Marathon Woman: A Book Review

I’ve read countless tales about and by running legends, from Kenny Moore’s accounts of Bill Bowermen’s “Men of Oregon” and Steve Prefontaine’s gutsy, record-setting runs, to 1968 Boston winner Amby Burfoot’s methodical training and years of eloquent writing on the sport, to Frank Shorter’s famous Olympic marathon victory in 1972 sparking the Running Boom of the 1970s, to Bill Rodgers’ three straight victories in the Boston Marathon, to the unforgettable “Duel in the Sun” between Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley in the 1982. I’ve drawn so much inspiration from these stories and have found myself both in awe of and in many ways relating to the runners they’re about. It wasn’t until a friend asked for some inspirational book recommendations that it dawned on me that these were all stories about men.

Marathon Woman (Revised)

Earlier this year, I was sent a copy of a revised edition of Marathon Woman: Running the Race to Revolutionize Women’s Sports by marathoner, sports commentator, and author, Kathrine Switzer. I knew a bit about Kathrine’s story, namely the famous incident in which race official Jock Semple attempted to bulldoze Switzer off the Boston Marathon course in 1967. He was unsuccessful, as Switzer’s boyfriend, a nationally-ranked hammer thrower, shoved Semple to the ground. Switzer went on to become the first-ever woman to finish the Boston Marathon with a numbered entry.

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There’s Kathrine Switzer wearing bib 261, Jock Semple in black, her boyfriend Tom (bib 390) and her coach Arnie Briggs (bib 490). Photos by Harry Trask.

What I didn’t know was anything about Kathrine’s story leading up to that moment. When she began running, it was at her father’s suggestion in order to get in shape for her school’s field hockey team. She relished in being fit and enjoyed the success it brought her on the field, plus she found herself going from being a skinny kid to a strong, athletic woman. She had few female role models to look up to and was instead captivated by photos of the statue of Diana the Huntress as she was both athletic and feminine, just like Switzer.

Switzer raced as one of two women on the men’s track team at Lynchburg College, then she transferred to Syracuse University where she trained with the men’s team but couldn’t race, as women weren’t allowed in the NCAA conference. It was there that she met Arnie Briggs, who would become her training partner and coach. Despite running day after day with Briggs, and him believing in Switzer as a capable runner, she still had to convince him that a woman was capable of running a full marathon by running the 26.2 mile distance in a training run. It was only then that he believed her and helped her register for Boston under the name K.V. Switzer.

The altercation with Jock Semple on the Boston Marathon course along with Switzer’s finish as the first-ever registered woman to finish Boston thrust Switzer into the limelight, albeit unintentionally, as a pioneer. She found herself with a platform and part of a growing network of competitive women in the sport. The book takes you through her journey as a not only a runner, but as a journalist, entrepreneur, and advocate for women’s running. She co-founded the first women’s only road race, the New York Mini 10K, along with creating the Avon International Running Circuit of women’s only races in 27 countries which convinced the International Olympic Committee to adopt the first women’s Olympic Marathon in 1984.

I learned from reading this book the power of courage and persistence. Switzer prided herself on being annoying, from her conviction to her ability to run a marathon (and run it well) to getting her ideas heard in the male-dominated world of event directing, marketing, and sports journalism. It made me think of my own role in the sport as an athlete and coach- how I can both represent and support women in the sport by being an advocate and a role model myself. I’ll start by recommending this book. I got all fired up with my own ideas after reading it and I think you will too.

In other news, speaking of coaching and being a role model, I’m thrilled to share I just took on a role as Assistant XC Coach at a brand new high school in the Beaverton School District, Mountainside HS! I always knew I wanted to coach high school one day. Who knew this year would be the year? I can’t wait to meet the runners as we begin summer practice and help build the program from the ground up. Go Mavs!

Roots and Blossoms

Last weekend I had the pleasure of shooting with photographer, runner, and fellow Portlander Bobby Rivera. We met while working at Portland Running Company and he recently landed a gig at Columbia Sportswear! This is one of my favorite shoots I’ve ever done. We began at the waterfront where the cherry blossoms had just begun to bloom.

