Thursday, July 30, 2015

Beat The Heat 5k


Hey Everyone!  This past Saturday night I competed in the Beat The Heat 5k in Winston Salem, NC which is also the NC USATF 5k Road Championship.  It always draws a great field of runners from across the state and this year was no exception.

I drove up with my Mom and Dad and little brother and sister (gotta bring my cheering squad) late Saturday afternoon as the race was set to start at 7:00 PM.  The weather was pretty typical for this race and for NC in late July.  The weather app on my phone showed a temperature of 86F and dew point of 64F at the race start, pretty warm and sticky, but not bad by NC standards and it didn't feel too bad.

On Friday, my Dad and I sat down and came up with a game plan for the race.  I haven't done that much speed work so far this cycle, coming off of Grandma's Marathon last month, so I wasn't sure how I'd do in a 5k race, but I knew I was plenty strong.  We wanted to be sure I didn't start off too quick with my lack of speed work so far, but we figured I could close well the second half of the race with my strength.  So we turned my Garmin to the kilometer setting and came up with a target pace range for each km.  This is the way I have been doing my workouts recently so I felt confident with this approach.

After adjusting for the course here was our plan:

1st km:  3:20-3:25  (slight up-hill)
2nd km:  3:15-3:20 (downhill)
3rd km:  3:35-3:40 (long uphill)
4th km:  3:25-3:30 (first part uphill)
5th km:  3:15-3:20 (downhill)
Target time:  16:45 to 17:15

By 7:00 PM all the competitors were on the starting line and we were off!

Here is a video of the start:
video

It was crowded but I worked to get in my rhythm and made it the 1st kilometer in 3:20 - right on the fast end of my target range - awesome - but that put me in 5th place, a little further back than I had hoped.

Here I am coming through the 1 mile marker:


The second kilometer is downhill so I let it roll some and came through in 3:16 for that km and 6:36 overall. and had moved up into 3rd place.

The 3rd kilometer is a long gradual uphill and so I knew this would be a tough one.   I stay focused and powered my way up and my watch beeped 3k in 10:13 / 3:37 for the 3rd KM - right in range.  At this point I had started to close in 2nd place and made it my mission to catch her by the 4k point.  It was hard as the first half of the km is uphill but I managed to catch her and take over 2nd right as my watch beeped again.  The 4th km was 3:32 and 13:45 overall.  I was 2 seconds out of range that km but knew I had worked hard and hit several of the early splits on the low end of the range so I wasn't worried.

I knew several of the girls I was racing had collegiate middle distance backgrounds, so now I had to keep pushing the pace so that I didn't find myself in a kick with a college 1500 runner.  That last kilometer is downhill so I worked hard and hit my fastest split of the night with a 3:11, 4 seconds faster than my plan.  :)

This put me at 5k in 16:56 and the faster half of my goal range. WooHoo!  But the problem with pacing by your Garmin is that the course may measure differently and that was the case today.  It ended up being 5.13k on my watch so when my watch beeped for 5k, I still had 130 meters to run.  That took me 24 seconds so my official time was 17:20 and 2nd place female.  I know the course is accurate, so that is my time, and I am sure my Garmin was off because of not being able to run the tangents because of the crowded race and maybe because of a few big sweeping turns that Garmin's usually has accuracy issues on.  But I am OK with that.  I trained by my Garmin, we used that training to set-up my race plan and I was able to execute my plan as I wanted.  While I would have liked a faster official time, I am happy with the way I executed the race and being able to hit my pace targets, especially on a warm summer evening.

Here is a video of me in the final 100 meters:
video

Congratulations to Andie Cozzarelli (former NC State runner and current Oiselle elite team runner) on getting the overall win.  She ran a strong race from start to finish and hit a road PR of 16:53.  This is my 3rd time finishing 2nd in the NC USATF State 5k Champs - hopefully I'll get to win it one year. ;P

Here is a picture of the top 6 women at the awards ceremony afterwards (Andie and I are the 2 shortest)


I got an extra special award though from my little sister in the form of a ginormous hug! :)  Rosie hugs are the best!!


I have a couple more races planned before a fall marathon.  I am beyond excited about my fall marathon but can't announce which one quite yet.  Hopefully soon.

And then it is on to the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials / U.S. Marathon Championships in Feb 2016.   I am officially signed-up and looking forward to the opportunity to race against the best in the country in the distance I specialize in.

