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All Race Reports

Race Report: Boulder XC National Champs

My goal going into the USATF Cross Country National Championship was to not finish last. It wasn’t an entirely unreasonable objective- I would be up against some of the toughest runners in the country!

I arrived in Boulder two days before the race with my husband Andre. That afternoon, we went for a little hike to catch a view of the Flatirons overlooking the town. I noticed the effect of being at 5,000+ feet elevation right away because I could feel my breath getting short just from walking.

Photo by André Allen Anjos
The Flatirons.
Andre looking stoked to have his photo taken.
Andre looking stoked to have his photo taken.

The next day, Friday, I went to check out the race course at Flatirons Golf Course and do a little pre-race run. I thought the course would be relatively empty, but it turned out many other runners had the same idea. I ran into a few members of Oiselle’s Project Little Wing, a professional training group based in Bend, Oregon. Collier Lawrence and Christine Babcock would be racing and Lauren Fleshman was with them as their coach. Collier and Christine were finishing up their warm up drills and asked if I’d like to join them for their shakeout run. Of course I said yes! Moments into the run, I once again felt the effects of being at a higher altitude. We were running at a comfortable pace, but I could feel my lungs working hard to keep up with my legs. I eventually found my rhythm and began to feel pretty optimistic about the next day’s race. The sky was clear, the grass we were running on was nowhere near as muddy as I predicted, and my legs felt fresh. After completing one 2K loop around the course, we merged with a group of women decked out in Brooks gear. It was none other than the Brooks Beasts (great name), another pro training group including Katie Mackey and Angela Bizzarri. The Brooks and Oiselle runners knew each other and we completed the rest of the second loop together. As this was happening, a guy with shaggy blonde hair and a light, choppy stride skirted around us. I recognized him right away- it was Ryan Hall, the fastest ever American marathoner. He must have been there to support his wife, mid-distance specialist Sara Hall, who I saw warming up just a bit later. Then as we were finishing our run, there casually walking by was Dathan Ritzenhein, one of the favorites for the open men’s race. I’ll admit, I was a little giddy being in the presence (and running with) some of the top runners in the country.

Race day morning, I was still feeling pretty optimistic. My legs felt fresh and it was a gorgeous day. I arrived early to cheer on my coach Greg who was defending champ in the Masters 8K. It was a nail biter of a race. The men went out REALLY fast. Greg stayed right in the mix and even took the lead at one point. In the end, he placed second overall. It may not have been the result he wanted, but he ran a smart race and gave it everything he had. In fact, he ran 11 seconds faster than his winning time the year before. I was very inspired after watching him run, and knowing that we had done similar workouts in preparation for the race gave me a lot of confidence.

Photo by André Allen Anjos
Greg!

Before long it was time to get ready for my own race. I warmed up with a fellow Oiselle runner, Arlene Espinoza, and her teammate Ashlee from Dukes Track Club. I found our team manager, Kristin Metcalf and gave her a big hug, and I did a few drills alongside the Little Wing gals on the warm up field. There is something to be said about being part of a team when charting such unfamiliar territory. I’ve run cross country before, but not in such a high caliber meet and not in the foothills of the Rockies. I was really happy to see some familiar faces (and singlets)!

As I changed from my training shoes into cross country spikes, I felt relaxed and positive. I told Andre I had a pretty good feeling about the race. I made my way to the starting area, did a few strides, and joined my teammates at the start line.

The gun went off, and the women attacked the eight kilometer course at a blazing pace. I thought I would have to restrain myself from doing the same, but it turned out I didn’t have to. I was huffing and puffing within the first thirty seconds. I tried to find a pace that was fast enough to get some good leg turnover while still maintaining breath and composure. The majority of the field quickly got away from me, but I knew if I tried to go with them I’d crash hard. Along with my primary goal of not finishing last, I kept in mind my secondary goal of not being passed in the second half of the race.

_DSF1560
The start of the open women’s race.

I went through the first two kilometer loop in 8:08, around 6:30/mile. Not bad (for me), but already my lungs could not keep up with my legs, and I had to slow down. I’d like to think that fading so early was a foreign feeling, but it brought back some very specific memories from when I first started running in high school. I ran countless cross country meets in which I’d run an excellently optimistic first mile, then crash hard in the second and third, walk some, and ultimately place somewhere toward the back of the field. Now I was reliving it all over again. The field had gotten away and I was straggling behind. I tried not to panic and focused on the things I could control. My breathing was out of control, but my legs and arms felt great. I focused on making my stride crisp and efficient, I ran the tangents of the course whenever I could, and I made it my goal to catch and pass the next woman ahead of me.

