Monday, November 28, 2011

FootLocker South Region

(South Region Top 10)

Hey everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.
This weekend has been awesome in my opinion!  This past Saturday, November 26th, was the FootLocker South Region Cross Country Meet.  The meet is held at McAlpine Park and has multiple races for everyone throughout the day.  I was running in the girls seeded (championship) race, where the top ten runners qualify for the national championship race to be held in San Diego in 2 weeks.  To say I was excited for this race was an understatement, I was pumped! 
When I got to McAlpine race morning, I loved walking around and seeing all the great runners from all across the 14 states in this region.  I did a nice warm-up run and prayed while I psyched myself up for the race.  Then I did some drills and sprints to get the ole engine rolling.   When it was race time I went and got in my spot on the starting line that my Mom had saved for me, and mentally got ready for the start of the race.  I had a plan going into the race that I wanted to try and hit.  I was prepared for a quick start but wasn’t prepared for exactly how fast it really would be.
Everyone was on the starting line (all 200+ of us) waiting for the gun to go off.  I knew I needed to be ready to go fast to get up towards the front so I don’t have to spend energy weaving around people late in the race.   When the gun went off everyone took off at seemingly full speed for the first quarter mile.  I was able to get to the front of the pack as we ran down the opening half mile straightaway.  We went through the 1k point in 3:14-3:15, a full 5 seconds faster than I planned and most of that in the first quarter mile.  Despite the speed, there was a huge group as we weaved through the forest.  After so fast a start I could feel the lactic acid building up in my legs, but I knew this was a race not a biology lesson.  So I continued to be the one to push the pace up front as we went by the 1 mile and 2k points because I knew I was strong enough to hold on in the last mile even if I wouldn’t necessarily get the win.
As we came to the hill at about a mile and half, there was a pack of about 11 or 12 of us.  Seeing as how there are only 10 spots that make the finals each of us attacked the hill.   I powered up the steep hill and flew on the downhill, we all did.  Coming off the hill I was in about 6th place.  My body kept going as we rounded the lake, knowing that it wanted to slow down but shouldn’t.  I was passed once going around the lake as the field started to stretch out.  As we passed the 2 mile point I was in 7th place.  As we enter the back section of the course we passed pockets of people cheering like crazy.  Just before we reached the 4k point Sammy George (another NC runner) zoomed past me and caught and passed the girl (Bridget) just in front of me as well.   I knew I was in 8th place and that I needed to really start pushing it and not let anyone else pass me and to not let Bridget get any further ahead of me.  As we got to the last 800 meters of the race I heard people yelling for the runners behind me, encouraging them to catch me.  I never looked back so I had no clue how many there were or how close but I did know I really wanted a spot on the South Region team for the nationals.  So I started to really focus and push as I returned back to the lake for the final 600 meters.    As I turned onto the lake all I could hear were cheers and people telling me that the girls behind me were trying to gain on me.  I sped up some more, and my arms started feeling like lead, but the only think I could think of was “you can’t get passed now, you got to make it to San Diego!”.    As I made the final turn and started down the last 200 meter straightaway, the noise was deafening and I kicked it in to the finish line in 8th place.
When I crossed the line I was so tired but I couldn’t have been happier, I had made it on to nationals!  The top ten girls were then escorted to a tent where we were given some water and had some forms to fill out for Nationals, had our pictures taken and did a few interviews.   Man it was truly amazing and I was so happy!  The top ten girls were all awesome and can’t wait to go to San Diego and run with them.  Go Team South!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Racing In Savannah

Award ceremony in Savannah

Hey everyone, hope all has been going good for you.  Well this past weekend was sure a running weekend for sure with the Savannah Rock n' Roll Half & Full Marathon on Saturdy and the ING New York City Marathon on Sunday.  Congratulations to all who ran.

Well, I went to Savannah to do the half marathon, last Saturday.  I went with my mom, as my dad was in NYC because one of his runners, Molly Pritz, was running her debut marathon.    There were quite a few people from Charlotte there in Savannah so I saw alot of familiar faces.  As you know from my blog, my last race didn't turn out very good, but I had figured out why.  Well, I must report that my race in Savannah went awesome!

As I ran my race I was calm and confident.  While I ran I stayed focued on trying to stay on pace and I turned any thoughts in my head to positive ones.  When I slowed down slightly in the 7th mile, insted of getting upset, I just said "okay, now lets try to get back on pace."  Instead of letting negative thoughts of slowing down consume me like in the last race, I looked at the positives and knew I could do it.  So I continued to push knowing God would be proud.  I pushed all way to the final straightaway.  That final straightaway was about 300 meters long and with a strong head wind against us.  My goal in the race was to get under 1:17:00 and as I passed the 13 mile point I knew it was going to be very close.  I was tired but motivated to give it my best so I sprinted in the best I could that last .1 miles.  I kept saying to myself  "come on, come on, you can do it" in my head the whole way.  As I pushed across the the finish line, I was close but wasn't sure if I had done it.  I did't care, I had run a great race, gave it 100% and was happy.  My gun time ended up as 1:17:01 and my chip time was 1:16:58 and I had finished as the 3rd women overall in a pretty big race.

