Saturday, October 29, 2011
After taking a short trip out west to visit my family, I found myself heading straight from the tarmac to the track. Traveling is never easy for anyone. Its tiring and time consuming, and the last thing you want to do after stepping off a plane is a workout. Well, that's exactly what I did, and not just any workout, but the hardest workout of the week.
As I got to the track I wasn't 100% sure if in fact I would be doing the regular workout, or an abbreviated one to take into consideration me flying in just that morning. I went on my long run just like any other day, and as I trucked through I could feel the effects of the days travel on my legs. I was stiff, tired and not mentally ready to do any kind of workout.
Once I get back to the track I see that my training partners have started the workout. I cheer them along as I work through my warm up. Not till I'm done with my drill do I know my fate for the day. I tell my coaches how I feel, having not much changed from my long run I though for sure I would be given a nice "flush" workout. I feel like they are speaking in slow mow as the pyramid workout is spouted out to me. I feel my face drop, and my eyes fill with disbelief. I get a reassurance from my coaches that 'the days you feel the worst are some of your best training days'. At this moment it's really hard to believe.
I join the guys on their last set, which ignited a fire within. My first few steps were a struggle, but as I finally got my pace I couldn't feel any of the stiffness or soreness anymore. As I cross the halfway point I'm still in the mix with the boys. I get excited, but I stay calm and keep my form. We round the corner to the home stretch and I've got one boy in my grasp. With one small move I take him over with 10 meters left. As the coaches announce the times I look up with puzzlement and disbelief. From what I hear, I just ran a 5 second personal best. That can't be right, I ask again....I heard CORRECT.
At this point I'm extremely excited, but also very concerned. I've only ran one rep of the pyramid and there are still 5 more reps to run, I may have blown it out a little to early. I try to stay positive during the rest and keep moving so lactic doesn't build up as bad.
The next two runs are a bit easier, as the distances decrease. The last three get farther as I work my way back up the pyramid, and I've got those in the back of my mind. I maintain my form through the shorter distances, and focus on keeping my pace through all the runs. I can feel my legs getting heavier and heavier with every step. I'm both mentally and physically tired and I just want this to be over. The key to a successful pyramid workout is maintaining your pace throughout all the runs, no matter how long or how short. Keep your pace, keep your form. My first run was a 5 second personal best, so now coming into my last run my goal is to run that or better. Talk about a big task for heavy legs. 5 hours of travel, 5 runs into the legs and it all comes down to this last run. Up till now the runs have been good, but they have definitely been getting harder. As I walk up to the line and wait for the countdown all I can think about is how tired I am.
*3, 2, 1...GO!*
I have to dig deep for this last one. I run the first 30 meters as hard as I possibly can. My legs feel like bricks, but I don't let that get to me. I focus on my form and just tell myself to focus on pace, no matter what I feel, focus on pace.
My training partners cheer me on as I cross the halfway point. I hear them clear as day, and I feel a rush. I feel no more pain, I feel unstoppable. I run tall and relaxed, and make a move for the last half of the run. As I come off the bend for the last hundred meters I know my body is getting heavier and heavier, but I don't let it get to me. I pump my arms, and lift my knees, and that's all I think about.
I cross the finish line and I hear nothing. I see a smile, but I don't hear anything.
My coach walks over to me and asks me 'what's your personal best'. I struggle to answer between gasps, but I eventually get it out. He smiles and suggest that 'maybe everyday you should come in straight off a plane'.
Running two personal bests after jumping off a plane.........not too bad :-)
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Base does set you up for a good season. However, if you dog base, you might as well pack it up now and save yourself the pain. The harder you work now, the easier winning will be in the summer.
Every base starts with a long run. I'm not sure how long it is, but it can take as little at 6 minutes for some to do, and as much as 15 for others. Last year the long run felt like a workout in itself to me. Everyone else seemed to be able to do it with ease and at a pace like no other. I, on the other hand use to struggle with each step and pray for it to be over. Coming into base this year I knew about the long run, and there was no way I was going to let it own me again. By running a few 'pre-base' over distance long runs while I was off, I felt more mentally prepared for what was in store.
I'm happy to say, it worked. Day one of the long run was a breeze! The over distance long runs made it feel like it was a short sprint.
