Saturday, August 20, 2016

Running Eastern Europe

Training always requires flexibility, because as much as you plan, there are always unexpected obstacles, whether from internal or external structures.  Training while traveling demands even more patience.  The external conditions are more unpredictable and the support structure you create to take care of internal conditions (injuries, eating healthy foods, sleeping well) aren’t there. 

Nowhere I have traveled required more openness than when I visited Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for two months.  Runners had three options for training: 1) Run on city roads before daybreak at 5:30 am (After dawn, all sidewalks and roads were literally unrunnable because of the people/chaos); 2) walk the one city park with a one-mile dirt loop, and run circles; 3) Take public transportation to mountains just outside of city, and run (after full light, of course, when the hyenas won’t eat you).  This was my first time outside North America, and it was an incredible lesson in privilege for a recent NCAA Division I graduate.  Forget the piles of Nike clothes and fancy hotels.  I learned from my training pals how incredibly fortunate I am to have consistent calories, to consume protein, to have shoes that fit and a sports bra, to have a home – a shower!, and to have education.  The list could go on for a long time.

As I traveled through Eastern Europe for these past three weeks, I tried to continue training hard to prepare for road races in September.  It ended up being really hard to get quality training in, and I was too often cranky.  My plantar fasciitis flared up from walking on cobblestones, tour groups of fifty people clogged up an entire path, and I never knew where I could find an open track.  I had one workout that went far better than expected, which was followed by one so terrible, my coaches and I decided to wait until I get home to try anything up-tempo again.  I wish I could always clearly hold onto the knowledge of how fortunate I am to be able to train as much as I do, but I can’t.  If I did, I would love every single second I got to spend running in comfortable shoes and had a protein bar waiting at the end of my run.  At the very least, when I remember to reflect, I can appreciate the flexibility I learned, even if I'm not always happy about it.

                                                                 Run in Riga, Latvia

                                                      Another selfie in Berlin, Germany

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

London and Karlstad Racing, Baltic Vacationing

European Racing Plan:
3k at Gothenburg Swedish Grand Prix 7/16 Result: 9:11.04
Steeplechase at London Diamond League 7/23 Result: 9:47
1500m at Karlstad Swedish Grand Prix 7/27 Result: 4:15, Rabbit 1 mile of Steeplechase
3k at Joensuu Games in Finland 7/30 Skipped due to heel injury
Travel Eastern Europe 8/1-8/21

My racing was mediocre until my 1500m and rabbiting in Karlstad.  Racing the steeplechase in London was an amazing opportunity.  I got to race in the 2012 Olympic Stadium, in front of 70,000 fans, with lots of tough women in the race, including the 2012 Olympic gold medalist. 

                                                                    London Stadium
                                          Shalaya Kipp, Genevieve Lalonde, Jessica Kamilos, Me

Karlstad went a lot better.  We ran most of the race a tad bit slower than our all-out race pace, so I kicked as hard as I could at 300m to get 3rd.  20 minutes later I rabbited the steeplechase.  I was worried because I am so bad at pacing my own workouts, but I was able to be right on 9:40 pace through one mile.  Rabbiting is a lot different than racing, because you know you are only going half the distance, but I was amazed at how good I felt.  I felt like I could have pushed through to a 9:40 steeplechase right then and there, which makes me frustrated my last two steeplechase races have been so poor.  After feeling so good rabbiting, I know the poor races are due to my mentality.  I am overwhelmed by how much my mental state can affect how I physically feel in a race.  Amazing.

                                                                 Karlstad 1500m

Now I am traveling through Eastern Europe with my Dad.  We have seen Tallinn, Estonia, Riga, Latvia, and now we are in Vilnius, Lithuania.  I love the contrast between the medieval, soviet, and modern European architecture.  

                                                                  Tallinn Old Town
                                                           Tallinn Soviet Church
                                                                     Riga Church
                                                                    Riga Old Town
                                                       KGB Interrogation Room, Riga
                                                                  Vilnius Church