2012 was a truly remarkable year as I finally became my childhood dream and BECAME an Olympian. As you all know it wasn’t just making the team that was so special but my entire Olympic experience, especially the race itself and the fact that my entire family was able to share it with me. August 11, 2012 will forever have a special place in my heart. With that being said I was kind of sad to say goodbye to 20-12. It was a defining year filled with so many fond memories; a magical year that I never wanted to end; it was in all honesty a dream come true! As I sadly said good bye to one year I tried to focus on welcoming in the next.
2013 came as those that did before it, surrounded by close friends, celebrating and toasting the future and what laid in store. This year there was far less pressure and less nervous anticipation. I had after all become my dream and a significant weight was lifted. What was waiting for me in 2013, what new goals and aspirations woud I set for myself? This year, without all the additional pressures associated with an Olympic year, I felt as though I was going through the motions a little. I wasn’t so focused and dare I say a little less motivated.
But time never stops, life moves on, the world keeps spinning, so inevitably I too was going to have to move on, cherish the past while training for the future and enjoying the present. I had clocked some great end of the year workouts in Decemember which showed me that despite feeling out of shape coming off my post Olympic hype (as an athlete you always want to compare your current fitness to your previous race best, which while unrealistic during preseason/base training is usually inevitable, and usually discouraging as no one begins one season as well as she/he ended the previous one) I was actually in fairly good shape. It was great to be able to log some early season miles and not be hindered by any major injuries. Even last year 2011 into 2012 holiday season I was nursing a hamstring issue that had begun in late October.
Mother nature was at her best again mixing it up with snow, and cold, and then the occassional mild beautiful day. One week we had a cold snap where there temperatures were in the single digits (F) and even colder with the wind chill. After toughing out my repeat 2k’s on Tuesday of that bitter cold week outdoors I decided it was wiser to train indoors on the elliptical. It wasn’t until Saturday of that week when I was able to race walk again, but since it was still as cold I was forced to change my hard workout for a shorter faster tempo training session. I was lucky to have access to an indoor track that was a full 200m by showing up before the first high school meet and banging out some fast laps during their warmup. Of course this meant I was weaving in and out of runners and dodging hurdles but still better than the alternative to training outdoors. That day I had a super fast speed workout that I have only done twice ever because it is so short and fast and we primarly train for the 20k year round.
While this workout was suppose to serve primarily as a confidence booster it was anything but that. The fastest 400 I was able to bang out was only a 1:43 which to put it into perspective would equate to 6:52 1600 way slower than my goal time of 6:40. The workout left me questioning how was I going to handle that pace for four straight laps when I couldn’t even hit it for one lap.
I was left feeling very uneasy after that workout and felt I was struggling to push away the doubt and keep the negative thoughts from creeping in. It went so far that I actually contemplated withdrawing from the Millrose Mile to allow myself two more solid weeks of 20k training. (This thought was shared with no one, not even my coach nor my fiance!) I cannot believe that this thought how ever fleeting actually crossed my mind. And then thankfully my logical positivity set in and I had a great one on one pep talk with myself. I asked myself would I want to race the mile if it were an international competition and the answer was an easy, “yes, of course!” Well then why was it I was so afraid to race at Millrose; in my own backyard for crying out loud! That was also an easy question to answer, well I was “afraid to fail” or should I say “afraid of getting beaten”. I was after all the 2012 Olympian and that title felt like it came with additional pressure, the bar was set higher and I had a higher standard to perform to. In actuality this was all self applied pressure. If I were so willing to compete internationally and see what I was capable 0f, then I should go out attacking with the same attitude a local national race. And oh wait, didn’t I always compete much better than my training times would ever suggest? After that mini pep talk a sense of confidence and nervous excitement came over me and I felt ready to go, ready to get out there and fight fight fight. I was after a new PR and the Armory was the perfect track to do it on.
Now needless to say my heart was pounding as I stepped on the track and did my last few strides before being called to the starting line. But I was ready to go, and all that nervous anticipation was ready to be turned into kinetic energy! As usual, the gun went off and instinctively my fierce competitor nature took over and it was game time. The first lap I missed hearing my 100m split and came through lap 1 (209 meters since the mile is 1609, so you start 9 meters behind the finish line) in a little over 51 seconds.
Wow that was really encouraging because it felt so effortless and I was afraid I had fallen into a comfort zone as being a 20k athlete it is often hard to force one’s self to go hard and experience pain immediately from the sound of the gun. After the first lap, the rest of the field had backed off of me, wow I thought I can’t believe how much I had stressed over this race. Just because no one was stepping on my heels didn’t mean someone wouldn’t come up on me and be a threat later. Regardless I was on my own mission, 6:40 for a PR! I clicked off pretty consistent splits and finished in just over 6:40 with a new meet record of 6:40.06!
What a solid start to my 2013 racing season! This was just the confidence booster I needed and the reassurance that not only was I in great early season shape but that yes as true to self I race way better than my training ever indicates! I hate saying this but there was a little more left in the tank but no worries, I’m saving that for next year because TEAMmate Rachel (currently out on maternity) asked for a rematch and we are both capable of a 6:30 blazing fast mile, next year will sure be a lot of fun!
Millrose was a great learning lesson about how important it is to believe, truly and fully believe in one’s self and to never skip out on something for perceived fear of failing. I can safely share this because: 1) I was able to mentally get back in the game after a great pep talk 2) because it just shows you that no one, no matter how mentally tough and positive you think she may be is immune from an occasional negative thought or self doubt and 3) it is always better to take a risk, because you never know just how great you can be until you try!
In addition to my great learning lesson Millrose has left me more pumped and excited than ever before! Nothing will be able to top the emotional high that my 2012 racing season gave me, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be even better, even faster, tougher, and stronger! Cheers to my new 2013 year, the possibilities are endless, and yes THE BEST IS YET TO COME!