This was quite the change in scenery and events. I took a 12 week hiatus from the grass and have been focusing on the shorter events in indoors thus far. Only eight days after a 5k on the track in the ice box of Iowa State, I found myself heading to the southern end of the Caribbean. In the middle of the NCAA season— it’s less than ideal to miss more class, change 3 time zones, and travel for nearly a day to arrive in foreign land and race in the heat and on the grass.
Plenty of NCAA athletes may find the packed race schedule and circumstances of the competition to be a hinderance to training and “bigger” things to come. I found this to be a nice escape from the snowy mountains and icy roads of Utah. Two seasons ago I did the same thing and it didn’t seem to hinder my outdoor season and the opportunity to compete for my country is one that I really value. I find that as long as I keep the volume high and don’t get too psyched for each race I can compete more and get away with it!
In the hot and unfamiliar conditions the plan was to run conservative and not go to the well. I got out and sat right behind the American squad. The course consisted of five 2km (the course was probably closer to 2.1km per loop) loops, each loop consisted of one extremely steep/short downhill and one equally steep uphill. The first 1k was super conservative and it was clear that nobody wanted to lead. as we came up the first hill the American pack decided the pedestrian pace was a little too soft and surged pretty hard, I hung back but kept them within about 10-20m for the next 2k.
Around 3k, two Americans fell off the pack and I caught them and tucked in. There were still 4 Americans and my teammate Mike Tate about 25-35m ahead at this point. I liked the position I was in, there was plenty of race to go, I found a rhythm, and waited for something else to develop. Not too long after the midway point Tate started to fall off the pack of four Americans. I didn’t want him to run 5k in no-mans land, I surged alongside David Elliot when we got to Tate he responded to our pace well. The three of us were sitting 5-6-7 going into the bell lap. The course had water every Kilometer and it was crucial to stay feeling cool that you get some each opportunity. The second to last water at 8k I was on the outside shoulder of Elliot and hollered to get a water thrown towards me cause I couldn’t get to the inside; one of the volunteers tossed the water up and Elliot attempted to be a good sport and catch it for me, he accidentally swatted it down.
This was probably the climactic point of the chase packs race, Tate called out— “we’re all friends here!” Elliot doused himself in water and handed me his bottle after apologizing for the mishaps.
The incident with water sparked my adrenaline a bit and I took off going into the hills for the last time, Tate fell off and Elliot and I were still side by side. The course had a long straight slightly downhill final 800-1000m before you take a hairpin into the finish. For the first time in the race I got competitive, Kirwa of the USA was fading and fading fast, I felt really good and took off after him hoping to make up 30 seconds in the last kilometer. I got within 5 seconds and was able to separate from Elliot with the push, I crossed the line with a solid 5th place finish.
NACAC is by no means a deep field. It consists of Americans, Canadians, some Carribean and Mexican athletes sprinkled in. Two years ago I couldn’t even see an American athlete as I finished. Although it’s their “B squad” it felt good to compete with the Stars and Stripes and hope I can continue to close that gap, undoubtedly a tall task. Next up, MPSF 3000m... Bama or Bust.
The indoor season in the NCAA is a short, cut throat one. I love it! Top 16 times throughout the season advance to the finals. All over the country, every weekend, athletes chase fast times in hopes of achieving personal bests and all-American finishes in March.
The Iowa State Classic has served as my ticket to NCAAs the last 2 years. It’s a fast track and the meet organizers give the 5k an honest chance of posting fast times.
A year ago this race was a pretty substantial breakthrough on the track. I ran an 8 second PB for 5k and a mark that sent me to nationals with the 5th best time in the NCAA. This year I looked to do the same, and I ran 1 second slower than the year prior, this year that has me 16th in the NCAA, the last spot in as of now.
The time was 1 second off of last year but the race felt very different. The last kilometer was an absolute grind. I was holding on for the fate of my indoor season. Last year I closed my last 600 in 1:28, this year that last 600 was 1:36. Had I finished like I did last year, I would’ve won the race and had a huge personal best.
Not every race can be your best. I’m in great shape, I had some setbacks a week before the race that may have been lingering in my body as I approached that final 600m. I wasn’t happy with this performance as I crossed the line. I’ve since found some positives to look at in this performance.
I felt like horrible in the latter stages of the race but I fought for my 3rd fastest 5k of all-time and most likely did enough to make the National meet in a month. I took my body to one of the darkest places I have in a race before, I finished the race and spent the next hour hunched over a garbage can and lying down before I could even cool-down.
Racing is hard, running can be unpredictable. Can’t beat yourself up for not putting together A+ performances every time you run. Find positives to take away, find places to improve, and get back to work.
I’m heading to Trinidad with team Canada this week for an XC race and then I’ll run a 3k @ MPSF the following week. It’ll be a lot of racing, it’s a good thing I love to race.