Looks like I have figured our how I race best.  Those negative thoughts can kill you in a race so I have to stay positive.  I took what I did wrong in my last race and learned from it.  I had taken my focus away from giving my 100% best effort and praising God, and instead started focusing in the negatives and shut down.  But in Savannah, I made sure I focused on looked at the positives and gave it my 100% best effort no matter what.  When I slowed down some, I made sure I kept my focus and made sure I was giving it my best effort in the race.  The only thing you can control in a race is giving it your 100% best effort, and if you do that the time and place will take of themselves. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Everything Happens For A Reason

Just before the hill on the McAlpine course

Hey everyone, I hope all is going well for you.
Well yesterday I went and ran my first 5k cross country race.    It was the UNC Charlotte Invitational college meet at McAlpine Park in Charlotte, and I was running as an unattached runner.  This was the first 5k cross country race I had ever run and I was excited.  As I got there I marveled at all the colleges setting up tents for their runners.  How cool is that!
Going into the race I had a game plan and was ready to race.  After I got checked in, I went and jogged the only major hill on the course so I would know how the footing was that day.  I run the course enough to know it can change on a daily basis.  Then I found my assigned box on the starting line and mapped out how best to get out cleanly and work my way over to the main path.    Then I did my warm-up jog on the course and ended it with an up-tempo lap around the lake.  I knew the conditions of the course, I was very fit, and I had a good game plan.  I was ready in every way for this race, or so I thought.
As start time approached I went to the starting line and got my place and got ready to go.  When the gun sounded I took off and followed my plan and gradually made my way over to the main path without a problem.  I didn’t even have to sprint as much as I had thought.    I settled in with the lead pack of college girls and we made our way down the starting straightaway.  Around the 1 kilometer point our group was about 7 runners as far as I could tell and we went through the 1k mark in 3:22, right on pace.  As we went through the woods I worked my way up to 4th in the pack and as we neared the mile point I could hear another runner come up beside me.  We hit the mile in 5:23-5:24, still right on pace as planned.  Right after that we swapped positions some in the pack and made our way towards the second kilometer point.  At the 2nd k I forgot to get my split but I didn’t worry about it, the hill was coming up and I started thinking about not slowing down.  That was the wrong thing to think!  It put me in a defensive frame of mind and I needed to be aggressive going into the hill.  As I turned to go into the hill I was on the outside of the pack and didn’t accelerate into it like I need to in order to attack the hill.  As we got to the top, and began the very steep downhill I started worrying about my footing, as I didn’t feel to confident on it yet.  I was scared to fly down too fast and loose control.  I guess I ran it too conservative because at the bottom I looked up the pack had gapped me by about 20 meters.  As we came out of the woods and started around the lake, I started to dwell on the fact that I should have run that hill sooo much better.   As I passed the 3k point I forgot to get my split again, and just after that a girl had caught me and passed me just around the 2 mile point (11:04).  I was disappointed in that split and instead of getting myself back ito the race I started feeling sorry for myself and starting to get tired.  At the turn to go into the back loop of the course, my dad was there to encourage me to try and get me back into it mentally.  However I didn’t pay attention; I was too busy feeling sorry for myself and mentally took myself out of the race, and we all know that when we are mentally out our physical soon follows.  I went into survival mode and just ran at my LT tempo pace for that back loop as I listen to my mind say “I’m tired … I didn’t run that hill like I had planned … etc.”   With 600 meters to go I got passed again, but I never felt the need to care.  My dad was there, telling me to go with her to get myself back into the race.  But again I ignored him; I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.   As I went around the lake again I could hear the footsteps coming, the college girls were after the high school runner.  One, two, then three runners past me in the last 200 meters, but I didn’t put up much of a fight.  I just wanted to for the race to be over.  I crossed the line and saw my time was 17:30 and again I felt upset and dejected.  Worse yet I realized I wasn’t even all that tired.   17:30 wasn’t the time I was hoping for or what I knew I was in shape to run.  That just wasn’t a good race for me. 
We have noticed that I struggle to deal well with lactate build-up in 5k races and that I end up being inconsistent on my 5k performances.  But I handle things fine in workouts and time trials, so I know I can do it.  To be honest as I went to do my cool-down I was confused and just needed time to think.   As I started to think about it I realized I needed help to process it all.  So I began to pray.  I just talked it all out to God, how I was confused and didn’t understand how I could have raced so well in Virginia Beach and trained so hard in between and then didn’t run what I was capable of today.  How I didn’t know what I should do now, should I stick to longer races or run more shorter races?  I asked God for help, that I needed answers and that more importantly I just needed Him.    As I was talking to Him, something dawned on me, I realized why my race had gone wrong.  I had run selfishly, feeling sorry for myself when things had gone wrong, forgetting about why I race in the first place.  I am not the type of person who is too motivated by places or even necessarily the time I get.  I am motivated by knowing I gave it 100% my best effort, and left it all out there so that I could praise God for giving me this wonderful ability to run fast.  That is why even though people were congratulating me and telling me what an awesome time I had run, I was disappointed in myself, because I know I didn’t give it 100% and that I wasn’t a good steward of my gift out there today.   Instead I got caught up in me and how cool it would be to beat college girls and set records, and so when things started going wrong I had no strong motivation.  I wasn’t being true to who I was and why I race, like I was in Virginia Beach.  At Virginia beach I thought alot about God and how I love Him and was racing to show Him how much I appreciate the gift and opportunities He has given me.    But here in the cross country race, I had just thought of myself and didn’t even think of Him once. 
Well everything in life happens for a reason.  I believe now that this race happened so that I could remember the true reason why I race and love running – to praise God.  And now that I look back, I know what was missing at the beginning of the race as I was standing on the starting line, I didn’t bring my spiritual life.   Lesson learned.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rockin and Rollin in Virginia Beach!

