... almost long enough to make a necklace (definitely enough for a bracelet).
Things have been up and down since the time trial at NW Missouri. I'd have a bunch of terrible training day, followed by an outstanding workout, and then right back to feeling awful again. Over the past month I've run a handful of races, and I haven't really been happy with any of them.
• Sioux City Relays 5k - I was really excited when I saw there was a woman entered at 17:20, because I was hoping I could run right around there. When the gun went off, she and a teammate acting as her pacer shot off the line. I'm not sure what her goal time was, but I could tell it was considerably faster than I was prepared to run and let them go. After just a few laps, the pacer stepped off. A few laps later (I think it was about 2k), apparently she wasn't on the pace she wanted and her coach told her to step off. While both girls had opened up a decent gap on me, I had locked my eyes on them and was trying to use them to pull me along; and, with both of them out of the race, I was in the lead and had to find the drive within me. I slowed some, but managed something resembling a kick and finished in 17:43, a new track pr by 13 seconds and a victory. I know I shouldn't complain about any pr, but I didn't feel too bad physically afterward and I just wasn't happy with the time.
• Princeton Larry Ellis steeple and 1500 - I wanted so badly to run well at Princeton, since that's where I've had my big breakthroughs each of the past 2 years. I had a pretty high goal for myself (even though it was my season opener) and I didn't hide that. I kept everything pretty routine leading up to the race, including my normal warmup. I was nervous about sharing the track -and barriers - with 22 other women, and I really let that get into my head. I wasn't ever really close to my planned pace and I panicked about hurdling in the crowd. Also, I learned that it's a bad idea to wear brand new spikes for steeple. By the end of the first 1000m, I had sizable blisters on the ends of my toes, and the pain prevented me from being able to get up on my toes and hurdle as well as I normally can. I didn't really do anything very well in that race, although I did manage to stay on my feet. I finished 14th in 10:49. That's my second fastest steeple ever, and well faster than my 2011 opener, but it was far from what I set out to accomplish. I got my blisters treated and then watched my former college teammates run some blazing fast PRs in their races. After a night of sleep, I went back to the track for my 1500. I underestimated how heavy my legs would feel after steeple, and I clawed my way to a 4:52, a new pr by less than a second. It was ugly. I left New Jersey feeling pretty disheartened.
• Nebraska Invitational Steeple - My parents rarely get to watch me race, so I decided to run steeple at home on my birthday weekend. Workouts had been going alright, but not spectacularly. Everyone knows I've always said I'm "not a hot weather runner" and at race time it was 92 degrees and humid. I was still bound and determined to hit my goal. But I got so worked up about the heat that I convinced my body it couldn't perform. Again, I was never on goal pace and had to drop out at 1600m, even though I had a sizable lead, because my vision was getting really blurry. The thing that I'm kicking myself for now is that I was on pace for about a 10:35 when I stepped off the track. Maybe I would have slowed because of the dizziness, but it would've been a 9 second pr if I could have managed to hold the pace. Crap.
• Concordia Twilight Steeple - After Nebraska, I took a day off and then attacked training. I crushed a workout on Wednesday, so I decided on a whim to jump into steeple at a meet just 45 minutes away. When I got there, even with strong winds, I fully intended to go after my ambitious goal yet again... Yeah, brilliant idea, Amanda. On the home stretch, the strong headwind made any forward motion (especially hurdling) nearly impossible. And I didn't have quick enough turnover to keep up with the tailwind on the backstretch. I do have to say that a few of my water jumps were a big improvement on how I did at Princeton and Nebraska, though. I was on pace to run about what I ran at Princeton until 250m to go in the race. I just had a hurdle, a water barrier, and then one final hurdle remaining. Before I knew what happened, I was laying flat on the track. Basically, I hurdled and then forgot to get my feet back under me and I fell hard on my right side, rolling a few times. I think I got up pretty quickly, but it was really hard to get my momentum back after slamming into the ground. My last lap was embarrassingly slow, and my Team Nebraska teammate quickly closed the gap. I was just barely able to kick it in for the win by a quarter of a second. Needless to say, I wasn't at all happy with my time of 11:10. It was the slowest steeple I had run in the last 25 months. Ouch.
With this apparent backward movement in results every time I toe the line, it's very hard not to get discouraged. It would be very easy to see all that time I dedicated to my training in Flagstaff as a waste. But I was really inspired by a blog post my friend Allie wrote about dreams recently. I'd been trying to force my dreams to come true on MY timeline, when what I need to do is focus on doing the work and taking steps toward my dream. I do believe that I will get there... It's just going to take longer than I would like it to.
From now on, I think I'm going to stop praying about the time I want and instead pray for the patience and strength that I'll need for the journey. I'll definitely be sure to pack the bracelet of mediocre/bad races. While the results were not what I wanted, I gained more racing experience and learned something from each of them.
Up next : Hospital Hill Half Marathon on June 2nd in Kansas City, MO