Sunday, March 25, 2012

Back in the USA

My travels to the land down under finally came to an end and I made the long trek back to the Upper Valley last week.  It feels good to be back in familiar training grounds and with the help of a bizarre early spring heat wave, all the trails are open and dry.  The grill has already been fired up and the bocce set has been dusted off and put to good use- there is nothing better than a little recreating to enjoy the transition to spring.
Now that I am healthy and injury free, it is time to put the nose back to the grindstone and begin my prep for my next major race- my second attempt at the 10k on the track.  Last year, in my debut, things did not go well.  A combination of illness, inadequate rest, and the strange conundrum of being “too fit” for my own stubborn good (resulting in unknowingly overreaching in workouts) culminated in a disappointing finish and an eventual visit to the hospital.  This year, I hope to learn from my mistakes and toe the line ready to run the race I know that I can.  The race is a little over a month away at Stanford University, giving me plenty of time to recoup what I lost due to my strained soleus.
With the sun out, trails open and calf healed, I am beginning to itch to be able to get the season underway.  This is a year with a lot on the line and every day I become more and more excited to see where I stack up.  It's going to be a good year.
Until next time,

Monday, March 12, 2012

Rust Buster

Last weekend I began my 2012 racing season.  After being sidelined by injury and having to scratch from my two previously scheduled meets, I was excited yet timid toeing the line.  The first race of the year is always a tough one.  The body likes to forget the pain and discomfort associated with racing causing the first race back to be a rather rude awakening.  Adding to that, and the fact that due to my strained calf I had only completed a handful of workouts consisting of anything more than easy jogs in over a month, well, I was skeptical.  But, I am a competitor and this is my job- so despite what ill-fate reason should have me thinking, I tried best as I could to pump myself and keep a positive mind going into the race.
Having been staying in Canberra for the last few weeks, I took a quick and easy flight to Melbourne for the Melbourne Track Classic, an event that would serve as Australia’s Olympic Trials.  The day of the race arrived to gloomy skies threatening rain- and they did not disappoint.  Luckily for me, Canberra had been suffering from flash flooding and days of heavy rain, so I was well prepared and the night’s drizzle was a welcomed relief from the torrential downpours I had been training in.
The race went off with only a slight hitch- the field false started and we were called back to the line- and it felt good to finally be able to open the legs up and get into race mode.  Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that this was my first race of the season (and first time running with others) as even though I was one of the larger fellas in the race, I was pushed around and couldn’t seem to be able to hold my position in the pack.  Finding myself further back than I desired, I tried to keep my head about me, and slowly worked myself up lap after lap as runners began to fade and gaps began to form.  I felt surprisingly good and relaxed and was enjoying myself immensely throughout the race.  I did make one grave tactical error, that of not immediately covering the eventual winner Craig Mottram and second place finisher Collis Birmingham’s move with 2km to go, but overall I was happy with my third place finish and time of 13:26.  While this time was not what I wanted going into the race (I am still looking for the Olympic “A” of 13:20), given the circumstances, recent setbacks, and how the race played out, it was a decent opener.
After the race it was fun to see the throngs of little kids that mobbed us runners, demanding autographs and trying to rip off your hip numbers and name bibs to keep as souvenirs.  The crowd support at the meet was fantastic, and it was great to be able to take part in the festivities.  From here, I will return to the Upper Valley next week to continue my preparations for this year’s Olympic Trials.  It has been great to get in some warm weather training, get my injury under control and to get the body used to racing again.  This first race reaffirms that I am on the right path, but I still have a long way to go.  So let the journey begin.
Until next time,