I've been back to base training for a couple weeks now, and in comparison to last year I'm feeling a lot better. I've been working on my mental strength and focus, and I think that has been helping me a lot. My older brother, Onome, gave me a book for Christmas two years ago, and that has become my new Bible (well actually second to my actual Bible). Every day I read it and take notes, then actually apply what I've read to my workouts. Its funny how much easy things got once I had the confidence and mental preparation going into a workout.
So far everything has been going amazing. I've had one or two days where I felt like I got beat with a bag of wet towels, but on the whole, I'm on a roll. I know that as long as I keep my mind and my body healthy this year, there will be no stopping me!
Monday, August 15, 2011
After nationals I competed in the National Track League (NTL) circuit across Canada. Five stops in five cities across the country over 15 days. First stop, Edmonton.
Edmonton International Track Classic- June 29th, 2011
Just a couple days after nations the NTL was to kick off in Edmonton. I say 'was' because things didn't exactly go as planned. For two days before the meet the weather was perfect, the sun was shinning, it was hot and just a slight breeze was present. Practice the day before was perfect, and my persistent knee injury had basically disappeared. Come race day it was the same, I checked my phone for what the weather was suppose to be like and it shared a different story. From 6 till 9 thunder storms were in the forecast. It was hard to believe considering how beautiful it looked outside. I packed my rain gear none the less and headed to the track. Almost like clockwork, the rain came down. At 530 you could see and hear the storm in the distance. With the first strike of lightening the meet was postponed 30 minutes. Then with the second, then the third strike and the down pour of rain the unthinkable happened and the meet was called off. So much for a start to the NTL, next stop Vancouver.
Harry Jerome International Track Classic - July 1st, 2011
Third time is a charm, that being, this is year was my third time trying to get into this meet and finally I got in!! Harry Jerome is always a very competitive meet and the perfect place to run well. The track is beautiful, the competition is fierce and after the elongated rest from not running in Edmonton, the perfect place to race. After nationals I was still a little down, but in Vancouver I was feeling a little bit better. I drew lane one, which isn't always favorable, but it was perfect for me. Throughout the warm up my body and my mind were feeling good. The field was stacked, but I knew what I needed to do. This races was no ones but my own, no matter where I finished or what I ran I was "gonna do me" (as they say). I ran relaxed and calm, aggressive off the start, calm down the back. Others made their moves, but I kept to my own. Coming home I wasn't tired, I just pumped my arms and brought it home. I finished 5th, but the place didn't matter, the feeling is what mattered. I had gotten my confidence back, I knew I could do it still. I definitely had somethings to work on, but I lived to race another day. Next stop, Victoria.
Victoria International Track Classic - July 3, 2011
Victoria is probably one of the most beautiful parts of Canada, I swear. I was in Victoria in 2004 for Nationals, but I definitely didn't remember how beautiful it was. After taking the ferry over from Vancouver I settled into residence at the University of Victoria and prepared for my next race. I didn't go to the track, but I took a nice long walk to get the blood flowing. The focus for travel day was to rest and get ready to run. I was still feeling pretty good from the Harry Jerome meet so I was hoping to carry that over. Once again my warm up felt great, but something was different. Not in my body, but in my mind, my focus wasn't there. It was like my blinders were taken off and everything around me was flooding in. People were talking to me, I was talking to people. My warm up was flowing, but not with the same aggression and focus as two days prior. My race started off with a false start. My first start was great, hard and powerful and lots of drive. Once we got called back I tried to regroup myself. I figured the starter would give us 2 or 3 minutes to get ready, I figured wrong. As soon as the last girl made her way back, it was on to the races (pun very much intended). This race was very different from the last. I ran my own race, but it was all wrong. There was no attack, no aggression, it was flat and mundane. I made no moves anywhere, I just ran, nothing special, just one kinda fast pace all the way around. I finished fourth, kind of close to the time in Vancouver, but ran very wrong.
I headed back to Toronto for 3 days before starting the latter half of the circuit. This gave me a chance to talk to my coaches about the races thus far. We figured what I did good, and what I would change for the next couple races.