Heading into this race my preparations had me feeling confident and ready to race fast and dip under the illustrious 4 minute mile barrier. I was hoping to get into the fastest section with guys that were going to run well under the mark so I could be pulled through my first sub-4. I was placed in the second fastest heat, this heat was good still, and although I knew it wouldn’t be as ideal, I knew it’d be possible and I stayed optimistic.
As race day came, I watched my training partners and teammates (Marcus, Patrick, and Talem) run great, they all ran 4:02-4:03. This added more assurance to my confidence. As the race came closer, my nerve level began to rise above normal pre-race feeling, I wanted this more than usual, I took a deep breath and set out on my warm-up.
As the gun fired I took off hoping to assert myself in about 3rd place, I figured that would be best tactically for once the rabbit stepped off the track. I was right where I wanted to be through the first quarter, it felt fast but I was locked in as we came through in 59.xx. The next quarter was a crucial one, the athlete between me and first place was beginning to allow a gap to form, as the next straightaway came I knew I needed to bridge that gap in order to stay on pace (2:00.xx half mile split).
As the last half of the race was underway, I eyed the back of the Arizona State athlete sitting on the rabbit that had about a 5-10 meter gap. During this third quarter I was able to close that gap completely, I was sitting right on the heels of the leader as we approached the bell (3:01.xx). It was going to take a 58 second close, I felt strong— but no lie, it was hurting. I kept pumping my arms and driving my legs as I have done many times, I’ve never had a hard time digging and finding more; the mile is a race where you’re red-lining the entire time. My RPM’s topped off with about 150m to go, and I began to sputter. I was in second place and came off the final curve and watched the clock roll over 4 minutes (4:02.41).
This stung, I felt like being so close meant that I am capable but made some error. The cool-down and rest of the night I treated myself as a punching bag... I wouldn’t advise doing this, my coach, my teammates, my family were amped— they thought watching me come so close was exciting and promising. I looked at my race through a negative lens— this attitude does not serve me. Since then I’ve reflected on the performance a bit more, I will take it as a steppingstone toward bigger things in the coming weeks. I am scary fit, and I’m going to act as if I am a sub-4 miler, and believe that I’m more than capable of that and much more. I still don’t know what the next race will be, but I know I’m headed to Iowa state to knock out a NCAA qualifier.
The first race of 2019, a mile in the Smithfield house- a 5 lap to the mile track with nearly 100m straight aways and tight turns. This was probably my last race in the Smithfield house, and I can’t say that disappoints me. All jokes aside, It was nice to have a home crowd and I appreciate everyone who came and supported my teammates and I.
For those that don’t know, me racing shorter events will be a common theme of 2019 as far as the indoor and outdoor season are concerned. In the first month of post cross fitness building as I gear up for a long winter, spring, and hopefully summer of racing on ovals I have gone with an approach slightly out of my norm for the past 4 years. Traditionally I would hammer out some December miles, a few tempos and Fartlek style workouts and show up to school in January ready for some rust-busting track work. Call it unorthodox, or whatever you want.. but I’ve decided to mix in some light speed, to go with those tempos and aerobic based workouts in order to gear up for some middle distance racing in January and February.
I’ve always had an infatuation with 400m repeats, and really anything where I could spin my legs a little quicker, and in workouts that emphasize the speed side of our sport I’ve flourished in comparison to my aerobic heavy and “slow twitch” teammates (I know that training for the 3000m and the Mile isn’t fast-twitch).
Anyways— this mile was a tired legs, early training cycle, high-altitude dress rehearsal for the real deal in 2 weeks. I went out hard and aggressive, I wanted to test the boundaries of my fitness and red-line this a little. Through 409m I was 61.xx, I followed that lap by coming through 809m in 2:02.xx, at this point in the race I actually felt decent, I decided to keep my foot on the gas and push the third 400m.
I was alone at this point and thought my pace was remaining steady, as I came through the subsequent split coach yelled “3:05”! I was a little surprised to have ran a 63 on the previous lap but I still felt okay and tried again to dig and push myself even though I was alone. I closed that final lap in a similar pace running 4:08 and taking home the win leading the entire last 800m.
I was shooting for a couple seconds faster, but in reflection I’ll consider this “rust buster” a solid performance and I look forward to competing with some top level talent in another mile @ the Dempsey on January 26th. This will probably be my one and only legitimate shot of breaking 4 in my collegiate career, the thought of that excites me and I feel confident I’ll be ready.
Some of you reading this may question the decision to drop in distance, I’ve trained for the same events, and same races for my entire collegiate career. The thought of trying something new makes me excited and I feel like I’ve been stuck in a similar position for the last 18 months. Seems only logical to make some changes in order to improve.