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Next, I took Bobby to a section of my every day running route on NW Cornell Road, bright green moss galore.

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Finally, we landed in a gravel path behind the Washington Park Amphitheater, my very favorite spot in Portland. This photo to me, with all the lush green trees, is emblematic of my roots in Oregon (I was born in Salem) and its rich history of running, fittingly complete with Nike trainers. Huge thank you to Bobby for capturing that so beautifully.

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Running-wise, things have been looking up. I’m feeling healthy and all the nagging little pings and tweaks have been subsiding. I’ve been getting a lot stronger thanks to Tracey Katona, who I met through Kara Goucher’s Podium Retreats. Tracey owns Katona Pilates in Beaverton and she’s been whipping me into shape this winter. She’s intent on helping me align my wonky hips and posture—and it’s working!

Next on my radar is the Corvallis Half Marathon which is already coming up next weekend (you might notice a familiar face on their homepage)! On the one hand, I feel nowhere near prepared to race a half marathon. I haven’t gone beyond 40 miles in one week since January and my longest run this year was 14 miles last weekend. Zilch speed work. On the other hand, I’m feeling optimistic after running a solid 15K at Shamrock earlier this month. Part of me wonders if I can match that pace in the half. Just another 3.8 miles. NBD, right?


Friday Gems are coming at you early this week- here’s what I’ve got!

I have to give it to David Willey, Editor-in-Chief of Runner’s World, for putting his goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon out into the world and chronicling his journey via the Runner’s World Show. He’s working with the same team conducting Nike’s “Breaking2” project, in which three runners will be attempting to finish a marathon in under two hours. Not only does he have a team of technical professionals behind him to get him physically prepared for the attempt, but he has also received help on the psychological side from Dr. Robert Swoap. He recorded their session for the podcast (episode 46), which struck me as a deeply vulnerable thing to do. I really took to heart the advice and coping strategies Dr. Swoap offered, including visualizing how you’re going to react when things don’t go as planned.

Speaking of the psychological side of running, you’ll see the full scope of the mental ups and downs of completing a 100 mile race in Billy Yang’s documentary Life in a Day, where he follows the journey of four women vying for the win at the Western States. I was particularly moved by Devon Yanko‘s back story, from her origins in how she came to running, monstrosities she overcame at a young age, and how it has all shaped her into who she is today.

“It has been 9 years since I first ran the Boston Marathon. I still have never watched any race footage, it is still difficult to talk about. In fact, I am teary eyed as I type this out. But I have forgiven myself for not winning. Not only have I forgiven myself, but I have learned to appreciate Boston 2009. Over the years people have told me that it was the most inspiring race they saw, me going for it, fighting for the win. That has helped heal me and value what I did that day. I didn’t cross the line first, but I gave it all I had. I let everyone in, and they weren’t disappointed in me. They knew I did the best I could and that was enough.” -Kara Goucher on her first experience running the Boston Marathon. I’ve written it before, but I am among those who consider that run the most inspiring they’ve seen. Kara made it no secret that she wanted to win that year and she fought for it tooth and nail. She’s known for wearing her heart on her sleeve, but there’s no doubt she’s one of the fiercest competitors out there, evidenced by that race among many more. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a great interview on where she’s at now.

And some fun news, I’m now a contributing writer at Minneapolis Running! In my first contribution, I wrote about how despite popular belief, there are shortcuts in running.

‘Til next time! -L

A Tale of Three Runners

On Saturday morning as the sun started to peek over the dusty, desert-like slopes of the Marin Headlands, I gave one last hug to each of my three shivering friends, Dani, Sarah, and Shasta before they joined a small crowd of mismatched, backpack-toting trail runners lining up for the North Face Endurance Challenge 50K. As the race got on its way, I watched the runners wind their way up and up around a bend and into the unknown.

