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.

thechasestart

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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Hayward Magic

Last Friday I ran in the Oregon Relays. It was my first-ever track meet at Hayward Field in Eugene. Getting a chance to race on this track was particularly special to me because of how many historic running events have taken place there and how many of my running heroes have raced on that very track.

Hayward_1

I competed in the women’s 5000 meters, which is the distance I’ve raced the most both on and off the track. The 5K has been a steady marker of progress since I began running at the age of 14, with every minute knocked off being a new milestone. For the past five years or so I’ve plateaued somewhat, as I’ve run countless 19-something-minute 5Ks, but never faster.

This meet was probably the most formal/organized one I’ve ever entered. To start, they had a special outdoor warm-up area just for the athletes, complete with a mini track and field where we could do drills and strides. There I had to wait for my event to be called. Once my event was called, the other competitors and I had to take all of our belongings with us, and an official escorted us to an indoor warm-up area under the bleachers. This room had maybe five track lanes if we wanted to warm up some more. It was blazing hot in there! I’m guessing they have it this way so sprinters can warm up and not have to worry about pulling a muscle. As soon as the event before ours ended, all of my fellow competitors and I were ushered outside to the track. We had to walk along the perimeter to the 200m start, and I have to admit for a tiny, fleeting moment, I felt kind of like a track star. As we walked by the covered bleachers along the backstretch, the crowd just started going nuts for us. It was unreal. I almost waved.

Let me point out that this was a B heat at a relatively low-key event. The Mt. SAC Relays were happening the same night, which is where many of the nations fastest collegiate runners were. This worked out well for me because my seed time of 18:28 (a calculated guess based on a recent mile finish time) was just barely fast enough to squeeze into this race. However, it was also potentially dangerous because if I had a bad race, I ran the risk of being lapped and/or placing last.

After the meet officials made sure we were lined up perfectly at the start, the gun shot and we were off. Everyone started very fast and I had to make a decision to either go with them or get left behind. My breathing was getting labored after just two laps, but I’m pretty sure there was only one woman behind me, so for the sake of not losing contact with the group I pressed on.

After about a mile, some of the women seemed to be getting tired and slowing down, so I used the opportunity to catch a few of them. I had no idea what pace I was going (it seemed almost wrong to look down at my watch in the middle of a track race), so I just focused on catching up to the person in front of me, passing her, then catching the next person. I was glad to have people to go after because it helped me to keep pushing and never settle into a comfortable pace.

I couldn’t believe how quickly the laps flew by. Before I knew it, there were five to go and it was time to start moving. I spent the next several laps going back and forth with a runner from Gonzaga University. Every time I thought I had her beat, she’d pass me, but then I’d pass her right back. Then she’d pass me again. And so on. While we were both probably annoyed at each other, I think the fact that neither one of us wanted to give in helped to keep our pace up. The last lap was painful, but I felt strong and kicked it in as hard as I could, outkicking Gonzaga-girl. When I looked up at the scoreboard, I was completely ecstatic to see my name with 18:25.82 right next to it! A personal record by 42 seconds, and finally an end to my 19-something streak. My PRC teammate Laurel also ran, and she broke 18 minutes for the first time, setting a new personal record of 17:57. We both couldn’t have been happier.

That's me on the left, Laurel on the right
That’s me on the left, Laurel on the right

I’m getting used to the irony of my fastest races being the ones I place the worst in. In this case, I placed 14th out of 19 runners. Looking on the positive side, I’m happy to have even been in the mix.