I went through the 4K mark at 16:59. I had majorly slowed down and still had two laps to go. I was already suffering, but I tried to keep it together knowing that I wasn’t the only one out there having a tough time. No matter where anyone was on the course, we were all gutting it out together. I tried to stay strong for the people I knew were out there watching- my husband Andre, my coach Greg, my Portland friends (shout out to Kelly Kruell for cheering in no-man’s land on the backstretch, it helped so much!), and the Oiselle crew including Colorado team members, Kristin Metcalf, the Oiselle founder and CEO Sally Bergesen, and pro runners Lauren Fleshman and Kara Goucher. Everyone cheered loud and shouted words of encouragement each time I ran by, though they could probably see I was hurting. I had to keep it together for them! Every time I heard my name, I perked up and picked up.

In the third lap, I felt like I had found my rhythm. I began to gain on the runners in front of me and matched the pace of my second lap. I passed two women and going into the fourth lap I targeted another one. She could hear me approaching and clearly wasn’t going to let me go without a fight. Every time I gained a few steps toward her shoulder, she strode out. She zipped around a sharp corner, but I covered the move. Speaking of high school memories, I remembered my coach in high school always saying to “pass with authority” so I did just that. I passed her and kept my pace up until I was sure there was at least a few seconds between us. After that, I focused on closing the gap between myself and the next runner ahead of me, Drea McLarty of Oiselle (who wrote a wonderful recap of her race here). She was pretty far ahead of me, but chasing her gave me something to focus on and pull me to the finish line. With about four hundred meters to go, I mustered up whatever kind of kick I had in me (which wasn’t much). I thought my heart might burst out of my chest. Andre later told me I looked a little pale toward the finish, which is pretty evident in the photo below. I crossed the line with a time of 34:32, my final lap twenty seconds faster than the previous two, placing 62nd out of 75 women. It was not a pretty race, but I accomplished my goals. I didn’t place last and I didn’t get passed!

The final stretch! Closing my eyes is my signature race-pain coping mechanism.

I took away a lot from racing in Boulder. First of all, I loved getting a chance to meet/reconnect with the Oiselle crew. This was my first time meeting Christine, Collier, Arlene, and Drea, and they were all so sweet and genuine. There are Oiselle runners all over the country and being able to make those in-person connections is really meaningful.

Me, Christine, and Arlene at the finish
Me, Christine, and Arlene at the finish.

Second of all, the race left me feeling very humbled, but more motivated and inspired than ever to be a better runner. I got to witness some incredible talent up close by sharing the starting line with some of the best runners in the nation. Christine’s stunning 13th place performance was good enough for a ticket to Colombia for the Pan American Games. Jen Rhines, a runner I greatly admire, made the podium at the age of 40, qualifying for her 7th USA world cross country team (check out The Rejuvenation of Jen Rhines via Running Times). If my eyes weren’t open before, they are now. Since returning from Boulder I’ve dived back into training with more purpose than ever.

Thanks for the memories, Colorado!
Thanks for the memories, Colorado!
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All Life Training

XC, Maui, and Modeling

January has been all about strength building, prepping for a national-caliber cross country meet, and landing my first gig as a runner model!

 

After enjoying some time off during the holidays, I got straight to work at the beginning of the year. I decided to sign up for the USATF National XC Championship taking place in Boulder, Colorado on February 7th. It will be extremely competitive and I may be a bit out of my league, but it will be a good racing experience to learn from. My coach built a training plan for me leading up to the race, and as he’s also planning to compete in Boulder, we’ve been meeting up on Fridays for various hill workouts in McMinnville, Oregon. McMinnville has some pretty incredible scenery. Our first workout took place in a cemetery with a sweeping view of Mt. Hood at sunrise, with fog rising over the surrounding grassy hills. The second workout took place in Miller Woods, surrounded by dense and dark trees with every footstep seemingly muted on the dirt trails covered in pine needles.

I spent this past week in Maui on vacation, and little did I know what a valuable training experience it would turn out to be. With the combination of the humidity and hilly terrain I was unaccustomed to, I was huffing and puffing through almost every single run. I had two fartlek (speed play) workouts scheduled during my time there, and “half marathon effort” and “5K effort” took on whole new meanings. Sometimes those efforts would mean 8:30/mile on an uphill and 5:45/mile on a downhill. My actual splits became meaningless, but I did my best to keep my efforts honest.

