Tuesday 9 June 2015

Spring Adventures

Its my favourite time of the year – spring track season! Nothing gets me more excited than training outside in the sunshine, refuelling with some froyo, and being reunited with friends at the first few races of the year. It’s spring track, baby!

I opened my season at the Payton Jordan Invitational in Palo Alto, California. This track meet is infamous for its low key atmosphere and blazing times. Everyone who races here has one objective in mind : to run fast. A large Canadian contingency descended on Palo Alto from Flagstaff, excited to see how our training over the past few weeks at altitude would pay off. For most, this was the first “real” race of the season. Apparently the altitude camp worked! One by one Canadians posted astonishingly fast times, setting National records, world qualifiers, and massive personal bests – the evening was electric with each awesome performance fuelling others.
Don't let our pretty in pink fool you 

 I was pretty nervous for my 5000m race, not because I didn’t think I was fit, I did, but I didn’t want to squander a great opportunity. After hearing how fantastic my fellow Canuck friends were doing, I had a sneaking suspicion that I’d have a good night, and luckily I was right! My race had a deep field of ladies and two pacers, so I decided to tuck into the back of the lead pack and move up whenever I could. I ran 72.x seconds per lap over and over, slowly passing racers as they tired. By the final lap, only two Africans were ahead of me, but they were far far ahead (fast ladies!!). In the homestretch an American, Nicole Tully, sprinted past me and I ended up finishing 4th in a personal best time of 15:06.44 which I was thrilled with! This time is under IAAF standard, meaning that I am likely qualified for the Pan Am games and World Championships later this summer.

After the race and month away at camp, I headed home to rejoin my club for some training. Calgary air has never felt so oxygenated!!  I thought I’d be home for a while, but a while ended up only being three weeks.

While in Flagstaff, I received an email inviting me to participate in the Austria Women’s Run 5km road race in Vienna. This is one of the largest Women-only runs in the world, with      33 000 participants as well as an international elite section. It’s pretty awesome that Vienna has made running a 5km so trendy – the race even offers free interval training sessions in the weeks prior and over 200 people routinely show up. Wicked!! Initially I declined as it’s a bit of a trek to get to Vienna, but my coach and I formulated a plan to run this race as well as a few others overseas. Because I’ve already run under IAAF standard, I can use my next few races to gain experience without the pressure having to run a certain time, and tackling the European track circuit seemed like a great way to achieve this.
It was non-alocholic

I arrived in Vienna and was greeted by the race director at the airport with flowers in hand. I spent the next few days exploring the city, running in the Praterstad (the Central Park of Vienna), and hanging out with the other elite ladies from Austria, Portugal, Sweden, Italy, and Kenya. In spite of its unfathomable number of participants, this is easily one of the best organized races I’ve ever attended, and I left feeling like a superstar! I was happy to win with a new 5km road personal best of 15:32, and fulfilled a lifelong desire of sipping from a massive beer mug. It was an honour to take part and I’m so grateful for the experience – thanks Österreichischer Frauenlauf!! 

Working out in Loerrach, Germany

Up next, I’m jumping in with the sharks and running my Diamond League race – the Oslo Bislett Games 5000m! The Diamond League is the highest level of annual track and field meets around the world and I’m excited to line up beside some really really fast ladies. This is also the 50th anniversary of the Bislett games, and 65 world records have been set it Bislett Stadium. So much history to soak up! After that, I’m headed to Rabat, Morocco for a 3000m and yet another change of scenery before heading home. Let the adventure roll on!

I got to spend a week with my former WVU teammate Ahna Lewis in Germany between races!

International athletes out for dinner before the race

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