Where the Magic Happens

Oh hello blog, it's been a while! Life has been simply CRAZY lately and before I knew it, April was over! Before we get too far into May, here's a rundown of my big race at Stanford last month...

At the beginning of the month I made the annual pilgrimage to Palo Alto, where runners seeking fast times go for the always-perfect weather and Stanford's magical track. And on April 4, magic happened in my 10k. It was one of those glorious, joyful races where everything just comes together. These races are few and far between, so when you find yourself in the middle of one, you best take advantage of it (aka RUN FAST!) and also ENJOY it, which I did.

In the days leading up to the race, I didn't know if I could run well, as things had been a bit crazy... work was INSANE, I almost missed my flight to CA, and my pre-race run was a whopping 3 miles on the treadmill with a few pickups thrown in. Talk about not ideal race prep. The 36 hours before the race were nutty, but hey, that's pretty much how my life usually is, so I tried not to let it get to me.

And I guess I succeeded! Despite life's madness, on the warmup my legs felt light, airy, fast. On the starting line, I felt scary good. I was afraid to dream… I knew that the night could be special, so long as I stayed calm and didn’t do anything stupid.

The gun went off and I found my spot comfortably in the middle of the pack. I maintained composure as the pace fluctuated between too fast and too slow. Finally we settled into a steady stream of 79s, clicking off the laps.

My group came through 5k in 16:37, on pace for my 33:20 goal and feeling good. As I looked ahead on the track, I realized that I was no longer running mid-pack but rather I’d worked my way into the top 10. Eyes up, I got hungry, moving to the front of my group and trying to run people down. It’s been a while since I’ve been in the hunt, and it was FUN! Let’s race, I said to myself.

Then, with a mile to go, fear and doubt crept into my head… those vicious little buggers! I began to worry that I’d gotten ahead of myself – had I gotten greedy and had made a move to soon? Horrible scenes of hitting the wall filled my mind… what if I bonked on the final lap and didn’t make it across the finish line? Self-doubt won out as my pace slowed to 80s and 81s, and my group pulled away from me.

 

With a lap to go I finally snapped out of it. Gritting my teeth, I made a hard drive to make up the ground I’d lost. Closing in 74 – my fastest lap – I reeled in 2 girls on the homestretch to finish 8th in a season best of 33:14. I was ecstatic! 

After my last 10k on the track (USA’s in 2013, where I suffered through Des Moines’s heat and ran 36:30… gah) and after apunishing winter in Ohio, I could not have been happier with my run at Stanford. The Kaitlin from 2012 is back – almost to the second, in fact! (I ran 33:16 here 2 years ago.) It has been a long road back, and I’ve come close to throwing in the towel a few times. But when you have races like this one, you remember why you do this and why it’s all worth it.

 Post-race with Ohio training partner Nicole Camp and NBSV teammate Steph Dinius

Post-race with Ohio training partner Nicole Camp and NBSV teammate Steph Dinius

So this Sunday I’m back to Stanford, looking for some more magic to happen. The script is the same – work chaos, life craziness, racing to the airport at the last minute – but I’m hopeful I can pull out another big run. It’s Payton Jordan time, sub-33 time, PR time!