Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Summer of Finding Myself

Hi everyone! It’s been a little while since I have written a blog. Honestly all my different types of social media have been pretty unstable since the start of the year. And it is time for me to come clean and explain what is going on with my running lately as I know people have been having questions on what I’m training for and if I am even training for anything.  I am here today to open myself up and let you know what has actually been going on with my running lately and where I’m at physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I’m going to just get the ball rolling by coming out and saying that I am currently dealing with anxiety in my running.  This anxiety was brought upon losing confidence in myself and my running.  The stress of following my own path in running to follow my passion for the long distances and having people constantly wish for me to fail made me doubt that I was actually cut out to run marathons.  I started losing my passion for my running and training quickly became something I had to do rather than something that I wanted to do.  With this anxiety came panic attacks during hard workouts where I felt like I couldn't breath, even though logically I knew my breathing wasn’t increasing, and all I could think of  is “I can’t do this”.  I eventually had enough of the stress and during last semester of school I took off an 8 week period of time and only ran when I felt like it in order to try to figure out what was going on with me and get myself into a better mental state.

Coming to the realization that my anxiety was caused by self doubt and loss of confidence wasn’t any easy one to accept.  It finally came to head this summer after many conversation with my parents.  I was in denial for the longest time subconsciously knowing the root cause of my anxiety but not wanting to admit it to myself or anyone else as then it becomes reality, I always responded in my default “I don’t know” when my parents would ask me questions to try to help me.  It was hard on them to keep seeing me falling down little by little until I pretty much hit rock bottom and just gave up on hard workouts for those 8 weeks.  Once summer started it was time to take a step back and figure out what I wanted in my life.  With the set back on my running I found myself in a tough financial situation when it came to paying for college and I ended up getting a full time job at a Early Childhood Development Center near my house and currently work 40 hour weeks to be able to pay for next year.  Once I got my job I quickly realized the position I had but myself in with me refusing to admit to anyone what was going on with my running.  It took a bunch of crying but once I finally admitted to my parents that I really did want to be a professional marathon runner but didn’t feel like I was good enough to accomplish that I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I felt so much lighter after that.

After that pivotal talk my parents and I got into making a plan to turn my dreams back into goals and figured out where I am and where I want to be.  This summer is all about finding myself again, physically and mentally. I definitely got really out of shape during that 8 week period of time and this summer is about gaining as much fitness as I can back before I start school again and trying to figure out how to deal with my anxiety.  We have broken the summer up into 3 different segments and instead of running races this summer at the end of each segment I am doing a half marathon time trial to be able to see the improvement in my fitness and to work on dealing with my anxiety before I run another race.  Since that talk I have completed my first of the 3 segments and last Sunday completed my first time trial.  I will admit that I had a panic attack before the time trail where I honestly didn’t want to even start it and kept thinking that I wasn’t ready for it and that I wouldn’t be able to follow the race plan my dad had given me.  I was panicking to the point that I was actually shaking the last half an hour before I started.  I was able to talk myself out of it and remind myself that this time trial was a fitness marker to see where I was, I had to remind myself that my dad would never give me a race plan that he didn’t believe 100% that I was able to accomplish.  Since my self confidence was still shot I ran that time trial based on the confidence I had in my dad, and I ended up coming out on top; of the 1 minute target zone my dad gave me I hit it right in the middle and that feeling after I finished was an amazing one.  I got the feeling of accomplishment back, the feeling you have after a race you're proud of, a feeling I hadn’t had in such a long time and that helped to make  that fire of my passion burn a little brighter.  After this summer of training and my time trials I plan on completing a fall marathon to get myself back to where I want to be, I’m not sure which marathon it’ll be or any other races I will do this fall but I know that I want to get back into racing.

Now I am nowhere near close to having my self confidence all the way back nor is my anxiety close to be completely gone but I am on the path of recovery and working hard at getting my fitness and mental aspect back to where it was when I qualified for the Olympic Trials as a 16 year old.  Anxiety is something that doesn’t go away in the blink of an eye, it takes a lot of time, effort, and support to get over, it’s a lot of arguing with myself and convincing myself that I CAN do this and that I AM good enough. The important part is I have come to accept the fact that I do have anxiety and that I had lost all confidence in myself and in my running.  I’m building myself back up and I have all the support of my family and friends behind me helping me on this hard journey.

By reevaluating everything I have also come to realize, with the help of my parents of course ;), that I have not utilized all my social media accounts and have kept all of my supporters in the dark of what has been happening in my running.  When you keep hearing the negativity of the loud minority it can be difficult to focus on the positivity of others who do support and believe in you.  That is something I want to work on fixing  so I have created a social media plan that I will be trying to implement this summer as well.  In the coming weekends I hope to be reconfiguring my website/blog and really start utilizing all my accounts such as Twitter, Facebook Athlete Page, Instagram, LinkedIn, and AthleteBiz.