The NTL had two more meets on the schedule, Halifax then back to Toronto. Before those though, I made a little detour. There is a new world class facility in Moncton, from World Junior Championships in 2010. So before heading to Halifax we decided to go to Moncton first to squeeze in a race and put down a good time on the super fast track.
Moncton Hub City Classic - July 8th, 2011
All things with standing, Moncton's track was by far the best track I stepped on all season long. With that being said, things in Moncton did not exactly go as planned. Originally a couple of the other girls from the 4 x 400m relay were slated to come to Moncton as well and run an open 400. I guess that memo got lost as some point, and I was the only one who showed up. When one door closes, another door opens. My open door was an opportunity to rabbit an 800m race, and have hilarity ensued. Where to start....
I guess first off, when rabbiting a race the key it to get to the front then bring the runners through the first 400 in a set time. Set time for this race was 58 seconds for the first 400, got it. Secondly, I would probably be best if the rabbit did not false start at the beginning of the race, alrighty then.
Its probably been 5 or 6 years since I've had to do a standing start, so the start for this 800 felt very strange. On the starters command I came up to the line with great excitement, maybe too much excitement. As the starter waited for everyone to settle, I could feel myself falling over, and I couldn't stop it. I tried to clench my core to stop me from falling, but it was a futile attempt. I raised my hand, and everyone was called back. I couldn't help by laugh, great job Ese, way to almost false start. We try again, and this time with success. I take off at the sound of the gun, and as I do I attempt to hit the watch on my hand to help me with the pace. I hit once, I hit twice, I hit three times and miss each time! The whole while, the field of 800 meter runners get away from me. This rabbiting job is harder then I thought. I take off to catch up, and now I have to pass them. Coming off the curve everyone starts to cut in, and at this point I should be at the front. As the waterfall of girls cuts down to lane 1 its clear I am not in front. 'Oh Sh*t' is all I can think. I kick it up a notch, and haul ass to the front. Coming up to the first 200 I'm finally in the right spot, and now all I gotta do is bring it home, I settle into a pace which I think is right on. I look over my shoulder to make sure the girls are right there....and they are not. As I come down the home stretch I slow down the pace and hope that the girls catch up. As I cross the finish I step off the track and let them finish what I tried to start. Rabbiting was definitely harder then I thought it was gonna be, but in the end it was pretty fun, and everyone got a good laugh. On to Halifax.
Aileen Meagher International Track Classic - July 10th, 2011
After an entertaining stop in Moncton it was time to refocus and get back to business in Halifax. Last year I tried to get into the Aileen Meagher meet but they told me I wasn't 'fast enough', so it definitely felt nice to be invited this year. It was time to try and implement some of the things discussed on the break with my coaches and hope it pays off. Aggression was gonna be key to my race. So far my races have been passive and too comfortable. It was time to flip the table on my comfort zone and go after it. For this meet I stayed with some of the members of the 4 x 400m relay team. It was nice to get to know the other girls and talk to them and pick their brains about the 400, the relay and just life in general. It was refreshing to know that we are all basically in the same boat and all fighting and going after the same thing.
The race tactics for Halifax were to be more aggressive and not let anyone get away from me. I had mentally prepared to be in a lesser lane again, and I was ready to put my plan to action. Things have a way of not going as planned for me, instead of an inside lower lane, I was all the way in lane 6, the last possible lane. I wasn't prepared for this, but I tried to stay calm and stick to the plan. As I set my blocks all I that ran through my head was, 'don't let them go'. The gun went off and I took off hard, I powered through the first corner and came up tall on the back straight. I could hear someone coming up on me so I shifted another gear and tried to pull away. Coming into the second curve I knew I was moving, I was flying! Then something went horribly wrong.
I went from full sprint, to petty jog in no more then three strides. I hit the worst wall I've ever hit in my whole life. This wall was like no other. I couldn't lift my knees up if my life depended on it. I came off the corner and the last hundred meters looked like it went on for an eternity. I could hear everyone yelling crystal clear. My team mates tried to give me encouragement, but nothing was helping. Nothing would move, not my legs, not my arms, nothing. Slowly but surely I made it across the line in my slowest time in two years.