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I quickly hopped on a shuttle and made it just in time to see the runners come flying down a hill toward the first aid station just past the fourth mile mark. My friends were each just a few minutes apart. Dani gave me the thumbs up. Shasta seemed uncertain about the whole situation and told me the course was extremely hilly. Sarah smiled and waved and asked how far ahead Shasta was (a few minutes). And then they were gone. There were no other accessible points for me to see them, I had zero cellular reception, and it would be hours until they came through the same aid station again en route to the finish. Now what?

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It was about 45 degrees out and I could no longer feel my feet, so I decided then was as good a time as any to get a run in. I begrudgingly stripped down from my triple layer of clothing to tights and a long sleeve and set off along the 50K course. I ran by a few 50K runners and offered some words of encouragement until I veered off past a sign pointing toward the coast. The new path took me to a small, deserted cove with a stunning ocean view. The sun rose higher and higher into the sky, and the temperature jumped up maybe 15 degrees. I thought of the runners who were making their way up a steep, exposed hillside not even a 1/3 of the way into their run.

After returning to the aid station, I bundled back up and was overcome by hunger. One thing I hadn’t thought of going into spectating a 50 kilometer race was how long I would be going without provisions! Luckily I had stashed some Honey Stinger waffles and a banana in my bag, plus just before the race Dani told me I could have her huge bottle of water. Life saver! I wolfed down my snacks at a picnic table, doing my best to ignore the glorious smell of cheeseburgers and fries that the group next to me had wisely brought for themselves.

The crowd at the aid station began to grow as more people drove in and I heard someone shout that the first 50 miler was coming through. You see, a 50 mile championship had already been underway for hours and the top runner, Zach Miller, was approaching the 46th mile of the race. I was struck by how unbelievably fresh and peppy he looked. And how FAST he was running. No one should look like that after 46 miles! As the next top 50 mile racers came through, men and women, it was the same thing over and over again: lean, mean, running machines bounding up the hill in the most effortless fashion. The spectators and I would just look at each other and gasp each time one of them came by. It was not logical. I was in awe.

When the 50K runners began to come through, I began to get antsy and wondered how my friends were doing. I started counting the women that had come through and made it to 11 before I spotted in the distance some familiar coral shorts and long ponytail whipping back and forth. It was Dani! I screamed then cheered her on as she charged by. I gave her space as she navigated the large table of food and sports drinks set out for the runners. For as strong as she looked out on the course, her face was full of doubt and worry. She told me she was having trouble keeping food down, that at one point she had gone off course, her leg was cramping, and that she wasn’t sure she would finish. I wanted to tell her she was almost there, but that’s probably the worst thing you can tell a runner unless there is a finish line literally right in front of them. And you shouldn’t even say it then. Just don’t do it. I told her she had another big climb ahead but that she was getting there and that she could do it. I’m not entirely sure she believed me, but onward she went.

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I ran back to my spot on the sidelines to look for Sarah and Shasta. I panicked, thinking perhaps I had missed them as I’d followed Dani through the aid station. As I scanned the runners emerging around the far off bend almost a quarter mile away, I spotted a brunette in a hot pink shirt with a hydration pack which could only be Sarah.. and wait, next to her in neon yellow shorts and a Oiselle singlet was Shasta! They were running strong and working together. I threw my hands in the air and hollered then ran toward them. They smiled and waved but as they got closer I could see they were hurting. I asked what they needed. Pretzels. Pretzels! I sprinted up ahead them toward the aid station and located the pretzels. I didn’t really know the appropriate etiquette, but I figured the organizers probably didn’t want spectators digging around in the food so I settled for pointing and saying “pretzels right here!”. After that I had no idea what to do or say. What do you say to someone who has over 4 miles left to run in a 31 mile race? I waited with them in line for the port-a-potty and listened to what they had to say about the race. They were so tired. They told me how they’d found each other and how this one certain downhill portion of the course was a bitch. Their eyes were kind of glazing over. Sarah’s leg was in pain. Shasta said she would not run up the next hill. I’m not sure they felt they could go on, but they went on!

