Another incredible international racing experience in the books.
Headed into competition my mind was mixed with wanting to medal to bring home some hardware to USATF and being nervous that I was no where near acclimated for the weather. The winter was long and brutal and spring was dragging her feet. I left for Chile with the weather still in mid 40’s during the morning and only reaching mid 50’s midday aside from one or two warmer days (ironically it was 70 when we left). Arica, Chile as expected was a warm high 60’s in the am very humid before the cloud burn off and mid 70’s by mid day with humidity decreasing. I was scheduled to race at 4pm originally which would require a very structured eating schedule 24hrs prior to the gun. As it turned out all the races were delayed by an hour to accommodate the early morning men’s 20k since sun rise was only 7:57am. This would hopefully make it slightly cooler for my race.
Leading up to the race all was going well. Travel was smooth despite several rushed frantic connections and my legs felt really great all things considered.I also wasn’t feeling exhausted from lack of plane sleep and did well on my first afternoon shake out upon landing on only 90min of sleep in past 24hrs! The time zone was negligible since they were only 1hr ahead of NY.
The food seemed good the first day for lunch with veggie rice and hard boiled eggs, but was unfortunately oily pasta for dinner. I have done this plenty of times by now and came prepared with my own packets of microwave rice and tuna. Not the tastiest of meals but nutritionally it got the job done. I picked up some variety with oatmeal, dried fruit and nuts, granola bars, peanut butter, ensure nutrition drinks and soup for race night dinner. Friday my stomach was shaky all morning and I decided to no longer eat any of the provided food. It settled down that night thankfully and all else went smoothly.
I woke up at 5:30am and force fed myself 7 slices of cinnamon bread, 3tbsp of peanut butter, one large banana, and 4 egg-hard boiled eggs whites and two yoke plus 500ml of water. Then it was back to bed to try to sleep as much as possible and wake up at 12:30pm to drink one ensure bottle. From then through the race it was Maxim Sports Drink (calories and electrolytes) and water only.
We agreed the night before to meet at 3:30pm down in the lobby to walk to the course. It was extremely convenient having our hotel on the race course. The call room was extremely lax and we were able to come and go getting ready as we pleased up until about 10mim til race start time. I followed my usual prerace routine and did my best to stay cool. We were unable to use ice vests since they need to be frozen the night before and the hotel would not give us access to the freezer. Our wonderful team staff helped improvise and chilled down small towels in coolers of ice water. By the time I got to the starting line I was soaking wet from head to toe and had a cup full of ice cubes in my racing top.
The gun went off and my body went into autopilot. Rachel (Canada) took the race out. I knew we must be going on the more conservative side as my heart rate was low and this was definitely not the case warming up.
It wasn’t until our first kilometer that we knew how fast we were going when we clicked off 4:45. To give perspective my goal pace for ideal race conditions is 4:30, and a handful of competitors in the lead pack had gone that pace or faster previously. We picked it up hitting 4:37 for the next km. At this point I was racing at the correct HR zone but unfortunately had a choice to make. I could back it off and stay with people slowing down or I could pick it up and see just how fast the leaders wanted to go. I decided to go with the leaders and hit 4:28 for the next km, this was way too fast and too much of a taxing effort with my HR several beats above where it should be. I decided to ease off and knew I would have to race solo and try to pick people off as they dropped. This is pretty much how the next 16k proceeded. I moved from about 10th place into 5th place by 10k or so and then pressed on to make sure number 6 and 7 didn’t come back up on me.
I finished in 1:34:06. Slower than PAC trials, and well off my PR but felt very satisfied with the way I raced. I was fortunate not to have to walk solo for the majority of the race although I was the one setting and pressing the pace. The one time I decided to ease up and let someone else take the km into the wind we slowed by 8seconds! With about 7km to go both glutes began to fatigue but unlike PAC Trials where just the left one locked up both of them became pretty evenly spent. I hung tough and powered on, despite slowly slowing splits. I was never close to the leaders after that first 3k and they would go on to finish between 1:29:30 and 1:31:30. I knew I had to fight to hold onto 5th place in case one of the leaders dropped or was DQ’d (a Peruvian girl and Guatemalan girl both had two red cards so it was entirely possible).
I know there is more work to get me strong enough especially in this weather to be able to race against that top pack. That will be the focus of the next two months of training between now and Pan Am Games. I am unsure of what my average HR was for the entire race as my strap was slipping from the first 1km on (most likely due to the amount of ice I put in my racing top). Just after 15km it was no longer accurately reading my HR and I pulled it off and chucked it. Overall it was a very solid race, and still under both the 2015 IAAF World Standard and 2016 Olympic Standard. To top it off, Miranda had a very strong race and together with her and Katie Burnett who hung on and dug deep we scored 35 team points earning third place Pan Am Team Title! This was rewarded with a large team trophy that we will be sending back home to USATF!
While our number one goal is to race well on these trips, after the race we try to fit in as much fun as possible! (Although it isn’t as though we aren’t enjoying ourselves before it too)