this race set-up makes for great competition among the genders and added fanfare for spectators, it also means that instead of duking it out with mid-pack men, the elite women often run alone.

Running alone, I struggled against strong headwinds, occasionally lapsing out of race pace and into tempo pace. I wish I'd been more aggressive in the early miles and had tried to run with the pack of Team USA Minnesota women instead of running in no man's land, where it was hard to push myself. Of course, hindsight is 20-20, but I still have a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth, wondering what could have been... Despite my regrets, I'm learning from this race. I know what I'll do differently next year and I look forward to racing there in 2013!

Final meters, trying to hold off some men (I did!) :-)
The monstrous bridge we had to cross at the end of the race. As you can see by my time, it thoroughly kicked my butt!
Although all three NBSV runners who competed at Gate River - Kate, Catha, and myself - wished we'd had better races, New Balance Silicon Valley still finished a respectable 3rd place in the team competition, taking home some prize money. More importantly, we had a great trip together! I feel so lucky to get to train, travel, and compete with such inspirational, talented women :-)

New Balance Silicon Valley - 3rd place women's team
LOVE my teammates!
San Francisco State - Johnny Mathis Invitational

Back home in SF, I had a much better race last weekend at the Johnny Mathis Invite at San Francisco State. In drenching rain and in spite of meet delays, I ran a PR in the 1500, finishing 4:27.62. The race played out perfectly, with two of the USF athletes I help coach assisting with pacing duties. Sophie and Maor brought the group through 800 meters spot on at 2:22 (thanks ladies!!).

USF senior Nicole Bowler and my teammate Catha battled it out for the top two spots while I held on for 3rd. I'm really happy with my run - it was a 5 second PR and a great way to begin the outdoor track season!

It's crazy that the outdoor season is already upon us - this next month is sure to fly by! April is make-it-or-break-it month, where athletes will try to post fast times at Stanford Invite, Mt. SAC, and Payton Jordan as we all vie for a spot on the line at the Olympic Trials in June.

As I take my first shot at the 10k next week, look for my pre-race blog on Flotrack! Until then, run joyfully!