Once they were out of sight, I hightailed it to the shuttle to make it back to the finish line. I knew I would be missing Dani’s finish, plus the cellular reception was terrible. After getting dropped off, I ran toward the mob of people in the finish area to look for her. It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. All around people were taking photos, hugging, laying in the grass… but no Dani. After circling around a few times I finally spotted a weary petite runner in pink shorts, sitting and hugging her knees in the grass. Dani!! I called out her name and she looked up, calm and smiling. I bent down and gave her a hug. She said she was doing alright… but maybe needed to puke. Minutes later, Shasta came tearing down the final stretch followed moments later by Sarah running strong and determined to the finish line. I snapped this photo of them right after they had reunited.

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I’ve never felt so proud of or more inspired by friends. They showed so much strength and grit even through their lowest moments. They went on without the certainty of knowing they could finish. They ran farther than they ever had in their lives. The next morning I would be following in their footsteps as I was entered to run the half marathon distance. It wouldn’t even be half of what they ran, but after hearing tales from the course I was slightly terrified. More on my race next time!

A Weekend With Kara

Early October was a whirlwind between racing in the Chicago Marathon, playing my first Pink Feathers show in Portland, and attending Kara Goucher’s Podium Retreat in Tucson, Arizona. I’m still willing myself to write about Chicago (it was rough), so I’m kicking off with a recap of the retreat!

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This was my second year attending Kara’s Podium Retreat. I initially signed up for it because, duh, Kara Goucher. I’ve been following her career since I began seriously running and paying more attention to the competitive running world in 2007 or so. I look up to her the most out of any runner I’ve met or read about. She’s a fiery competitor on the road and track and unlike many athletes, shows unabashed raw emotion when sharing about her experiences with training, racing, and motherhood. I could go on and on about my favorite Kara moments, but I’ll just list two:

  1. The 2009 Boston Marathon. Kara’s goal was to win and she put herself in the position to. It came down to her and two other women at the end, Dire Tune and Salina Kosgei. I remember watching on TV and seeing Kara rip off her gloves somewhere in the last mile, throw them aside, and give everything she had to the finish line. She fought right down to the wire. She placed third, which was a huge feat for an American, but she wasn’t running for third. She burst into tears after crossing the finish line, and later at the press conference said “I’m proud of how I ran. I’m proud of how I did and I raced the best that I could, but I wanted to be the one who won for everybody.”
  2. The 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials. After two life changing years, in which she went public on BBC with accusations toward her former coach for unethical practices, left her former sponsor Nike for Oiselle and Skechers among others, dealt with multiple injuries, and even considered quitting the sport altogether, Kara rebuilt herself from the ground up into top form going into the marathon trials in LA. She was ready to show the world that she was back on her own terms, and she did, finishing with a time of 2:30:24 on a blazing hot day. Only, three other women were faster and she did not make the US Olympic Team.

My intention isn’t to highlight Kara’s losses, but her true spirit in the way she handled them. She’s a fighter, she’s resilient, she wears her heart on her sleeve, she has strong convictions, and she expects only the best from herself.

I went into last year’s retreat, held in Breckenridge, Colorado, excited to learn more about training, nutrition, and everything else that goes into being a world class runner. Those things were covered, but they quickly became secondary to the core message of the retreat, which was to examine the way you treat yourself, share your story, listen to others, and make friends with a bunch of kickass women. It was completely therapeutic in a way I wasn’t expecting. I told myself then that I had to come back the next year, which brings us to the 2016 retreat in Tucson.

I went into the retreat this year without the nervous butterflies I had the year before. I had gone solo before, but this time I paired up with two roomies, Kim and Cynthia. Upon arrival, I was greeted enthusiastically by Kara’s staff and longtime friends that I had met the first year: Lottie Bildirici, founder of Running On Veggies, Anna Paffel, Dr. Amy Oldenberg, Tracey Katona, founder of Katona Pilates, and Shanna Burnette, co-founder of ModCraft. They set me up with some great swag including gear from Kara’s sponsors, Skechers, Nuun, Zensah, and Oiselle.

