|Desperately needing a haircut here...|
Since Christmas, we've had indoor season, which is loads of fun. Maybe the novelty will wear off eventually, but I hope not. This season was extra-exciting because we found a blue track of 200m in distance with banks to run on! Last year was something of an eye-opener for me finding out there were other sorts of indoor tracks... This one was really cool though, it's a travelling track; they just build it in the sports hall and then go somewhere else with it next week! There was a great big gap between the track and the infield on the home straight, which might be why I look so concerned in the pictures, I was worried about falling off the track (it was raised quite a bit off the ground!).
|My face trying to work out lap splits on the move|
We don't do much indoor track, which is sad, I prefer it to outdoor. Here is another track, this one is flat and not blue....crazy stuff. This year for the first time ever our conference had an indoor championship, so here I am running the championship 3k, looking at the clock and wondering why I'm going so slowly- this one wasn't a great race. I blame the track, I ran well on the blue one. This indoor conference meet was a fateful day. For some reason they didn't have a 5k, which was a pain because nearly half our squad run the 5k, but there was a meet starting pretty much directly afterwards which began with a 5k so we stayed around to run that, and I ended up running in that race as well. I did 9.50 in the 3000 and 17.29 in the 5000, neither of which were amazing times (I wasn't really racing racing either race), but together convinced Coach I should run the 10k outdoors...... lucky meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Probably as a result of that though, I won both conference runner of the season, and South Region runner of the season. A little bizarrely, the coach from Brenau (one of the teams in our conference) put in the bid for me to be conference MVP; he said it was important to see quality distance running being recognised as much as the sprints, which usually win track awards because sprinters tend to do multiple events- it was very, very kind of him, I definitely wasn't expecting to be getting whole-meet awards (so much so that I hadn't even kept my SCAD gear on and so look like a ridiculous artist, not an athlete in the photos), and the South Region honours were an even bigger surprise.
But before outdoor season, we had indoor nationals! And my Hoddie came to see me! This indoor season was a little frustrating, the NAIA does this very annoying thing where it adds huge amounts (9 seconds for a 5k!) onto your time if you run on certain kinds of tracks, making it quite a bit harder to qualify for nationals, so I ended up being the only one of us to qualify, so it was just me, Yin and Coach in Kansas, but it was a fun trip anyway. They really need to get rid of that added-time rule, the quality in the distance events was generally much lower; only the men's mile and the women's 5k even had prelims, compared to last year when every event had heats to qualify for the finals.
Kansas is a cool place. We flew into Kansas City, which weirdly enough is actually in Missouri, and then drove for nearly two hours to get to Pittsburg, and in that whole two hours we saw one single town. Kansas is EMPTY! And so, so flat. As the aeroplane was landing the sun was setting and the ground was so flat the sun looked like it really was falling below the horizon- it was pretty cool. Hoddie drove through the 'city' of Everton, population about 300. He said it was like a place time forgot. Pittsburg, where the race was, was another strange place. A small town in the middle of absolutely nowhere, with a uni with a massive collection of amazing sports facilities! Pittsburg looks like an old cowboy town, with the high-fronted buildings with flat roofs and awnings. Pittsburg State (the uni) has a gorilla as its mascot, and there are statues of gorillas all over town. Dad said there were gorillas all over town and I thought he was being rude about field event people, but it turned out he literally meant big gorillas.
