The plan was to try to run my 3k steeple goal pace for 2k (3k goal is 10:15, so that's a 6:50 for 2k), but I was a little intimidated by the knowledge I'd be doing it all on my own. I was also a little nervous because the barriers I warmed up over were the first ones I'd faced since my bad race at NCAAs last May. On top of that, we had a nice drizzly rain coming down and I discovered just 10 minutes before the race (which started a half an hour later than it was supposed to, as we stood there shivering) that my spikes, while a gorgeous hot pink color, have a slick all-plastic bottom that, when combined with only 1/8-inch spikes, doesn't provide the greatest traction when you step on a wet water barrier. I knew I was going to have to be reeeeeally careful if I didn't want to slip and go for a swim in the water pit.
This could have easily turned out exactly like the 3200 at ASU with all the worries that were bouncing around my brain. But, I took a deep breath and remembered a few important things:
- This is my 5th year of running steeple. I've faced TONS of steeple barriers and these ones are the same height as all the rest. Though sometimes it feels like they grow in the last couple laps, this is not true. 30 inches is 30 inches (barring a mistake on the part of the officials... I've heard plenty of stories about this, and it's my worst nightmare.)
- I completely crushed that workout by myself a few days before, and the workout was a faster pace than I was going to have to run for the time trial.
- My coach knows what she's doing and I trust her. Sometimes she sounds crazy, but she wouldn't set a task before me that is actually impossible.
- I can't control the fact that it's raining. What I can control is how I react to it, so I had to be respectful and cautious about the water barriers, but not afraid.
I normally like to really attack the water barrier so I can get in and out more quickly. But I was so afraid of slipping that I decelerated going into it each time around, landing pretty deep in the water and undoubtedly costing me some valuable time. Still, the pace felt really good and I didn't really die off, finishing my 2k in 6:55 (on pace for a 10:23). I really don't like to make excuses, and I don't think I am when I say I feel that my decision to play it safe on the water barriers easily cost me at least 5 seconds total over the course of 5 laps. I'm really encouraged by how nearly effortless it felt, and I'm excited to see what happens when I get into a race with other women running fast and now that I have new spikes that I think will offer a little more security on the water barriers.
Before the meet, I had made an agreement with the NWMS coach to help pace a few of his girls in the 5k toward their goal of 18:00. I was supposed to at least set the pace for a mile, and then I was free to drop out whenever I wanted. The strong winds that came up made even pacing pretty difficult, as we had the wind pushing us on one straightaway and had to fight through it on the other. Even with that challenge, I hit the halfway point in exactly 9:00, but by that point the only runner still tucked in behind me was my teammate. I continued holding the tempo pace, wanting to get a good workout in and took the win in 17:56, a new track PR (old was 18:04) and Megan finished 2nd in 18:21. Solid day of work for the Team Nebraska steeple women, I'd say!