just past 12 miles

Hey, hey, hey everyone!  Hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend.  I know I had a blast!
This weekend was the Rock n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon, and my family went down to spend some time at the beach and for me to race.   This blog title make more sense now doesn’t it. :-p  This was my second half marathon and I was looking forward to having a flat one to run, because in Charlotte there is very little flat spaces to race on.
Anyway, when we arrived at our hotel in Virginia Beach on Friday, Dad and I went out on the boardwalk for a shake-out 30 minute run to get the kinks out after a 6 hour car ride.  During the run we were able to see where the finish line would be and I started feeling really excited!  After the run we went and had dinner at Planet Pizza, which unfortunately was nothing like Pizza Planet on Toy Story (the movie), and that kind of bummed me out.   On Saturday, Dad and I walked down to the expo (it was the first one I have ever been to) and I was in awe.  It was amazing!  There was a red carpet you walked down to get your race number, and as you continued down you got your shirt and swag bag, then it opened up to the expo.  The thing was ginormous with tables, and games and shops everywhere!  As we wandered around I stopped and looked at the shirts with saying on front and read them.  Somewhere “13.1 miles because I’m only half crazy” (ha ha love it!) and there was one that said “This sounded better 3 months ago” (loved that one too).  But my favorite one read “I run like a girl, try and keep up”; how awesome is that one!  Another part of the expo was a video tour of the course, which I enjoyed because I could look for different landmarks to know where I was on the course and what came next.
After the expo, my excitement level went up another notch!  If it went up much higher I might explode!  I just tried to relax the rest of the day and spent a lot of time outside on the balcony watching the ocean, it was very relaxing and I started getting my mind prepared for racing the next day, trying to contain my excitement.  That night my family walked down to church and at the end of mass the priest gave a special blessing to all the people at the mass who were running in the half marathon the next morning.  That just totally made my day, as I walked back I just felt happy, excited and ready for the race.   I had a feeling of confidence around me and was totally ready to race.
Man, I’m telling you 4:15 am comes really early the morning of a race, but with a 7:00 am start that’s when I gotta get up, being a teenager it takes me a while to wake up.  I did a nice shake out jog and started getting everything ready for the race.  Around 6:15 my Dad and I jogged the 1.5 miles down to the starting line as my warm-up.  I started to get ready for my race, mentally and physically and was pumped.  After the wheelchairs and strollers went off I got into my corral got my place in the pack.  As the elite athletes were announced Ryan Hall went down the line giving high-fives.  Part of me wanted to run up and get a high-five, well because it was Ryan Hall!  But I didn’t, I couldn’t afford to get distracted right before the start, I needed to get focused for the long race ahead of me.
Then the elite athletes lined up and we joined them.  The horn went off and the race had started.  I went out and tried to settle in to my pace.  At the first mile, I was feeling great and was in a pack of 5 people.  We were all comfortable and kept motoring right along through mile 2, where I saw Dad there cheering us on.  We continued on our way to mile 3 which was right in front of our hotel, where my Mom, sister, brother, great aunt, and great uncle were there cheering for us.  Right after the 3 mile point was a water stop, so I grabbed a cup of water but never got a sip as all of it splashed out before I could drink. Oh well.  After the water stop we went up the first of only 2 hills on the course.  I charged up the hill and felt great going down, at this point we lost 1 pack member and our pack of 5 became a pack of 4, but we went back into our rhythm and continued down the road.  Before long we passed miles 4 and 5 and I felt really good, which made me happy and confident.  After 5 miles, the other pack members started to pull away to pass a group of 3 runners just ahead of us.  Since I was feeling great I decided to go with them.  As we got closer to the group in front of us and passed the 6 mile point, the two guys in the group took off and passed the group and quickly gapped us.  That left me and the other women, Lyubov Denisova, running next to each other.  The group in front of us also broke apart and the female in the group started dropping back.  I took at moment to take off and try and pass her.  As I took off I passed Lyubov, but I could hear her right behind me.  Around mile 7 I passed the other female and another guy who was just in front of her, and kept on pushing.  I was surprised at how good I felt and just kept watching the guy in front of me and his bright green socks!
As we went down roads, everywhere you looked there was either cheerleaders or bands, it was awesome.  It kept me thinking positively and I not once thought about how tired I felt.  Pretty soon we went into a naval base and ran down the roads there for a while.  Before I knew it mile 8 had passed and I could see mile 9 up ahead.  At that point I was starting to feel tired, but at 9 miles into a half marathon, who wouldn’t.   As we passed the mile point and rounded the corner Lyubov came up beside me and pushed going faster and passing me.  But I didn’t go with her at first, and decided I wanted to keep my pace since I was getting tired, however when she motioned for me to go with her, so I did.  We ran side by side as we passed mile ten, I am glad she had me go with her because I had slowed down 4 seconds that mile without knowing it, our slowest mile of the race, so she saved me from slowing down even more and I thank her for that.  We ran side by side down the road and as we approached the 11 mile point we were heading back and I still felt strong, though  while I was concentrating on not slowing down, in the back of my head I was going crazy with excitement of my race going so well.  After we passed mile 11, I could see the bridge in the horizon that signified the last hill and getting closer to the finish line.  Before I knew it we were at the hill, so I thought to myself “this the last hill and what do I have to lose’ so I took off up the hill.  When I got to the top I was by myself, then the guy in front of me raised his hands up in the air.  I was SO confused until I saw the race photographer , and so as I passed the photographer I was like what the heck, this race is awesome, so I held up a peace sign and smiled for the picture.  As I ran down the street and turned the corner I saw the 12 mile mark and my family.  As I passed the 12 mile point I saw my time was 1:10:something.  I finally dawned on me that I was gonna run in the 1:17’s.  I smiled big and took off as I rounded another corner until I finally saw the boardwalk, that meant .75 miles to go.  Now that I think about it, it sucked having the lasy three-quarters of a mile be one long straightaway.  The whole time I could see the finish line, there mocking me, as if saying come and get me but never seeming to get any closer.  Finally I passed the 13 mile point, I hit the button on my watch to take the split but didn’t look at it, I was totally focused on the finish line.  As I was across the finish line I looked up and saw 1:17:14 on the clock.  I broke out into a huge smile.  I just couldn’t believe I had gotten into the 1:17’s, it was all so surreal, but I loved it.  I had finally showed the world who Alana Hadley is!
Splits: 5:47,5:43,5:50,5:54,5:52,5:49,5:51,5:57,5:58,6:02,6:02,5:58,5:49,:37
11th place overall, first American, pending world and national single age record.
The rest of the day I relaxed, went to the beach, sat outside, had an ice bath, and had milk shake; you know all the things you do after a half marathon.  Around 7:30 Dad and I walked down to the concert stage and listened to the band Tonic, while waiting for the awards.  During the awards they brought me on stage and announced my time and that I had set 15 & under female national record!  I got a bouquet of flowers and autographed picture of Bret Michaels.  Though the best part was shaking hands with Jim Ryun and Frank Shorter, how amazing is that!  Afterwards we listed to Bret and his band sing then headed back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep.
Well after a race like that I definitely am excited to race again.  I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend.
I would like to thank everyone who helped put on the race and made it so awesome.  I really enjoyed by experience in Virginia Beach.  Thanks so much!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Time Trial Success