I really want to thank all of you for all the support you have been giving me no matter what, words can’t describe how much I appreciate it.  I will be working on keeping everyone in the loop of the going on’s of Alana and learning to not shut everyone out when I struggle with my running.  Have an amazing summer, it’s flying by. :)

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Ringing in 2016

Well 2015 has finally come to an end.  I’ll be honest I’m glad its over. Racing wise this has been a really tough year for me and I’m ready for the new year so I can focus on the brightness of the present and the future rather than the gloom of the past.  Like every negative thing that happens there is a positive side that is often hidden in the cracks that you have to dig to find.  You can learn from everything you do no matter good or bad.  While 2015 has been a rough year I have taken a lot away from it and feel like I have learned a ton about myself, both personally as well as running wise. 

Pushing aside the old year let us look toward 2016!! So much is going on in the beginning of the year.  In the beginning of January I’ll be turning 19 and in just 44 days it will be the US Olympic Marathon Trials in LA! Crazy how fast that has approached.  I am all healthy and in the swing of training; working on my fitness both physically and mentally.

My big news for the year though is that I have signed with a shoe sponsor!! I am now sponsored by On, which is a Swiss Performance Running Shoe Company. After everything that happened with New York to have this opportunity means a lot to me and I am excited to represent On this year. :) :) :)  

People always like to go with the saying "New Year, New Me" during this time and I feel like this is appropriate for right now.  Now that I have had a semester to transition to college life I will be trying to update my blog more as well as my different social media accounts to keep everyone informed on whats happening in the strange (a good strange ;P) life of Alana.

Happy New Year everyone, may your runs be fun!


-Alana <3

Monday, October 12, 2015

NYC training update

Hey everyone!

Only 3 weeks left until the TCS NYC Marathon!!!! AHHHHHHH!! With it on to the final countdown I want to give you all an update on how marathon training is going.

Unfortunately due to weather the half marathon I had planned on doing on October 3rd got postponed until the 31st so I will not be able to run that.  Instead I ended up getting in a great hill workout and 20 mile steady state long run that weekend.

So far during this training cycle I have been hitting some of my fastest workouts ever and am super excited for this build up to NYC.  I am currently starting on those final workouts leading up to the race.  Only 1 more tempo, speed workout, long run, and then my final 3 x 3 mile workout between now and the marathon.

These are the weeks where all the excitement comes out and I hope I will be able to focus in my classes lol!

New York get ready its marathon time.

~Alana <3

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hokie Half Marathon Video Diary

My Flotrack video diary from the 2015 Hokie Half Marathon:


I ran the Hokie Half Marathon in Blacksburg, VA a week and half ago (Sep 20) as one of my 2 prep races for the TCS NYC Marathon.  It is a fun race if you ever get the chance to do it.  It was pretty much a solo effort but I got off to a good solid start (28:59 at 5 miles) which I was happy about, and then the course gets very hilly between 6-10 miles, which was great, so I could practice for the NYC Bridges (VN, Pulaski, Queensboro) and 5th Ave.  Then I coasted in the last 3-4 miles with a comfortable lead (sort of mad at myself for not pushing that) to save legs for a 112 miles a 24 mile long run and a very good speed workout last week as marathon prep continues.  I ended up as the 1st place overall woman and 4th place person and collected some much needed money (college and running shoe bills pile up quickly) in the process.  Not a quick overall time (I knew it wouldn't be) but some good parts to build from and I left Blacksburg healthy and strong.  

I am racing again this coming weekend (Oct 3rd) in Cherokee, NC in the Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon with, you guessed it, a big monster hill in the middle (bigger than then Queensboro Bridge) for more NYC practice.  Hopefully all this crazy rain doesn't wash us all away in that one. :)   I'll report back after that one as well. 

Happy Running & Racing :)

Alana 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I'M IN A NEW YORK STATE OF MIND!


Heeeeyyyy guys!! I'm am absolutely so excited to finally be able to share my awesome news! I am very proud and happy to announce that I will be apart of the elite field at the TCS New York City Marathon on November 1st.



I am super excited to have this opportunity to race in the elite field of the TCS NYC Marathon, something I have dreamed of doing for years.  I believe it will be a tremendous opportunity for me to test myself in NYC and race with the best runners on the planet, as well as provide me with invaluable experience before racing in the Olympic Trials in February.

To help me get ready, I tentatively have plans to run 2 half marathon between now and NYC.  More on those as they approach.

2 weeks ago I moved on campus at UNC Charlotte as I began college, and have made the transition to doing many of my runs around campus, which is actually a pretty hilly campus, good for helping prepare me for the hills and bridges in New York City! :)  My Dad/coach drives up (my family lives 30 miles away from campus) 3 times a week to be there to coach and support me for my stress workouts. :)  

So much is happening in the next 6 months. I am starting college at UNC Charlotte, I will be running the NYC Marathon in November, and I will be running the U.S. Olympic Trials in February.  This next half a year is going to be an awesome experience, opportunity and adventure that I can not wait to continue to dive into!! :D

I will be keeping you all updated on preparations for and my journey to New York City!

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 :)