I had a meeting with my parents this week and am making a few tweaks to my training (adding in more quality) to help me be as competitive as possible in these upcoming marathons.

Stay tuned for more on my fall marathon and for training updates.

Happy Running!

Alana :)



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Summer Events & Future Plans


Hey! Wanted to get everyone up to speed on some events that have happened this summer and my plans for the fall and winter.

First, I GRADUATED high school in June! WooHoo!!! :D

I will be attending the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the Fall under Pre- Kinesiology.

At the end of June I went up to Duluth, MN for Grandma's Marathon.  While I was there I interviewed with Carrie Tollefson (interview link on my media page) and participated in the press conference!  Unfortunately for the race I had an upset stomach that morning I made it to mile 12 before getting sick (yuck :P) and then was sick multiple times until I had to stop at 18.  I was devastated to not be able to display all the hard work I had done in preparation.


The disappointment in Duluth really has doubled my motivation to have a strong fall as I race another marathon (have decided on which and hope to announce that soon) and work towards the Olympic Trials in February.  I really want to raise my game heading into these 2 events and get to that next level (top 10 at the Trials) so have gotten back to work with a vengeance.  I am hitting the track regularly for speedwork, doing my tempo runs on hillier routes and attacking my strength training (see my picture page for videos of my drill circuit).  And I am working hard to take full advantage of the heat and humidity that is Poor Man's Altitude during a Charlotte summer.     



To help me get to the next level, I have also taken the time to start reading some sports psychology books to help build up my mental toolbox when it comes to races and training.  Below is one I just finished and really enjoyed; it's a good starter book that helps to break down the overall psych of competing and training. 


I am excited for the future and will keep you all updated on my training and racing here on this blog, on my Facebook page, and over my social media accounts.  

 Thanks for all the support! 

Great things ahead!

- Alana :) 



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spring Racing


Happy to be getting back out and racing more frequently this spring, even if just using some races as workouts.  This is something I plan to continue going forward - racing more frequently.

Know Your Craft 5k

On April 4th, I ran the Know Your Craft 5k in Charlotte, NC.  I did it un-tapered as a speed workout and loved racing again in my hometown and in front of some family and friends.  I picked up the over-all woman's win and earned a $100 - cool way to spend a Saturday morning. :)

Starting line in Kentucky

On April 25th, I ran in the Kentucky Derby Festival Half Marathon in Louisville, KY.  Loved this race and the fun atmosphere of Louisville the week before the Kentucky Derby despite the rain showers.  Enjoyed getting in a hard effort and especially enjoyed the tour of Churchill Downs during the race.  I finished 3rd female over-all and earned $1000 for my college savings.

I am traveling to Cleveland this weekend for the Rite-Aid Cleveland 10k on May 17th, and looking forward to racing my first hard 10k effort in a while and going back to Cleveland for the first time since I ran my marathon debut there in 2013.  

After Cleveland, my next race will be the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN and it is my goal race for this spring training cycle. Can't wait to go back to Duluth (love racing there) and test my fitness over a full marathon distance and against some of the finest lady marathoners in the country.  Going to be a fun day!  

Training is going well, I am through my AP exams as I finish-up my last month of my senior year of high school, and I am excited about the opportunities and adventures (new races, starting college, getting ready for the Olympic Trials) the rest of the year and the future holds. :)



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Feb. 25th Update & Race Schedule

Hey everyone!  I wanted to write an update to tell you about my last race and let you know my race schedule for this coming spring.


Race Report:  On February 15th, I ran in the 26.2 with Donna Marathon in Jacksonville, FL.  I was leading a pack of the top women at 6 miles when we had to transition from the road to the beach for a 2 mile stretch.  I twisted my ankle in the soft sand during the transition and tweaked my Achilles, but I was able to get back going and stayed right in the lead pack of women for the 2 mile stretch on the beach, hoping that my Achilles would feel better when got back on the road at 8 miles.  As we transitioned from the beach to the road we again had to run through another section of soft sand and once again the sand gave way under my foot and I twisted my ankle again and this time significantly strained my Achilles.  I tried to walk it off again but couldn’t place any weight on it so had to withdraw from the race.  I was devastated, as I was feeling good until that point and excited about being out in a competitive race and leading the pack.  I also really loved everything else about the race including meeting Donna and all the great people associated with the race, doing a social group run on Friday with Joan Benoit Samuelson and meeting and hanging with some great fellow marathoners. I also greatly appreciate the race's hospitality while I was there.  Great people associated with this race.