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Holy runner swag! I love it all, but I will say that little addaday massage tool is my new prize possession. I use it almost every day.

The first evening kicked off with a happy hour and dinner outside under twinkling lights in the gorgeous Tucson evening.

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Happy hour welcome

I got to say a quick hello and give a hug to Kara, the woman of the hour, as well as many attendees I recognized from last year. I made an effort to talk to women that looked a little unsure or were standing alone, because I’ve totally been that person. It was like summer camp all over again, or the first day back to school. Later in the evening, former retreaters were invited to come up to the microphone to share about their past experiences. I thought, “no way am I doing that.” Public speaking is probably my #1 most dreaded thing. Then one by one, former retreaters were called up by name to speak, which I was not expecting. I thought it would be voluntary! Before I knew it, Tracey, who was playing host up on the mic, announced that there was a certain blonde singer-runner-model in attendance and invited me to come up. Gahhh! Tracey welcomed me with a big hug and likely sensing my panic, stood up there with me, offering an arm around my shoulder as I spoke. As my mind started churning with all the many things I wanted to say, I came up with something about how I had been a Kara fan since around the time I started running, how I was a singer but also painfully introverted, and about how last year’s retreat was so meaningful after hearing Kara’s life story and meeting so many amazing people, and how I knew I had to come back. I’d like to think my little speech was very eloquent, but it was not. It was full of rambling, nervous laughter, awkward pauses, the whole deal. Despite being slightly mortified by the whole experience, a few women came up to me and told me they thought I did a good job despite being nervous, some told me I was cute and endearing, and several women came up to me and told me that they can totally relate as they came solo to the retreat as I did last year, despite being shy or introverted.

The next two days were filled with sessions in which Kara and several staffers shared their life stories and lead presentations and discussions about nutrition, being race-day ready, and body image. I was particularly moved when both Lottie and Shanna shared their stories for the first time. It takes a lot of courage to revisit painful or difficult times from your life and share them with a large group of people, many of whom you don’t know. There was, however, an unspoken sense that we were all in a safe space to be open. There were more group activities throughout the day like pilates with Tracey, a dance session (my favorite), and of course running. We gathered for every meal including a buffet breakfast and lunch, followed by a more formal catered dinner in the evenings. All in all, there was a lot of sharing, learning, reflecting, and new friendships being developed. Throughout the weekend, Kara made an effort to speak to everyone and really listened to what we had to say. On two occasions she took the mic and allowed time for the group to ask her anything. She was very open and candid about her life and particularly how her year has been in the aftermath of this year’s marathon trials. While Kara was the one curating and hosting the retreat, I got the sense that she needed this time to reflect and heal just as much as any of us. Like, she has to know that she has a huge following of people that will love her and be in her corner win or lose, but like anyone, sometimes you just need to hear it and be able lean on your tribe when you need it. Being popular doesn’t mean you need to be any stronger or less sensitive than anyone else.

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Kara introducing her longtime friend and speaker Anna Paffel.

Since I was recovering from the Chicago Marathon, which I had run the weekend before, I opted not to participate in the group runs. Instead I enjoyed some leisurely coffee, reading, and writing time every morning. I did start to feel antsy, as it had been an entire week since I’d last run. I also felt like I had been missing out on the gorgeous scenery as most of my time was spent within the resort where the retreat was being held. So the final morning, I woke up early and drove myself to the nearby Sabino Canyon. I set off on a little hike, toting my purse and notebook, plus a to-go cup of coffee and a bagged cinnamon roll. Amidst all the serious hikers, runners, and cyclists out on the trail, I’m sure I looked positively ridiculous.

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No shame.

About a mile in, I found an offshoot leading to several pavilions and picnic tables among the shrubs, boulders, and cacti. I sat down, enjoyed my breakfast and the sunrise, then thought about what I wanted to write.

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That is the moon. It was stunning.