Most people would be incredibly discouraged after a run like that, and I definitely was. I wanted to throw something, I wanted to quit, I wanted to cry. There was so much going through my head I thought it was going to explode. As I tried to cool down my team mate approached me and told me what I did was brave. There was absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, I went for it and now all I have to do is learn from what I did.
That silver lining is always there, sometimes its hard to find, but its there.
Last stop, Toronto.
Toronto International Track and Field Games - July 13, 2011
By the time the last meet in the circuit rolls around I feel like my legs are going to fall off. I've ran so many races in the last couple weeks its getting ridiculous. For most of my team mates this is a big one, its at home and all their families are coming to watch. Not so much for me, but I'm still happy to be back in my bed. After Halifax my mood is so-so. I know the positives that came from the race, but it's still hard to swallow and forget all the negative. The fear of dying at the end of the race is still fresh, and I don't want it to happen again.
As I warm up I feel as though I'm just going through the motions at this point. Nothing feels sore or hurt, but I surely don't feel like a spring chicken. My race plan is still the same as it was in Halifax, just this time I'm going to control the back stretch a little better. As they walk us out I hear a couple friends in the stands yell my name which puts a little smile on my face. I set my blocks and it down to business. This is the last one I tell myself, just follow the plan and I'll be straight. Attack, stay calm and go.
After one practice start the official calls us in and its time to go. I feel okay, not great, but I know its almost over. One last race. Two very familiar commands, then the gun goes off. I feel myself react, just not as powerful as I would like it to be. I drive, but not as far as I should. I come off the corner and I'm in the mix, but I'd like to be closer. I stay calm and relaxed down the back and prepare to go again in the last 200. I pressed the button and nothing happens. I flick the switch and the light doesn't go on. I tell myself go, and I just stay the same. My legs have nothing left. I feel so flat. I want to go, I want to kick again but nothing happens.
In The End
When I first heard I would be competing in the NTL I pictured it playing out a lot different in my head. I pictured glory and success. I pictured runner personal bests every time I stepped on the track. I pictured autographs, pictures and flowers. In the end, the picture was a whole lot different.
After the last meet I was thoroughly disappointed in myself. I felt like every time I ran I just got worse and worse. I was embarrassed and felt like I just let everyone down. Funny how your emotions work sometime eh.
After settling down and putting some real perspective into what I had just done, I realized I may need to be a just a little easier on myself.
Between June 24th and July 13th I had ran 7 races. 7 races in 20 days, and some of those with only one days rest in between. Then throwing in traveling, (coast to coast), little to no treatment, jet lag, eating out...lets just say the conditions were not ideal, but I survived. I'm not making excuses, but when you put it all together, I guess I did ok :-)
This time last year I had only really raced the 400 twelve times...in my life. I'm still pretty new to this, so the circuit was a great experience. I have a lot of learning to do, so even though this picture didn't turn out the way I wanted it to, I still ended up with a pretty sweet print.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Everything doesn’t always go the way you plan, things happen. I was suppose to come in an under dog and come out a contender. It was suppose to be my time to put it all out there.
The practices before my heat felt good, my knee was bothering me, but I told myself it would be fine by race day. Race day came and the pain had not gone away. Throughout my warm up I felt the pain which had been plaguing me for the past two weeks. I tried to put it behind me and not let it get in my way. Clouds filled the sky as I warmed up, rain began to fall and the temperature dropped. I continued to warm up and tried to not let anything, or anyone phase me. As I see my competitors warm up the ever so famous butterflies show up in my stomach. My head begins to fill with doubt, I know these girls are faster, and I get scared. I try to keep my head up but the nerves are taking over. As much as I try to stay positive, bouts of negative stream through my head.
The sky begins to clear, its time to check in to the warm up tent. As I sit there I try to put on my brave face, but my nerves are obvious to everyone around me.
It doesn’t go as planned, I didn’t put it all out there, I had not come out a contender. When my heat was all said and done, I had run my slowest time of the year. Nothing clicked, it had all gone wrong. My nerves had gotten the best of me. My blocks weren’t right, my race plan wasn’t right, my mind wasn’t right. I wasn’t the confident strong Ese who had been training for this moment for the last eight months. When it was all over, I wasn’t tired, I wasn’t sore, nothing hurt…physically. As the second heat finished it was clear, I wasn’t in the final. 9th place.