Hey everyone!  This past Friday I ran a 5k time trial out on the cross country course at McAlpine Park here in Charlotte, NC.  I wanted to see what type of shape I was in after 6 weeks into my new training cycle.  But it was 80 degrees and 85% humidity (75 degree dew point) the morning of my time trial, not exactly the conditions I would want to try and run fast in.    But then I figured, "hey not all races will have perfect conditions either", so I would just give it my best and take whatever it gave me.
My Mom, Dad, little brother and sister all went with me to McAlpine to cheer me on for my time trial.  My Dad rode his bike around and gave me my splits at each kilometer, while Mom, Bryce and Rose wandered around to see me at different points and cheer.  I really appreciated all their support.  It felt different doing my time trial on a Friday because I normally race or time trial on a Saturday.   I wonder if that helped me or not but I know I wasn’t nervous like I normally am before a race.  I felt calm and confident, like I just knew I was going to run good.  It was an awesome feeling, almost super-hero-ish. J
My Dad helped me adjust my expectations for the heat and we decided on a goal pace of about 3:35 per kilometer or a little faster and maybe be 5 seconds quicker on the first kilometer to bank the time I’d probably give back in the 3rd kilometer when you have the big (and only) hill to deal with. ;-)   When I finished my warm-up I was already drenched with sweat, well I guess I should be prepared to get wet on a day like this.
Then I reviewed my plan in my head, got to the starting line, and smiled, this time trial was going to rock!  Then I started;  the first kilometer was good, I felt a little uncomfortable but thought,” it’s a 5k of course I’m going to feel uncomfortable, no big deal.”  I went through in 3:27 – perfect!  The next kilometer was harder but I made sure I kept my foot on the gas and stayed aggressive and went through the second k in 3:28, absolutely perfect, I was ahead of pace!  On the straightaway leading up to the hill I mentally prepared myself to attack the hill.  It was my turn to be the predator and not the prey that the hill can often turn people into.    So I did attack the hill but the following downhill was a little scary, with all the ruts in it, but I still managed to run a 3:38 kilometer for k number 3, not bad with big hill and given the extra few seconds I banked in the first 2k.  Man though, that hill takes a lot out of you, making that 4th kilometer tough.  But I knew I was starting to slow down some, so I pushed as best I could and hit 3:37 for the 4th kilometer.  I was a little discouraged with that splits but then my Dad challenged me to try and a 3:30 last kilometer; I liked that so I took off and pushed it.    My chest felt a little tight from the humidity but I wasn’t going to let anything keep me from getting a 3:30 that last kilometer.   As I ran around the lake and hit the 3 mile point, I took off and tried to sprint in the last 200 meters as best I could, which is very hard to do at the end of a fast 5k.  I pushed all the way until I hit the finish line.  I had run 17:40 for the 5k cross country time trial on a hot muggy Charlotte summer morning.  I was SO happy.  Plus I had run the last kilometer in 3:29, I had met the challenge …. HA!
After that successful time trial I can’t wait to attack my next 6 weeks of training until the Virginia Beach Half Marathon.  And then see what I can do at McAlpine again later in the fall.  But first, Virginia Beach here I come! J

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I Just Love Summer

 Maddy and me

Hey everyone!  I hope you are having an awesome summer like I am.  I have been having a great time but it’s already July, man time fly’s when you are having fun.
This summer I started a new training cycle and now running 11 times a week for a total of 78-80 miles per week.  The humidity is bad, but that is pretty typical for this time of year in the south.  So we are adjusting my training paces for the weather conditions and I continue my training as normal.  Everything is going really well so far, and I’m already on my 5th week of this new cycle.  I’m incredibly happy with how well everything has been going considering the weather.  Definitely my best summer of training ever.  Next week, I am going out to McAlpine Park to run a 5k time trial on cross country course to see where my fitness level is at so far in this new training cycle.  I am really looking forward to that.  It’ll be just me, the trail, and if I am the first person on the course: spiderwebs!  Ha Ha!  It’s okay though, I’ll be moving so fast I won’t even feel it.   Definitely a great summer of running so far!  Go running!
On a different topic, I have also been doing some volunteering this summer.  I have been volunteering at the Speech Garden, which is a speech therapy camp.  My little sister, Rose, is going to the camp, so I decided to go and volunteer and help out.  I am so glad I did that too.  I just have the best time watching and helping the kids.  So far I have been helping out in the younger kids classes.  The kids are just adorable and I always look forward to days when I volunteer.  I have been volunteering 2 days per week and on the other days I miss playing with and seeing all my little friends.  With Rose being 6 and getting ready to turn 7 later this summer, I miss getting to play with younger kids.   I forgot how tiny and cute they are.  I’ll be helping out for another 2 more weeks and know I’ll miss the guys when I’m done volunteering there.
The last week in July and the first week in August are coming up fast.  I am pretty excited about it but can’t say the same for my parents.  During those 2 weeks I’ll be taking Driver Ed.  That right everyone, I’m gonna learn how to drive!  How is that for exciting?!   This going to high school thing just keeps getting better and better. J
Another fun thing I did this summer was meet a talented young runner name Maddy from Austin, TX.  Maddy is running the Jr. Olympics this summer in TX and is doing great.  She has a big meet coming is in New Orleans in a few weeks, that I know she will do great in.  Maddy and her parents were in Charlotte this past week and met with my dad and I to talk about kids and running (my favorite subjects).  We had a great talk with them and enjoyed meeting them.  Maddy and I got to take a walk around and chat while our parents talked, she is just the sweetest girl, I had a great time meeting her.  Good luck in New Orleans Maddy!
Well, I definitely having a great summer this year and hope you are as well.  Now on to high school and that means school supply shopping!  Yay for shopping!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Awesome Adventure In Albany