Per tradition, at the final gathering of the retreat which would take place later that morning, each attendee would be invited to share something they’re good at and something they’re going to do. I spent a long time staring at the blank paper in front of me. What am I good at? I thought of my running, I thought of music, I thought of how I was such a nervous, shaky mess on the mic just a few days before. Then I thought of the most memorable parts of the past year and what I was the most proud of, from my racing experiences, to songwriting, and musical collaborations and performances. There was one thing tying everything together. Here’s what I wrote, and later shared with the group on our last day:

I’m good at writing. While I’m probably the most uncomfortable when I’m on stage performing a song I wrote or hitting the submit button when posting a new blog entry, those are the times when I feel the most connected to other people and when I feel the most understood. Expressing myself through written word is also when I feel the most vulnerable because unlike when I’m speaking candidly, I say everything I mean to. As nervewracking as that can sometimes be, of all the things I’ve ever done, aside from maybe running, writing feels the most “right.” It took me a long time to accept it, but I’m good at writing- and I’m going to use my voice.

Okay, okay, yes that is super cheesy, and ironically not even well written (hello, grammar and run on sentences). For me, writing songs and writing out my thoughts is my way of processing and sharing my experiences. And in return, I often receive an outpouring of thoughts and stories from those that read or listen. It’s a beautiful way to communicate and understand each other. So to those that have reached out, encouraged me, shared your own thoughts and stories, or have simply read or listened, thank you.

After everyone in the group said their piece, we decided on one word that we felt embodied the theme of the retreat that we could take with us back to our everyday lives as a mantra or reminder of our time together. This year we chose “free.”

Huge thank you to Kara Goucher and her staff for putting on yet another excellent retreat. The experience was meaningful, powerful, and very worthwhile. I hope to continue returning every year as a chance to check in with myself, catch up with old friends, make new ones, and leave feeling ready to take on whatever life throws at me.

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Shanna Burnette, co-founder of ModCraft. She does Kara’s PR and they’ve also been longtime friends. I loved learning more about her beginnings and how she took a leap by starting her own business developed on principles she values.
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Yissel McCardie, a runner and mother of two beautiful daughters. We had some wonderful conversations and I’m so glad we met.
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Brenda Alvarez, Assistant Manager at Oiselle’s flagship store and my Volée teammate. Something she said that stuck out to me was that, yes, maybe she had some luck finding her dream job. But she’s the one that did it. She put herself out there and made it happen. Respect.
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This woman. Lottie Bildirici is a triathlete, health coach, and founder of runonveg.com. She has changed the way I think about nutrition forever and I learned this weekend just how strong she is.
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My roomies, Cynthia Martinez (left) and Kimberly Clark-Aguilar. I loved getting to know them more. They’re both talented runners and writers among many other things) with big ambitions. Even though we live far from each other, we’ve been checking in with each other and encouraging each other since the trip. I’m grateful for their friendship!
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The one and only Sally Bergeson, founder + CEO of Oiselle. I can’t think of enough wonderful things to say about her. She rules.

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Running with Jordan Hasay

I ran a 10K on the track with Jordan Hasay! The race was put on by her coach, Alberto Salazar, in perfect weather conditions with pacers to lead her to the ‘A’ standard of 31:45 for the T&F World Championships in Moscow.

In order to cover his bases and make it a legitimate race against real people, Salazar offered to pay $100 to four women capable of running a sub-45 minute 10K to participate. The meet director posted about it on facebook on Saturday night. I immediately messaged him and he told me I was in!

I didn’t exactly feel prepared to run a 10K. I was coming off of a great week of training with two good workouts under my belt, but that meant by Sunday I was feeling pretty tired. My easy run the day before the meet was 10 miles!

I was a little nervous when I arrived at the track, mainly because I did not know what to expect. My worries vanished when I met the other women. We were all on the same boat- all local runners, not really ready for a 10K on short notice (some of them had even raced a 5K that morning), not really sure what to expect, but just having fun and going for it. Most of the women were running it as a workout, and a couple of them were using it as a time trial. The atmosphere felt relaxed, and everyone was just excited to be there and root for Hasay. I didn’t get to meet her before the race, but I saw her warming up around the track in a hot pink Nike jacket, then later speaking with Salazar, likely going over her race plan.