Achilles Update:  I got lucky, it was just an Achilles strain and not a tear as I first feared.  I was able to get into and see my expert team at Carolina Sports Clinic on Monday and they confirmed the strain and no sign of a tear (had full strength still).  They worked on the Achilles and I took the next 4 days off and treated the Achilles with contrast baths, rolling, and light stretching exercises multiple times per day.  It worked as by Friday I was pain fee and able to do some light jogging and ran easy over the weekend.  On Monday, I went back to CSC for some more work and dry needling to get the rest of the junk out the area.  As of today I am feeling back to 100% normal but will wait until next week before I try to do any quality running on it.  I 100% recommend that any athletes, especially runners and triathletes in the Charlotte area, to go see Josh, Brad and Leah and the rest of the staff at Carolina Sports Clinic if they have any injuries or issues.  They have really been there for me this last year whenever I’ve had any aches and pains along the way. 

Schedule Update:   Ok so I have spent the last 2 weeks planning out my schedule for the next few months until my next marathon and here is what I tentatively have planned.

April 25th :   Kentucky Derby Festival Mini-Marathon (Half Marathon) – Louisville, KY
May 17th :   Rite-Aid Cleveland 10k – Cleveland, OH
June 20th :   Grandma’s Marathon – Duluth, MN

So a 10k’s, a half marathon, and a marathon and possible 1 or 2 smaller races I might use as training.  Hoping to take my PR’s down some in each if weather and training cooperate.  Excited to run a 10k’s again to get my speed on and keep marathon pace feeling easier. :)

Happy Running!


Alana


Friday, January 30, 2015

Tempo-Long Run

Hi everyone!  I put together a video to show you a tempo-long run workout that I did recently in my training for the 26.2 with Donna - Finish Breast Cancer Marathon on Feb 15th.




Just 2 weeks away now, getting excited to race again!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Well another year has come and gone.  Christmas was a blast and the New Year will soon be upon us along with my 18th birthday!!!  There have been many tough trials that have gone on this year and some amazing victories as well.  I have learned so much this year about myself and about training/racing.

With the New Year coming up it is time to take a look at my goals and make a plan for 2015.  I like to take time with my parents and talk about my goals and plans to see if the past year has changed anything and to use those goals to make a plan of attack for the year to accomplish what I want to for the upcoming year.  Fortunately even through the tough trials of 2014 it has only solidified my need and want to follow through and complete my goals.  I have broken my goals into two main categories: Running Goals and Life Goals.  While they both help each other it’s easier to process having two goals rather than one extremely large one. :)


My Goals:

Running- My running goal is to explore my full potential in the marathon and half marathon races; have a long career as a professional marathoner; and represent the U.S.A. well in as many World Championships, Olympics, and major marathons as possible.

Life- My life goal is to use my career as a professional marathoner to help me start a charity “Alana’s Hope for Autism” focused on helping children with autism get the therapies the need to help them live happy, healthy, and productive lives. 

            As I am nearing the half way point in my senior year of high school, college is on my mind constantly.  With my life goal in mind I plan to get my bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a master’s degree in occupational therapy as I pursue my running career.  At this point I’m still unsure as to where I will be going to college, though it seems the options have been narrowed to UNC Charlotte and High Point University.  As the rest of senior year continues I’ll have a better idea, though one thing is for sure, I want to stay close to home. :)

Now I know that my running goal is a big one so I have created a game plan for specifically 2015.

2015 Game Plan

Main Goal: continue to improve my marathon time in preparation for 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials so that I can be as competitive as possible at the Trials

Racing Strategy: 3 marathons - One in the middle of February, one in late spring or early summer (May-June), and one in the fall (October or early November).  I’ll also run 1-2 races, ranging from 10k to half marathon, in between each marathon.

Now on to super-duper exciting news!!!!!   I am very happy to announce that I will be running the 26.2 with Donna- Finish Breast Cancer Marathon in Jacksonville, Florida on February 15th, 2015.


Timing wise this race works perfect as it is around the same time the Trials will be in 2016.  It is a fast course that normally gets nice weather and sounds like it will set up for a great race!  I have been back into full training and am excited to be preparing for this race. 