Joan & I at the School Visitation

Hey everyone, as you may know, I spent June 2nd -5th in Albany, NY, for the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5k.  Going to Albany was an incredible adventure and I had an amazing time there.  I had so many awesome experiences while there that I just had to tell you all about.  The hotel I stayed at was just down the street from the capitol building, which was really cool to look at on walks being it was an older style of building than what I would normally see in Charlotte.  Right across the street from the capital building was an office building park that they held the awards for the race on and some running events for the smaller children.  The park was really cool with a lot of abstract sculptures on it, one even looked like a turtle on stilts, and it was hilarious.  There was also a building in the park that kind of looked like a sideways egg, it was a very cool building to just look at, everyone loved it and it even was on our race t-shirts, which were bright green by the way and all of the words and pictures on it were pink, talk about a fabulous shirt.  I will defiantly wear it for as long as I can, it matches my bedroom so that adds a level of awesomeness to it J. On Friday, I went to Bethlehem Central Middle School, where I had the privilege of talking with some of the students alongside Joan Benoit Samuelson.  Oh my gosh was that special, I was nervous when I had to answer questions because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to focus since I was watching Joan the whole time wondering if it was a dream or not.  I had a blast though, Joan was so nice and is a fun person to hang out with.  I was able to get my picture with her and I think I’m going to print it out and hang it on my wall with all of my running posters so I can always remember that moment forever and ever. 
After that amazing honor I went back to the hotel to go to the press conference for the race.  It was super exciting being there with so many amazing professional female runners.  I sat at a table with some of the master’s women, Joan Samuelson, Carmen Ayala-Troncoso, Lisa Harvey, and Lori Kingsley.  They were all super nice and I enjoyed sitting next to them and chatting.  During the expo George, the director of the race, presented Victoria Michalek, the oldest runner of the race, and I our race numbers.  Our numbers each were our age so my number was 14, how cool is that!  That night for dinner my dad and I ate with Lori and got to know her better, she is a great, friendly person, who is a joy to be around. 

start line less than a minute before the start
The next morning at the race I was trying to decide where to do my warm-up, when Carmen told me of a cool place to run down the street.  As I headed down the street I saw Benita Willis going down as well.  So I was able to do my warm-up where amazing runners do theirs as well, that totally pumped me up.  At the end of the race down the final straight-away I was super tired and was having trouble kicking in.  Lori was right in front of me and saw that I was having trouble so she in courage me to kick in to the finish.  At the end of the race I was a little upset with how my race went, but Lori was right there to cheer me up.  For that I am very grateful, Lori will always be a great friend to me.  After the race my calf was a little tight and sore, so I got a massage therapist to work on my legs, it was awesome. I have never gotten a massage before, so it was really cool.  That afternoon I had lunch with Dulce Rodriguez and even though she didn’t speak a lot of English and I defiantly didn’t speak much, if any, Spanish, she was still great to sit with. She is incredibly nice and it was cool to sit next to a three time Olympian.
The whole time I was there the hotel had breakfast, lunch, and dinner for us.  I enjoyed it because they always had doughnuts and cookies, aw the joy of having the race’s major sponsor being a baking company (Freihofers).  The doughnuts were SOOOO amazing, I brought a box home with me. Yummy!.
 I had an amazing experience while at Albany and I want to thank everyone who was part of the race so much for an amazing time there, everyone was very nice and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.     

Monday, May 30, 2011

What's Going On

(my doggy Jake)

Hey everyone!  I hope everyone has been having a great summer so far.  I just wanted to give you all an update on what has been going on lately around here.

First of all, the recent June issue of Running Times has an amazing article in it written by Jonathan Beverly that I think many of you would like.  It is called "Let The Kids Run", and it has the truth about children and mileage.  You guys should check it out, I really liked it.  Also there is a podcast available on the Running Times website where I describe my weekly training schedule.  Very weird to here my voice on a podcast!

Second, I have to say I am VERY excited.  On Saturday (June 4th) I am going to be racing in the Freihofer's Run for Women 5k in Albany, NY.  I was lucky enough to be invited up to run in it and will be flying up on Thursday.  So it's not very long before we leave!  On Friday I get to take part in their athlete visitation program and go with other invited athletes to talk to kids at local schools about big healthy and living a healthy life style.  That will be so much fun, I can't wait!  My training has been going very well and so I am really looking forward to that race on Saturday as well.  It will be fun to spend the weekend in Albany!