The only “flat” run I did during my time in Maui was at the Maui Oceanfront Half Marathon, an out-and-back course on a coastal highway. I had been planning to run 12 miles for my long run that week, but when I found out there was a half marathon happening that weekend, I decided it would be way more fun to add another 1.1 miles to my run with the benefit of having people to run with and water stations along the course. While I went into the race with the mindset of running for fun, I couldn’t help but scope out the competition and wonder who I could keep up with. As soon as the race started, some runners took off right away, including a woman that I saw for maybe all of three seconds, seemingly sprinting into the pre-dawn darkness. She went on to win in a blistering 1:18:41- that’s just a hair over six minutes per mile! I found a good group to run with, but noticed my breathing was becoming quite labored in only the first two miles. I let them go and trailed behind a bit, opening up a gap of about 20 seconds. I didn’t like the seeing the figures ahead of me get smaller and smaller, and I really didn’t like it when I got passed by two runners during that time. As I continued to run, my breathing wasn’t getting any more labored, and my legs, despite being quite sore from all of the hills that week, weren’t feeling more tired than they already were going into the race. I decided that I was better than where I was at and threw in a little surge to catch back up to the group over the next two miles. I began to pass runners one by one and eventually settled into a pace I felt I could maintain, finding that sweet spot between gliding and red-lining. I finished the race feeling strong and ended up placing 2nd overall female with a time of 1:29:32. I felt great about it. Just one or two years ago, that would have been an all-out race effort. This time, it was a training run in January!

Also this month, I got an unexpected invitation from Sarah “Mac” Robinson to come up to Seattle to model Oiselle’s Spring 2015 collection! I was more than thrilled, and of course said yes. I don’t have modeling experience, but Sarah explained that Oiselle hires their athletes as models as often as possible because they have that “healthy, strong, runner look.” How cool is that? I ended up spending a day in Seattle in the studio with the fantastic crew from Oiselle HQ, modeling the new looks and having an absolute blast. Some of the photos have appeared in the new arrivals section on Oiselle’s online shop, with many more to come!

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All Life

Daring to Dream in 2015

My running goal for 2014 was to make it to the start line of the Boston Marathon on April 21st in one piece. I began the year dealing with an injury, and the future was a fuzzy blur into the unknown.

The first few months were spent rehabbing, cross training, and gradually introducing running back into my routine with the help of my coach Jerret Mantalas and my PT Jonathan Eng at Portland Athletic Center of Excellence (P.A.C.E.). Though seemingly against all odds, I made it to the start line in one piece, ran the race with no pain or problems at all, and finished happy in 3:22:31. It was more than I could have ever asked for.

Another special thing that happened at Boston was getting to meet Lauren Fleshman and Kara Goucher, two of my favorite pro runners that just happen to run for my favorite running apparel company, Oiselle. I’d felt a connection to the Seattle-based brand since being introduced to their clothing in 2009 while working at Portland Running Company. Their clothing stuck out because of their chic, runway-inspired designs and flattering silhouettes. Seeing all of the amazing ways the company had grown over the years by developing an elite team, speaking out for athletes’ rights, and connecting a huge network of like-minded (fierce, competitive!) female athletes all over North America, had me longing to be part of it. Not long after Boston, I reached out to Kristin Metcalf, the team manager, to see if they had room for one more on the team. To my delight, she said yes, and even asked me to be an Oregon team leader!

After successfully running and finishing Boston Marathon, I felt like I was “back”. I went on to run a new road PR in the 5K at the Bowerman 5K in June, and then a few weeks later ran an all-time PR of 18:25 at the TrackTown 5K in Eugene, Oregon. When I began to think about what was next, I thought of my lifetime goal, a somewhat farfetched dream of qualifying to participate in the US Olympic Marathon Trials. The minimum required time for a female to qualify for the 2016 trials, aka the ‘B’ standard, is to run a marathon faster than 2:43 before January 13th, 2016. That’s really, really fast. 6:13 per mile fast. But I like to dream big! I figured the next logical step to take whittle away at my PR, which at the time was 3:13 from the 2013 Vancouver Marathon. I decided my next goal would be to run under three hours.