To me my running is not just about myself, but is a way to help others as well - in Indianapolis this past November I was able to donate a portion of my course record bonus to the Autism Society of Indiana.  I want to do something similar in all my future marathons as well.  So with that in mind, at the 26.2 with Donna Marathon I am pledging to donate 10% of any prize money I win to the “26.2 with Donna Foundation” to fund breast cancer research and care.

The beginning of 2015 is looking great with my 18th birthday in January and racing the 26.2 with Donna Marathon in February.  I plan to continue to work to take more and more time off of my marathon PR this year and finish off high school with a bang!


2014 was a good year but let’s make 2015 even better!!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

2:38:34 - New Course Record, New Personal Best


I am so happy to report that last Saturday (Nov 1st), I won the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon with a time of 2:38:34!!!  It was a new course record and a PR by 3:20.  

I have put out a new video diary on Flotrack.org talking through my race and thoughts:


Watch more videos on Flotrack


Here are some pictures from the race and weekend:

 

We flew to Indianapolis on Thursday and checked into our hotel - The Westin in downtown Indianapolis



I went out Thursday afternoon and bought my brother the Andrew Luck jersey he has been wanting. :)   Of course I had to try it on first. 



On Friday afternoon my Dad and I had the great opportunity to talk at the race Expo about training and racing.  Great crowd and we loved meeting everyone!  



Then it was on to the elite runner meeting, getting my race number and turning in my fluid bottles along with everyone else's (we had some creative runners by the looks of some of the bottles). :)  



Then it was time for my favorite part about the day before a race:  Lasagna Dinner!!!!
Ate at Buca deBippo in downtown Indianapolis, just like last year - yummy!  



Race morning it was cold and windy and 17 mph winds at the start - but I had a good game plan for the conditions and was feeling good - thumbs up and ready to roll.  

Start Time:  8:00 AM   Temp 30F and 17 MPH winds;  Wind Chill of 18F


I got out smoothly and settled in with a group of guys looking to run 1:19 HM or 2:39'ish Marathon. It was great to have people to work with and these guys were awesome.  Special thanks to Jesse for helping us to 20 miles and to John for getting the Masters Men win.  


By 20 miles we had spread out and I ran by myself for most of the last 6.2 miles


I stayed focused and concentrated on maintaining my pace and cadence and keeping good form in those final miles.


Finally I rounded the last corner and the crowd was so awesome, I could see the clock and sprinted as best I could towards the finish line.


I threw my hands in the air and flashed the peace sign as I crossed the finish line.


I did it - the win, the course record and a big new PR:  2:38:34 (officially)


OMG - I did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!    And Dad was there to give me a big hug - victory hugs are the best hugs.


Celebrated with a new friend Ashley from the Autism Society of Indiana and later talked to the crowds at the finish.


Enjoyed a great post race lunch with fellow 2016 U.S. Marathon Trials Project member, Sarah Lannom, and her parents. 


Very proud to hang my race certificate on my wall showing my new PR and putting it right below my one from last year showing my 3:20 improvement.


Was incredibly honored when the USATF named me the USATF Athlete of the Week for my win and course record. What an incredible honor and one I am humbled to receive.



But by far the greatest thing that happened all weekend was that by breaking the course record I earned a bonus and was able to donate 25% of that bonus to the Autism Society of Indiana, and the race organizers matched that donation.  I thought of this repeatedly during the race, especially in the last 6 miles, and it kept me motivated, positive and determined all race long. 

Race Stats

Start Weather:  Temp 30F   Wind:  N 17 mph   Windchill: 18F
Finish Weather:  Temp 33F   Wind:  N 15 mph  Windchill: 23F

1st Place Female / Course Record / 2:38:34

10k split:  37:20  (6:00 avg. pace)

Half Marathon split:   1:19:28 (6:04 overall avg.)  (6:07 avg. from 10k to HM)

30k split:  1:52:46  (6:03 overall avg.)   (6:01 avg. from HM to 30k)

Marathon:  2:38:34  (6:03 overall avg.)  (6:03 avg. from 30k to Finish)

1:19:28 first half  / 1:19:06 second half

Fueling:
4-6 oz of Gatorade each at 10k, 20k and 30k
Chocolate Outrage Gu at 20k
3-6 oz water at  9, 15, 21 miles

Pre-Race:  16 oz Powerade, Full package of orange Chomps (2 servings), Med. Banana