I hope everyone has a great week and hopefully I will have a new blog up next Monday to tell you all about how the weekend went. :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Track 10k - Here I Come

Last Friday afternoon, April 29th, I went to Radford University for a track 10,000 meters race.  I was so excited because this was my first track 10k.  I couldn’t wait to see how fast I could go for 10k when it was on a perfectly flat course (a track).  The ride in the car took over 3 hours and it was horrible because I wanted to get there so badly.  I was so glad when we finally arrived and I could walk around and get out of the car.  My Dad and I went and got me checked into the meet and picked up my number to wear.  I think it’s so cool to be in races that require a hip number, just like in the major track meets I see on TV.
As we waited for time for the 10k to begin, I watched some of the long jump.  It was amazing how far they can jump and how coordinated you have to be in order to do that event.  I would never make it as a long jumper, I don’t have that type of coordination.  But it was very cool to watch. 
When it was time for me to warm-up, I jogged around a big grass field and listened to some new music I had just downloaded to my MP3 player.  Country music always gets me in the mood to race.  Love me some country music. J   Then I did some strides, switched into my racing flats (Mizuno Ronins), and did my drills.  I was starting to get into the “zone”.    As I entered the track my head started to fill up with different things to do during the race to help me and butterflies started to flutter their way across my stomach.  I met the other competitors, then went to the starting line and pushed the nerves aside, it was time to race!  
When the gun went off, I immediately took the lead and tried to get right into pace.  In a 25 lap race its best to try to get comfortable in your pace as quickly as you can.  There was a hard wind against us on the back straightaway and turn but I didn’t think too much of it the first few laps.  I was able to stay right on goal pace for the first 2 miles, but then the effects of the wind started to take hold.  You had to push the pace into the wind to keep from slowing down and then push again with the wind in order to make up any lost time, all of this made hard for me to get into a sustainable rhythm.  I remember my legs hurting more after each straightaway with the wind then they did before it.  I was able to keep the pace from falling off to much but realized that this probably wasn’t the day I would break 36 minutes.  During the last mile I pushed as best I could and practiced not thinking about how tired I was getting but rather concentrating on one lap at a time.  I used little things to help distract me from the fatigue of the race, like the guy on the infield offering cups of water to the runners as we passed by and how annoyed he looked that I never took any (sorry dude but it was only a 10k).  With 600 left I started pushing as hard as I could and on the last turn I gritted my teeth and give it everything I had left.  I came across the finish line in first place in 36:14, a new stadium record.  Not bad for a debut. J

Monday, April 18, 2011

Off To College I Go!

This Sunday night, April 17th, I went up to High Point University to get in a fast 5K on the track.  When we arrived to the campus that afternoon I was taken away by how beautiful the campus was.  As we made our way to the track, I stared out the window the whole time looking at the university campus. 

When we parked at the track and got out I was bursting with excitement about how perfect the day was. When we went into the stands I was amazed by the track it looked awesome and I couldn’t wait to run on it.  My dad and I then went to check in at the tent.  I found out that I was assigned lane 1.  Everything was going perfect.  As we headed back to the stands we ran into Caitlyn, Jordan, and Meagan, I was really happy since I did not know that they would be there.  After talking with them for a little while we saw Jenna and were able to say “Hi”, since she was busy running around doing a great job of running the meet.

We watched some of the races and cheered for the runners.  Then I saw my grandma and gave her a hug.  I was excited to see her and on top of that, it was her birthday.  After talking with her for a while, I went and started my warm up for the race.

I went to final check in and picked up my lane number.  I went onto the track, switched my shoes, and put the number on, as my excitement was building.  I went onto the infield and did my strides and drills as nerves mixed into my excitement.  Then we got lined up, the announcer called us to the line and the gun fired.  We went off and Meagan took the lead getting me off on pace.  The first mile went very smoothly with Megan pacing me, we hit 5:20, right on plan.  I am very grateful to her for driving to High Point to pace me for the first mile.  But soon after I started getting tired as I got deeper into the race.  Laps 8, 9, & 10 were really hard as I struggled not to slow down.  I hit 2 miles in 10:51.  With 600 meters to go I pushed to speed up.  I was 16:28 at 3 miles and then the last 200 meters was really tough, but as I rounded the turn into the final straight away I saw my little sister Rose trying to get on the track, this made me smile and I sprinted with all I had left.  I crossed the line at 17:06, a new PR for me and I got the win.  It was not as fast as I had hoped, but when you give all you got and get a new PR and win, you cannot complain. 

I was given a bouquet of flowers for winning.  I gave them to my grandma, because I got the PR on her birthday.  I was so excited that I got a PR, that I texted a friend as soon as I got to the car.  The meet was amazing and I had a wonderful time.  What an awesome start to Spring Break!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A New PR For Me!