I planned for my goal race to be the Philadelphia Marathon on November 23rd, with the Portland Half Marathon on October 5th serving as a check point along the way. My training got off to a bit of an unexpected start as my coach Jerret and I decided to part ways. He had just accepted a full-time position as interim head coach at Concordia University and understandably would be putting all of his energy and focus there. I felt pretty lost at first; I had had a ton of success with Jerret, as I had run a PR in every distance from 1500m to the marathon in the two years I had worked with him. He recommended that I get in touch with Greg Mitchell, a college coach and national-caliber distance runner from McMinnville. I’m going to brag about Greg for a moment- he has run ten marathons between 2:20 and 2:27, holds the American Master’s 20K track record, and capped off the 2014 cross country season as USA XC Club Master’s Champ. He also happens to be extremely humble, positive, and encouraging. Lucky for me, he was game to take me on.

I had immediate success working with Greg. We had about a month to prep for the Portland Half Marathon and I ended up lowering my PR from 1:28:56 to 1:25:24. As I continued to train for the Philly Marathon, I felt more and more confident about my sub-3 hour goal. The training plan Greg made me was focused on strength based workouts, lots of practice at race pace, and long runs at a slightly faster pace than I was used to, including a whopping 24 mile long run. All of the hard work paid off and I ended up finishing the Philly Marathon in 2:59:22. Check and check!

Last year, looking ahead to 2014 seemed a bit bleak. It ended up being my best running year in every way. When I look ahead to 2015, the possibilities seem endless. My goal is kind of crazy, but no matter what happens, I’m just excited to get out there and see what I can accomplish. Here’s to the new year!

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All Race Reports

Chasing the Sub-3 Dream in Philly

While waiting for the horn to signal the start of the 2014 Philadelphia Marathon, I couldn’t stop shivering. It was frigid outside. Perfect for running, but not perfect for standing around in shorts and a singlet. I had jogged for about ten minutes and had done all of my skips, leg swings, and A-skips in an attempt to warm up, yet still found myself back at the start with a tad too much time to spare. As the start time drew nearer and marathon participants gathered closer to the start line, a gentleman behind me exclaimed, “I’m getting cold just LOOKING at you!” While I should have been going over my game plan or giving myself a pre-race pep talk, I could only really think about two things: the fact that I was REALLY cold, and wondering if I had time to pee. I decided the answer was “no” and hoped I wouldn’t regret it.

The first six miles were filled with a healthy mix of excitement, hope, uncertainty, dread, and just a hint of panic. My goal for the 26.2 mile race was to finish in under 3 hours, which would require 6:51 minute miles. Luckily for me, there was 3 hour pacer, making his presence known by carrying red balloons and a sign marked 3:00. My plan was to tuck in behind his group and only allow myself to pass them after the 20 mile mark.

Mile 1 – 6:56
Mile 2 – 6:55
Mile 3 – 7:04

Throughout these miles, I saw my parents and sister not once, but twice! I gave them a big wave and a smile both times, and afterward they told me how happy I looked.

Mile 4 – 6:52
Mile 5 – 6:45
Mile 6 – 6:48

Then naturally, as anything can happen on race day, my grand plan unraveled pretty quickly. First of all, the pace felt uncomfortable, and that worried me. 6:50s should have felt easy, at least in the first 10K! Second of all, I was definitely regretting not making one last trip to the restroom before the start. I really had to go. I considered not stopping and holding it. I considered not stopping and peeing my pants. I wouldn’t have been the first marathoner to do it! Then I thought it over and decided if Paula Radcliffe could make a pit stop and still go on to win the London Marathon (2005), I could somehow make this work. The 3 hour pace group had been slowly slipping away from me, but I decided to reel them in a little and minimize the gap as much as possible before making my stop.

Mile 7 – 6:24

I turned a corner and the glorious restrooms were in sight. It was game time. I dashed over, picked a stall, and snapped the door shut. I was hyper-aware of how every second I was in there was another second away from my goal. I had a moment of sheer panic when I couldn’t get the paper to tear off of the brand new roll of toilet paper. THE CLOCK WAS TICKING. I clawed at the roll, desperate to peel away the paper which wasn’t budging. It was like a bad dream. I did what I could and afterward the roll looked like it had been attacked by Wolverine. I didn’t care. I had to get out of there! When I emerged from the room, the 3:05 pace group had just passed by. Oh no.

My immediate reaction was to want to rush back up to the 3 hour group, but I knew if I did I would risk burning out. I picked up the pace just enough to continuously pass the runners between me and the pace group, but not so fast I was leaving them at a standstill.

