Tuesday, April 23, 2019

CSP Meet: Part II

            I had been mulling over the 5K since I asked coach to put me in it. I wanted a test run at a 5K, but was this really the time or place? I hadn’t tapered for it. I only ran outside once (it’s been all treadmill work otherwise). I didn’t feel the need to win it, but I didn’t want to be last either. There was a 21 minute seed, and one close to my 20:13 PR that I set last fall at the Three Eagle 5K. I’ve been putting in a lot of work on my run, but these were COLLEGIATE distance runners I would be up against. Let's first just remember that I was never a runner, ok? Not a distance runner, not a sprinter. Any running I had to do in college, I struggled with.
I was 95% sure I wouldn’t run. If I got a NH for PV, then I thought I would have to (which was almost the case)! Was I going to let the fear of failure keep me from taking a risk? Or maybe it was really the fear of embarrassment holding me back. My legs were fatigued from vaulting. I had been in the sun all day. I watched the 1500 race and saw how fast the girls went out. Could I handle it? What did it matter anyway? Would it matter if I was last – by a lot? At the end of the day, who would even know, or care? Sometimes when you crack open the door to self-doubt, it ends up being flung wide open.
            I also knew that I didn’t want to look back and regret not taking the chance. I checked in, re-warmed up, put my hip numbers on, and toed the line with the (gulp) college girls. My only strategy was to drop to the back right away and try not to go out too fast. I hung at the back, but stayed on the girl in front of me. First mile was 6:24. Too fast I knew. We caught up to another girl who was dropping back, passed her, and I lost the one I was hanging on to. 
I slowly reeled in another girl, but when I tried to pass her, she picked up the pace and I pulled in behind her again. We ran the next several laps together, and whenever she would slow up on the one corner, I would say a few encouraging words and she would pick it back up again (better than me trying to pass every time). I hung on to her until the final lap when she kicked in the final stretch and I didn’t have what it took to go with her. I finished in 20:23, taking 9thout of 10. Andy told me that if I beat one collegiate distance runner, then I could consider myself successful. Score! I’m glad I sucked it up and just ran it. It was tough, but a really great experience that I would do again. I like the strategy and mental aspect of distance/endurance racing.

            All in all, it was a great day! I can’t be too upset about missing out on 11-8. It will come. The 5K wasn’t a PR, but I still ran well. And I had my Mom and Katie there cheering me on. I would do it all again!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

CSP Meet: Part I

            On Thursday, I found out that my alma mater (Concordia St. Paul) was hosting a women’s meet the next day. I told Andy about it and his response was, “Go ahead.” Heat sheets were already out, but the coach put me in anyway. I was immediately in a cold sweat of nerves and excitement. I got entered in both the pole vault AND the 5,000m race. Now let me be clear: in my college days, I was not a runner. I was not a sprinter, or a distance runner. I was slow and terrible. I have come a long way, and my training over the winter has been going really well. But a race with actualcollege distance runners? Was this a stupid idea? I’ll get to that race in my next post.
            There were 10 other women pole-vaulting, but all had seed heights a foot lower than me, which was a big confidence boost. My short approaches in warm ups felt good, but my take-offs struggled as my approach lengthened. When stuck in a gym, I haven’t been able to practice that. I was also getting on big poles with higher grips. This was my first time outdoors since last summer as well. While it was a tailwind during warm-ups, it would shift during competition to a crosswind or head wind at times. I came in at 10-4, as they were only going up by 10cm (4”) at that point. Opening height was at 8’, so I had some downtime before starting. My first 2 attempts at 10-4 didn’t go well. My final attempt was ugly, but I did what I had to do to make the height.
11-8 Attempt

            At 10-8, there were 5 of us still in. I made it on my first attempt, but no one else made the height, which meant that I not only won the meet, but that I could also pick my heights from then on. I jumped up 6” to 11-2.25, which I also cleared on my first attempt. I still wasn’t feeling good about my jumps though. We raised it to 11-8. It would be a post-collegiate PR (by 2”) and also tie my 2ndhighest jump ever. On my first failed attempt, my elbow hit the bar really hard, and my right hand went tingly. Fortunately, I had 5 minutes between attempts, and I got feeling back in my hand in that time. My second attempt was better, but not there yet. My third attempt was my best jump of the day, and I felt like I was doing what I needed to do to make the height. I had put the standards pretty deep though, and it was too much for that jump. I had a lot of height, but I came down on the bar. I had a great day overall, but I was crushed. I wanted that height so bad. I wanted to make another run at 12’. I could have made that bar with room to spare if I hadn’t had my standards so deep. I won my home meet at CSP though!
            Check out the video of my 11-8 attempt. Despite having a terrible take-off, I still got a lot of height out of the jump (as you can see in the picture I am far over the bar, but my legs are touching it on my way down). Stay tuned for the next post regarding that 5K…

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Indoor Season Wrap-Up at UWSP