Last Saturday, March 26th, I ran a 5K on the track at Providence Day School in Charlotte, NC.  The Charlotte Running Club (CRC) was trying to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest 100 by 5K relay.  I was lucky enough to run a leg of the relay, because who would not want to break a world record.  When I arrived it was raining and cold, I wasn’t happy about this.  The past 3 weekends had been beautiful, what happened, why did it have to rain this weekend, why not next weekend? As I stepped out of the car I could see the tents set up for timing and hanging out in.  After I said hi to my dad, who had come out earlier to support all of his runners, I went to the press box to keep warm and dry.  I got to chat with Caitlin, Aaron, and John and watch a few of the runners complete their legs of the relay.  Then my dad came up to let me know it was time to warm up.  As I did my warm up, I just kept getting more and more excited.  As I did my drills and got ready to go to the starting line felt pumped.  I was not nervous at all!
Once I grabbed the baton, I took off.  The adrenaline I felt over took me the first lap and ran too fast (74 – Yikes!).  But who wouldn’t be super excited?  After the first lap was able to get back on pace, I enjoyed having people cheering for me every 200 meters as well as Megan, Jordan, and Catlin cheering from the infield.  It really helped me keep going when I would get tired.   About halfway through I started to feel that first lap and started feeling tired.  Mike Kahn was able to help me keep pushing through the pain when he ran across the field with a boom box blasting; the sudden noise scared me and I jumped out of my skin which gave me a jolt to keep going.  As the laps continued to click off, I could feel myself slowing down slightly, so I intentionally pushed harder as the rain kept coming down.  With 600 to go I gave another big push, kicking up water as I when making my butt and back wetter than it already was.  With one lap left I heard the bell and everyone cheering, I sprinted hard to the finish and handed off the baton.  I was so glad I did not drop the baton.  When my dad told me I had gotten a PR, I was ecstatic.  I thought if I could run 17:08 (17:09.1 officially) on an asphalt track by myself and in the pouring rain, just think what I could run on a good day with competition.  They race got me wanting to run a race on the track to see if maybe I could break 17:00 for a 5K in my next race.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My First Half Marathon

(photo by Bill Shires)

Hey everyone, hope you all had an amazing weekend, I certainly did!

This Saturday, March 12th, I ran my first half marathon, the Alston & Bird Corporate Cup Half Marathon in down-town Charlotte.  I was so excited all week in anticipation of the race, I just couldn't wait!  My goal was to try and hold a 6:15 pace, as that is the pace I do my aerobic threshold tempo runs at.  I knew I could handle that pace pretty comfortably for the first 6-8 miles, the last 5-7 miles would be the unkown though.

When the day of the race finally came, I was so ready.  I decided to wear my long sleeve Charlotte Running Club shirt as it a little cold at the beginning of the race.  I had also decided earlier in the week that I would wear my hair in pig-tail braids in honor of Sally Meyerhoff who had passed away last Tuesday in a tragic bike accident.  She also wore her hair like that when she raced.  So after my mom braided my hair I was ready to head to the race.

At the race I did a short warm-up run and some drills and headed to the starting line.  At the start of the race they had group prayer and I thought to myself  "Sally this one is for you".   Then the gun went off and I started on my first half marathon.  The first 3 miles went by pretty quick and were pretty easy as I settled into my pace.  At 3 miles my Dad jumped in and passed me by on his bike and would jump ahead of me a mile or so at time and wait for me to come by so he could cheer.    I felt really good during the first half of the race, as I passed 5 miles in 30:48 and still felt comfortable.  Somwhere between miles 8 and 9 we went up a big hill by Myers Park High School and once I got to the top I could start to feel it.  It was starting to get hard.  But I remembered Sally and a book I recently read ("The Running Dream" by Wenderlin Van Drannen) about a high school runner who lost her lower leg in an accident and started running again with a prostetic leg.  It reminded me how lucky I was to have the opportunity to race like this, so I put my head down and pushed on. 

(photo by Mom)

At 10 miles (61:48) I was still ahead of goal pace and really appreciating all the fan support we were getting on the course.  I was able to push the next mile or two pretty well and then we got to east Moorehead Street and the final 1.5 mile climb back up towards down-town.  My dad had told me to take that section one hill at a time (there are 3 hills with a short break between each) and that is what I did. It seemed like on each hill I saw someone I knew who was cheering for me and that definately helped.   Finally with a half mile to go the hills where done and I turned onto the final straight away.  I could see the crowds cheering the runners on and it definately helped having them there to get me to the finish line.  When I crossed the line I looked at my watch and saw 1:21:15, I was estatic!  That was a 6:12 per mile pace, 3 second per mile better than I had hoped for.  I had won the women's division of the race and beat my goal in my debut at the distance!  This was even better than I had hoped for.  Like I said, I had an amazing weekend!  :o)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Trip To San Diego

This past weekend my Dad and I went to San Diego for me to run in the USATF National XC Championship.  We left Thursday and came back home on Sunday.  It was definately a crazy 4 days!

Thursday didn't start out as planned.  We were going to fly from Charlotte to Houston and then from Houston to San Diego.  However in the middle of the night before we left, our flight from Houston to San Diego got cancelled.  Luckily my Dad happened to be awake and was able to get us booked on a later flight, but we'd have a 6 hour lay-over instead of 2 hours.  Things hadn't started out as planned but we made the best of it including watching Princess Bride on his computer in the airport terminal to help pass the time.

We finally made it to San Diego and got checked into our hotel by 9:00 PM west coast time.  Not long after we checked in it was lights out and off to sleep, we were both exhausted from the day of travel.

On Friday, my dad and I got to pick up my race packet and t-shirt in the morning and then around 11:30 we went next door to the course and I was able to run it a few times (it was a 2k loop) to see how I liked it.  The loop was all grass, flat the first 1k and rolling the second kilometer.  I really liked it and was excited about the race the next day.

Later in the afternoon, around 2:00, dad and I met with Jonathan Beverly the Editor-In-Chief at Running Times.  Mr Beverly is currently writing a story on kids and running mileage and was very nice to ask to for our input.  He was very nice our conversation was fun.   Afterwards Dad and I hung around the room until dinner time then went to Subway to eat.  At 7:00 we went to the technical meeting and got the low-down on the race.

The next morning was finally the day of the race, pretty exciting!  When I woke up I jogged the 2k course once as a shake-out jog to get the blood pumping (not that that was a problem).  We relaxed in our rooms the rest of the morning watching the women's master race on the internet and saw Colleen De Reuck dominate the rest of the field.  Once the masters men's race started we headed over to the race.  At the race we watched the remainder of the race and cheered for Jonathan as he came by each time (it was a 4 lap race).  After the Masters race, my dad and I bumped into David and Jane Monti, from Race Results weekly and NYRR, how we had met this past summer when they brought me up to run in the NYRR's Women's Mini 10k.  It was awesome to see them again and they were sweet as always. 