At the start, we were lined up slowest to fastest based on our predicted finish time. In the pic below, Hasay is toward the left with the braided hair and I am in the middle with the split shorts and arm crossed over my front.

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The start gun fired, everyone took off, and I found myself immediately in last place! Ahh oh no!! My plan was to try and run 93 second quarters. I felt like I was running so fast, and surely the women around me took off too fast, and surely we were running sub-90. The first quarter went by in 95 seconds. Oh dear. One lap down, and I was already behind on my goal pace, AND it felt hard. I knew this should have been one of those “listen to your body” moments, and I should have settled into that pace because it already felt plenty fast. Instead, I chose not to listen and started chasing the women in front of me.

I passed a few women that were doing a tempo run together and did my best to speed up. However, it became clear pretty quickly that 93 second laps were just too fast. My breathing was okay, but my legs were tired. I went through mile one in 6:16 or so and mile two in 12:32. I must have slowed down a little bit in mile three, and went through the 5K mark in 19:43.

Throughout all of this, so far, the crowd was going nuts every time Hasay and her pacers ran down the homestretch. Every time the announcer called out her splits, which were right around 75-77 seconds, a big cheer would erupt because she was right on target. By the 5K mark, I think she had already passed me twice. There were officials with flags stationed on all four corners of the track that would signal to me when Hasay was approaching, so that I could move out to lane three and allow her and the pacers to pass. Every time she zoomed by, I shouted words of encouragement to her. I noticed the other women out there doing the same.

Every time I ran down the homestretch, I could hear several people yelling, “Go Liz!”, which surprised me a little. The only person I knew for sure that was there was my husband, so it was nice getting some unexpected support. As far as my pace, I sort of lost track and stopped paying attention to my watch, but I felt like I found a manageable rhythm.

Since I had stopped paying attention so much to my own race, I started noticing what was going on around me a bit more. As Hasay got closer and closer to finishing her race, the crowd seemed to be getting more and more frantic. I think her pace was starting to slip a little bit and everyone was getting nervous. I noticed Alberto Salazar watching intently from the 100m mark on the track. With a few laps to go, Hasay passed me yet again. I saw a young woman in a navy track jacket in the infield shouting at Hasay that she knew she could do it. I had to do a double-take, because I realized it was none other than high school phenom Mary Cain.

Simply being in the presence of national and world class runners, plus the incredible crowd, was enough to give me a little burst of energy. My legs were not happy and I was feeling weary, but it was simply impossible not to get excited. I think I had five laps to go when the bell rang and Hasay was completing her last lap. I realized that I would be running down the homestretch at the same time as her! Not wanting to be in the way of photographers, or mess up her race in any way, I swung way out into lane 5 to give her all the space she needed.

 

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.@lizanjos running with @jordanhasay

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I was about 20 meters into my next lap when Hasay crossed the line. I kept running, but I had to at least crane my neck around and see her finish! She ended up running a time of 31:46- just one second off her goal. It was still good enough for the ‘B’ standard, which meant she sealed the deal for her trip to Moscow.

Meanwhile, my mortal self still had five laps to run! My legs still weren’t happy, but I felt a surge of energy after seeing Hasay’s big finish.

The last mile went by pretty quickly and I ended up crossing the line in 39:25. Just seven seconds off my PR and a negative split by one second (19:43/19:42)!

Afterward I found Hasay in the infield and gave her a high five and my congratulations. She seemed incredibly sweet and humble. I also went up to Salazar, introduced myself, and thanked him for having me and the other women in the meet. I’ll admit, I was a tad starstruck.

By the time I got home, it was around 11:45PM, but my day wasn’t over quite yet. I made my way downstairs to the gym, hopped on a treadmill, and ran another 6.25 miles. Exactly enough to complete 65 miles for the week. Ah, the strange yet satisfying life of a runner.

Update: Flotrack posted a video of this race (or as they more appropriately called it, standard chase) here.

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