            After a couple of fantastic indoor meets, I looked at UWSP’s indoor schedule, and saw they were hosting a Final Qualifier on March 2nd. It was a college meet, but also open to Unattached/Club athletes. As a Final Qualifier, the purpose of this kind of meet is to have one more chance at getting marks to qualify for Nationals. The field size ended up being ideal, but the starting height reflected the fact that it was a Final Qualifier. There are college meets that may have opening height in the 8-9 foot range, but this meet was starting at 10-9! I usually start at 10 feet, so this was a little steep for opening height for me even.
            With UWSP only being a 1:40 drive from home, it was too enticing to pass up (much better than the 4 hour drive to Bethel for the last one). Walking into a college meet to compete brought out two strong feelings: nerves because it brought back college memories, and it also made me feel really old! I was surrounded by such youthfulness! While all these college vaulters had the advantage of being able to practice and have a coach, I had the advantage of experience. The nerves quickly died down once we got started. If nothing else, I have come to rely on the consistency that comes with 14 years of vaulting. I was also determined to strive for any edge I could gain, which included going all the way back to a 14 step (7-left) approach for the first time in 9 years!
            Out of 13 vaulters, only one passed the first height. I was the fifth in the order, but the first (and possibly only) one to clear the bar on the first attempt. Only 7 girls even made opening height. At 11-3, one girl cleared it on her first attempt. I cleared it on my second attempt, and the third girl who went on, cleared it on her third attempt. While the winner went on to clear 11-9 right away, I and the other girl failed to clear it, which left me as second overall! At a COLLEGE meet. While of course I was really hoping to make 11-9, I also need to keep it in perspective that my only practices have been at these meets, and I have done REALLY well! I am super excited to get into the summer season and see what I can do!

Monday, February 18, 2019

USATF MN Indoor Meet

            After such a great time at the USATF WI meet, I decided to squeeze one more meet in for this indoor season. There was an all-comers meet hosted at Bethel University, and while that’s a solid 4 hour drive, it’s also where I spent a year training during my internship year, which added to the appeal with a return to the old stomping grounds. It took a few days to recover from the last meet, but now that I had a recent meet experience under my belt, I was hopeful that I could turn up similar results again.
            It was a large field, with 20 total vaulters, and the entire meet was run co-ed. Despite the long line for warm-ups, I felt good going into competition. I cleared 10’ and 10’6” on my first attempts. Mentally, I was already happy with how I was doing, even though I knew I wanted more from the day yet. I made 11’ on my second attempt, and got some decent height on my 11’6” jump, with plenty of room on top, and while I bumped it on my way down, the bar stayed up! Alright, I’ll be honest. It was actually in metric at 3.50 meters, which puts it 11’5.75”, but close enough! February 6, 2010 – My one and only other meet I ever had at Bethel. I was a senior at Concordia. I won the pole vault with a vault of 3.50 meters as well! Here I am 9 years and 3 kids later, and I just jumped at the same place with the same height. I ended 4th overall and 2nd female.

            This really shows that what I’ve been doing in the weight room has done wonders! Triathlon is still on the fence a little bit for this summer, but I do know for sure I will be shooting for a new lifetime PR of finally clearing the elusive 12 foot bar! Other fun highlights from the day included dropping 4 seconds from my 800m time for a 2:47.62, in a very large heat of 16 athletes. My state miler, a senior this year, also ran a 4:48 mile and followed it with a 2:11 in the 800m. He will be starting this season off fast. Since this meet was in the Twin Cities area, I also had fans, which included Andy’s family, and my dear friend (and also a former Golden Bear trackster), Katherine, who will hopefully be re-entering the track scene with me next year! Now the tough part will be waiting 4 months to finally compete again!

Monday, February 4, 2019

BIG Week!

            As I contemplate Triathlon Nationals, part of the debate is whether or not I want to get back on the bike, or push hard workouts in the pool again. I’ve enjoyed being able to focus on lifting weights and running. This last week though, I hopped on the bike for the first time in over 7 months! I quickly remembered two things: 1) biking hurts! and 2) I have to break my butt back in to the seat! While it was tough, I feel like I could build back into it fairly well.
            I have also been working a few harder efforts into my swimming, but it’s always after a run and 45 minutes of lifting, which, frankly, means I’m exhausted. I had a chance for an evening swim this past week, so I did 10x100 on 1:30 (the staple workout) and killed it! That gave me confidence to move forward with Nationals in mind. I’m 6 months out, so it’s time to start training.
            The most fun part of this last week was on Sunday when Andy and I went to Carthage College for the USATF WI Indoor Open and Masters meet. To make it even more fun, two of our former Blue Jays (and also our first 2 kids we ever took to State!) came and competed with us. Since I haven’t vaulted in 6 months, I set low expectations, with my goal being 10 feet (that seemed realistic). Warm-ups went well, so I started at 10’ as normal, cleared it by a lot, and went on to make 10’6”. This was already a worthwhile day, but then I made 11’! I had some good attempts at 11’6”, but just wasn’t there at this point. I’m ecstatic that all of my weight room and high bar work set me up so well! (Although even all those box jumps could not prepare my calves for that much running on my toes – hurting today). There were 27 female vaulters (including youth) for the day, and I had the 3rd best mark (and definitely the only one with children)!
            I also ran the 800m with two other women. I am usually pretty good about being able to pace evenly by feel, but I haven’t ran that fast in 6 months (my fastest stuff being threshold pace), and I struggled with confidence to push harder in the middle 400. I had a lot left for a strong kick, but should have picked it up a lot earlier. It was still fun and I still finished in 2:51, which was definitely satisfactory (and a learning experience). Andy had a great day with the Long Jump and got to run the 55 as well (2 events he felt the best about doing without training for them)! We each came home with 2 medals and some hurting bodies. It was worth it! I am looking forward to everything that 2019 brings!