About 30 minutes before my race started I started my warm-up jog and started getting excited.  After the jog I did my high-knee and butt-kick drills and changed into my racing flats.  Then I went into the starting area and did a few strides on the starting straightaway.  After wishing me luck and helping me find spoton the line, Dad headed down the straightaway to find a good stop to cheer from.  The announcer started to get us all ready to go then we had a delay because  the TV channel covering the race had to go to commercial.  Then as we got ready again we had another delay when one of the competitors realized she forgot to put on her timing chips. 

As we kept having delays I started thinking about the teams around me and my comeptitors and started to feel intimidated, which is not what I wanted to have happen.  Then the gun went off and I didn't get out fast enough and got caught in back of the pack.  The rest of the first lap of the race I felt good and was moving up places pretty consistently.  The second lap I started to get tired and wasn't passing people as often and by the half way point I was starting to feel pretty tired and discouraged.  I wasn't where I thought I would be at this point.  At the beginning of the 3rd lap I should have started pushing and gotten agressive as was my plan, however I didn't, I was behind and tired and just went into tempo run mode.  I never put myself into the race for the top like I know I was in shape to do, so once it got hard I just wasn't motivated to push it in.   I stayed at tempo pace until 100 meters to go then sprinted it in to hold off a few girls, but that was a little to late to change gears.  Once I finished I was very disappointed in myself.  I had blown a great opportunity to show everyone who I was.  My finishing time was 23:11 and I had finished 19th.  That time is equivalent to a slow tempo workout for me so I was sad with how I had performed.

I stayed after my event to watch open women's and men's races, which was awesome.  I cheered for Shalane F, Molly H, Lisa K, Magda, and Kara G. during their race.  I was incredibly impressed by the dominance Shalane showed the rest of the field during her race, to win the championship.  During the Men's race my dad and I cheered for Abdi the whole race and were very impressed by Brent V when he broke away from the large pack and won the race.  Also while watching the men's race I had the privilidge to meet the 2010 Foot Locker Champ Aisling Cuffe (who also won the race I was in).  She was super nice and was great to meet her.

Afer the races were over my dad and I headed back to the hotel.  On the way back we bumped into Greg McMillan and my dad introduced me to him.  My dad had recently met Greg at the Super Distance Summit that Coach Simmons at Queens Univserity put on in Charlotte in January.  Mr. McMillan was very nice and my dad tells me he is a very good coach as well.

Back at the hotel I had some thinking to do.  I needed to down load my thoughts from the race and learn what I could from them.  Dad was great in helping me do this.  We spent alot of time talking and coming up with a game plan to help me be more consistent in my races.  After our talk I was excited about our plans and feeling better about everything.  Even though the race didn't go as I would have like it to go, what was done was done, and all I could do now was learn what I could from it. 

Now that my trip is done it was time to go home the next morning.  Our flights went smoothly for the most part and we got home about when we had planned.  Just in time for bed and to ready for another week at school and my regular routine.  Report cards come out this week!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Time Trial Success

Dad calling splits during my time trial

Hey everyone!  I have decided to start a blog to keep everybody (who is interested) up to date on what's going on in my life.  This is the first time I have ever written a blog, so lets see how it goes - hopefully it goes well!  :)

Today (Jan 15th), I planned on running a 5k time trial on the cross country course at McAlpine Park to prepare for the 2011 USATF Jr. XC Championships in San Diego in three weeks from today.  However, the weather had a different idea.  Thanks to my running friends, my dad and I learned that the snow that fell on Monday hadn't melted yet at McAlpine and most of the trail was covered in snow and ice still.  Now, I didn't feel like falling on my butt during my time trial, so my dad and I had to change plans.  We decided to move my time trial to Community House Middle School track.

I went to the track late morning with my mom and dad.  I did my 6 lap warm-up with strides, switched into my super fast shoes (racing flats), then did my drills.  I took off my sweats and we all walked over to the 200 meter point, where I would start.  After sharing high 5's with my parents, I got focused on the task at hand.

I lined up at the starting line and waited.  My dad did the 3 command start, "runners to your mark, set, GO!", then I was off.  There was a headwind on the finishing straightaway and a then it was at my back on the starting straightaway.  So I had to push on the finishing straightaway so I wouldn't slow down and then I would pick-up speed on the starting straightaway.

The first 7 laps I felt comfortable running and was on pace.  My splits were 78.0, 82.1,83.2,83.1,83.1,83.4 and 83.3 seconds.  Then it started getting harder and I slowed down to 84.6 and 85.2 on laps 8 ad 9.  I was really starting to hurt now but was determined not to let my pace keep slowing, so I pushed and ran 84.7 and 85.4 for laps 10 and 11.  That's when my dad said, "600 left, you can do it!"  So, I started picking up speed, pushing to go faster, as I came upon one lap to go, my mom "rang" the imaginaary bell to signal one lap left and I kept repeating "one lap left" in my head.  I ran 83.0 seconds for the 12th lap.

That's when I took off, I only had 200 meters left.  As I rounded the turn, I changed gears and tried my best to sprint to the finish line (it's pretty hard to sprint at the end of a time trial).  I ran the last 200 meters in 38.7 seconds.  As I crossed the I looked at my watch and saw 17:18.2.   I was thrilled and tired at the same time.  My time trial had turned out to be a big success! :)  Now on to San Diego!

Well, I hope you liked my first blog.  I will try and one or two every month to keep everyone updated on what I am up to.  Bye for now!