Mile 8 – 7:56

The time lost wasn’t as bad as I thought. I didn’t time the length of my stop, but it couldn’t have been more than a minute or so.

Mile 9 – 6:42
Mile 10 – 6:55

Right around miles 9 and 10, just by the Please Touch Museum, I caught a glimpse of the red balloons marking the 3 hour pace group. They were still pretty far ahead. I panicked slightly.

Mile 11 – 6:37
Mile 12 – 6:38

As I passed the 12th mile marker, I glanced at the clock displaying the overall time, which read 1:23-something. It was then I realized I was absolutely fine. I may not have caught up to the pace group, but I would make it to the halfway point in 1:30 and change, which was right on target.

Mile 13 – 6:56

Mile 13.1, halfway split – 1:30:30

After passing the halfway mark, I felt so calm. My legs felt fresh and my breathing was relaxed. For whatever reason, a mantra came to me that stuck with me through the remainder of the race: “You have a job to do. Now get it done.” Something about that phrase made it all seem so simple. I thought back on my training and how much time I had dedicated to getting from point A to point B in a very specific amount of time on this very specific day. The work had already been done. All I really had to do was carry it out. For the first time during the race, I felt totally confident in what I was doing.

The next stretch of miles took the runners along the Schuykill River. We were becoming pretty spread out, especially since the half marathoners had split off toward their finish. It was a little windy and I thought about how nice it would be to be running in a group and not all by myself.

Leading the way in no-man’s land.

I tried to keep picking up the pace with the hope I would catch the 3 hour group. How lovely it would have been to just latch on and coast to the finish with them!

Mile 14 – 6:33
Mile 15 – 6:43

At mile 16, I saw my friend Steffi handing out water at an aid station. She might have even handed me water. She cheered me on and it gave me a huge lift. Thanks Steffi! The course then took up into the main street of Manayunk. I loved this part of the race. It reminded me of the quaint New England towns I ran through during the Boston Marathon earlier this year. There were tons of spectators lining the street and cheering, which made for a really fun and energetic atmosphere.

Mile 16 – 6:49
Mile 17 – 6:51
Mile 18 – 7:08
Mile 19 – 6:41
Mile 20 – 6:47

Getting to mile 20 was a big one for me. The mile mark was just after a hairpin turn in Manayunk, and that turn would be my last one before heading to the finish. My plan was to give it everything I had in the last 10K and not hold anything back. I knew that time had come. There was nothing to lose.

Mile 21 – 6:41
Mile 22 – 6:37
Mile 23 – 6:44

Miles 21-23 were my absolute favorite part of the race. Typically those would have been the miles where the pain would really set in. I’d get a deep churning sensation in my stomach and my legs would revolt. This time, however, those miles were simply euphoric. I’ve never experienced anything like it. I felt as if I were firing on all cylinders. I was passing people left and right, and they actually cheered me on. I cheered for them right back. My legs were becoming fatigued, but that was okay. That could only be expected. It was the fact that I was pushing and my legs were allowing it.

Mile 24 – 6:44

You know how I said I was firing on all cylinders? Apparently I could only take so much of that. The screws were coming loose. If I had a little red warning button, it would have been flashing. My right IT band, which I’ve had all kinds of problems with, started to throb. My head started to feel a little foggy. I wasn’t thinking. It was almost like I was on autopilot. You have a job. Get it done.

Mile 25 – 6:55

The end was near. I spent the 26th mile desperately hoping each next curve in the road would bring a glimpse of the Philadelphia Art Museum, the landmark I would pass just before the finish line. I told myself that I could continue to cruise, but as soon as I saw that museum, it would be time to go. Somehow I continued to pass other runners, only for the sheer fact that maybe I was hurting slightly less than they were. A man called out, “You were the one shivering in front of me at the start!”

Mile 26 – 6:56

The art museum finally made its grand appearance. I took off my gloves, you know, just so everyone around knew I was SERIOUS. I contemplated symbolically throwing them on the ground (they’re just cotton throwaway gloves), but then thought I should save them for next time. Why was I even thinking about that? Focus! My knee throbbed. I felt somewhat delirious. I had tunnel vision. I entered the final stretch of the race in front of the museum, with throngs of people cheering on either side. I knew my family was watching and I tried to listen for them. I saw the clock reading 2:59-something and kicked it in as hard as I could across the finish line. Then I stopped. Stopping was glorious.