I was a bit worried about my race, because I hadn't been feeling all that great in training and had sore shins and things and wasn't convinced I'd run well, and that caused stress because who wants to go all the way to Kansas as the sole representative of their school just to run badly- that'd suck! The facility at Gorilla Nation was really cool, it was a beautiful 300m track, so the 3k divided neatly into 10 laps. Coach had told me to look for about 58 second laps to be on pace for a good pb, but I very quickly completely lost track of laps and times and everything, I was just trying to hang onto Aminat, the ridiculously fast girl from Oklahoma City. Finishing the race I was really upset because I was convinced we'd slowed down a lot and I was wondering why it hurt so much to be running slowly and why I was running a rubbish time and still not even winning....but I didn't do a rubbish time! 9.38! My first ever Grade One! I didn't find out about that for about five minutes after the race when Coach told me, and I didn't really believe him- I was convinced I'd done maybe 9.50-something, and I still don't really believe it, but apparently it happened!
|Desperate fan girl face. I've never hugged someone that fast before!|
Nationals was really cool because the post-season is the only time I get to meet the really awesome people I stalk on results pages and college track websites all season... like this girl! This is Anna Shields, who will probably be in the Olympics at some point soon. She ran the 1000 and the mile, and won both very easily, but her mile was incredible. My pb in the 1500 is 4.34; not amazing but not exactly slow. She runs a whole 109m further than that in 4.37, and she ran that entirely by herself. She blitzed the field. She made the girl who kicked my arse in the 3000 (a girl who has 9.33 3k and 16.24 5k pbs and who had never been beaten until that point) look very slow.... and she came to say hi to me! Dad got a whole series of pictures of me looking hugely star-struck. She's got to be the coolest person I've ever met.
|Me, trying to ignore the problem of imminent squashing by team FSU|
And now we are doing outdoor track! We're about two weeks into the season, and it's already been a rocky one. My first race was at Georgia Tech, and they could win prizes for having possibly the ugliest track ever. It's not so bad at night, but during the day the pale yellow reflects the sun and gives you a headache, and it really needs to be resurfaced. The craziest thing about this race was the number of people in it though. 47 of us! They had to do that thing where they waterfall half the field off in lanes 4-8 and make them run around the bend, and we were still squished in three deep! And lucky me got lane 1, so I had to get out quick or get squashed. Obviously I was going to try for sub-17 (about time, right), so I was aiming for 80-second laps. There were a few girls in the race who I knew had run 16-somethings so I was hoping for some company up front, but that didn't happen. A solo effort resulted in 16.54, which I can't be hugely unhappy with, but I still KNOW I am faster, but trying to endlessly pb by myself is really hard work.
Pretty sure 5k is my least favourite track race anyway. This past weekend I was supposed to be doing the 10k. I started the 10k, I did not finish it. I'm really upset, it's been quite a long time since I didn't finish a race and no matter how terrible I felt at the time it still feels like a failure, and worst of all I wasn't even running badly, but I was going to be sick all over the track... It's easy to second-guess yourself afterwards. Either way, 10k is a tough race. I ran 8k feeling awful, and that's further than I've ever done on a track before, and I still had a way to go.......but I'm going to do it again in a few weeks!!!!!!!!!! Watch this space.
|Aren't they beautiful?|
In other news, you might have noticed in all these photos I'm wearing the same shoes. These things are properly, properly cool. They're made by a company called On, and they are the best shoes I've ever raced in. Much, much more comfortable and supportive than a pair of spikes. And they look amazing. This model, the Cloudflash is designed for maximum performance on harder man-made surfaces (roads, ideally), so they were really good for indoor where the tracks aren't usually covered in normal squishy track stuff. I've now got a pair of Cloud Xs as well, for my longer 10k adventures and I love them. Nigel at the Runner's Hub has some of them at home, and I'd definitely recommend their performance models- I'm not sure I'd do much training in them, they're fairly pricey and I imagine they'd wear down quite quickly, but they are wonderful for races. I feel like I'm becoming a terrible running nerd... a few years ago I just ran in the cheapest whatever I pulled off the discount shelf in the Nike outlet, and now I have Hokas and Ons and nearly bought another pair of race shoes from a brand called Altra- all these shoes I feel like nobody's ever heard of! Every time I come back here I try not to bring many shoes because they weigh a lot in the suitcase, and now I have about two pairs of normal shoes, one pair of boots and a cupboard full of all these weird trainers!