Gloves off, eyes on the finish! Also slightly disoriented!

I spent the next few minutes in a sort of stunned zombie walk through the finisher area. A volunteer wrapped me in a mylar space blanket and another ceremoniously placed a finisher medal around my neck. I found a huge cart of salted soft pretzels and it was the most beautiful site in the world. I realized that my back really hurt. I bent down and put my hands on my knees, which made it hurt even more. Then I started to sob.

I continued the long shuffle to the exit and somehow found my parents and sister right away. My Dad ran over to me and the first thing he said was, “You did it!” Somehow hearing it from him made it actually seem true for the first time. My sister showed me my finish time, which had been automatically sent to her phone, and it read 2:59:22. They all gave me big hugs, we took some photos, and just like that it was done.

I’ve had a few days to reflect since the race and I feel like I’m still processing 2:59 and what it means. I gave that race everything I had. Once I crossed the line I there was nothing left in the tank. I actually did throw out my back (though after two chiropractor visits and a sports massage it’s a lot better now). My hope is that I haven’t hit the ceiling, and that this is merely a checkpoint on the way toward greater goals!

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All Training

Need for Speed in Nebraska

It was a perfect, sunny day in Omaha, NE. From my starting point at the Hilton Hotel, I laced up my bright cobalt running shoes and reveled in the fact that I had an entire afternoon to run wherever I wanted for as long as I pleased.

In the past two weeks I had logged 135 miles of running and played in ten rock concerts in ten different states and one Canadian province. Two days before, I completed my longest ever training run of 24 miles on the lake shore path of Chicago. I had been feeling good to a point, but I could feel my body beginning to revolt. My recent easy runs had been slower than usual by 10-20 seconds per mile. In the previously mentioned long run, I felt ready to stop at mile ten. Eight hours of sleep per night was no longer enough.

As I set out to run around the city, I told myself that I wouldn’t look at my watch, I wouldn’t worry about pace, and I wouldn’t even worry about where I went. It would be a run purely for the joy of running. I explored downtown, ran along a river canal, and looped around a pond. The sky was clear, the temperature was right around 50º Fahrenheit, and I had all the time in the world.

While I was enjoying running for the bliss and fun, I couldn’t help but think how perfect the weather would be for a speed workout. I had planned on waiting another day or two to give my legs a break, but it seemed silly to not take advantage of the day and the weather.

The workout was 8 x 1K repeats @ 10K pace with a 400m jog between each. Since the units of measurement on my watch aren’t set to the metric system and I couldn’t find an open track, I decided to do 0.6 miles on; 0.25 mile off. I found a long enough stretch of bike path by the Missouri RIver to run the intervals back and forth on. My goal pace would be 3:44.6.

The first rep flew by in 3:42.9. It felt effortless.

I turned to face the other direction for the second rep and got smacked by a blast of wind. So THAT’S why the first rep felt so easy… I had 12mph wind to my back the whole time! The next rep was head-on into the wind. It did not feel effortless. 3:44.9.

Third rep, 3:42.5. Right on.

Fourth rep, I battled with the wind again, finishing in 3:45.7.  I began to feel sorry for myself for having to face such windy conditions, and told myself it was okay that I missed my goal and that if things kept going that way, I could still easily average out in the end to my goal pace.

Fifth rep, 3:43.5. My slowest wind-aided effort yet. Was I really already slowing down? It was then that I told myself to snap out of it. Wind or no wind, 6:13 for six tenths of a mile should not feel hard. 6:13 is the pace required for a woman to run an entire marathon in order to qualify for the US Olympic Trials. I also thought that if this was the hardest part of my day, I have a really freaking good life. Perspective is everything.

I snapped out of whatever funk I was in, took a deep breath, and ran directly into the wind with my fastest split yet- 3:39.9. Take that, wind! You don’t own me!

7th (wind-aided) rep, 3:39.8. Easy peasy. I thought of how amazing and wonderful it would be to run an entire marathon at that pace. 6:06 per mile. That’s a 2:40 marathon. Some day?

8th and final split, with what I swear were the strongest wind gusts yet and yet nothing for me to lose. I pumped my arms and focused on taking short, choppy strides and light steps. Wind? What wind? 3:37.7.

Running for fun is great and all, but this little impromptu challenge came at a perfect time. I may be a little tired, but I feel confident in my fitness. My taper for the Philly Marathon has started. My legs are awake and ready for what’s to come.