At no point did I ever think I wasn’t going to make the final, that thought had never crossed my mind. 9th place. It hurt so much, it made me numb. I was in such disbelief, it almost felt like it didn’t really happen.
Old me would have cried. Old me would have hid. Old me would have wanted to quit right there and then. New me is better than that.
This wasn’t the end, this wasn’t a failure, it was a life lesson. My performance at nationals left the most bitter taste in my mouth, a taste I will never forget.
Friday, June 10, 2011
With only two weeks until nationals it’s time to put into play what I’ve been practicing. I’ve got two raced under my belt, both of which were run very differently. I’m still in the process of learning how exactly to run the 400, but I feel like I’m slowly starting to get it. In watching some of my races from last year around this time, I look like a completely different person. I spend quite a bit of time watching not only my film, but also videos of people who are where I want to be. When I watch others run they make it look so effortless and easy…when I run it, not so much. I know once I learn how to run like them, my times will drop like hot cakes. I’ve already taken off two seconds from my personal best, and I know more is in the tank. I have yet to feel tired at the end of a race, I just gotta go out there and leave it all on the track.
This weekend is my last meet before nationals. I’m currently ranked 4th in the 400m and in order for anything else to happen this summer, I need to finish in the top 3 at nationals. The girls ahead of my are running fast, so the only thing I need to do now is run faster.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Monday, May 2, 2011
The roar was deafening, my breathing was drowned out by the screaming fans, I could feel the crowd inside of my chest. As I came down the back stretch, I couldn’t feel anything or think anything. I felt myself smile, I felt a sense of disbelief. How did I get here?
Penn Relays is the biggest track meet in North America. As I walked into the stadium I felt like a gladiator. I looked up into the stands and saw 48,000 track fanatics that blurred into one big mass. The training had paid off, just one year earlier I was watching this meet fantasizing about being here one day. That day came.
From head to toe, inside and out I was donning the maple leaf, I felt and looked like I belonged here. Everywhere I looked I saw people who I once idolized and watched run on TV. They were people just like me, they were excited just like me, and some were even nervous just like me. Alison Felix, Sanya Richards, Debbie Dunn, all women I looked up to, I was now warming up with side by side.
I warmed up and went through the motions just like any other meet, but this time I felt like I was watching from outside. I felt fast and ready to go, my body was ready, but was my mind?
“Woman’s four by four relay please marshal in”. My heart began to race, it felt like a hummingbird was residing in my chest. “Play it cool Ese, you can do this” As they pulled us out onto the track I knew it was time. This was the real thing. As I stand and against the wall I tell myself I’m ready and its time to go.
Bang! goes the gun. Our first running takes off, she sets us up well. I feel like I’m watching on TV again, but instead I’m right there. The race unfolds in front of me, I see each exchange with great detail. I see our second running get bumped as she comes in, the baton crosses another runner and I panic. The pass gets off and as the third runner makes the first turn they line us up. Anchor leg, the position people remember, the leg the brings it home for the team. Third runner comes around the corner and I wave her down. We make eye contact and I giver her a re-assuring nod to let her know I’m there and she is doing a good job. As she comes in, I tune into her pace, I tell my self to block out everything around me and focus on her. As a reach out for the baton, something goes wrong, I don’t have it. I reach again, what’s happening! What are you doing Ese, grab the baton, don’t mess this up! I slow down to basically a stop and grab the baton, this isn’t good, how could this happen. This was no time to panic, once I finally got the baton I had a job to do. The first 100 meters is a blur, I know I took off and I also know there was some one right behind me, I couldn’t let her pass. I pushed out to the outside of the curve, if she wanted to pass, she would have to work for it. The came the back straight. As I came off the corner it was like I ran into a totally different world.
The roar was deafening, my breathing was drowned out by the screaming fans, I could feel the crowd inside of my chest. As I came down the back stretch, I couldn’t feel anything or think anything. I felt myself smile, I felt a sense of disbelief. It felt like I wasn’t running at all, but rather floating. With 150 meters left to go I started to pump my arms and give it all I had left. Fatigue never set in, instead excitement took over. I crossed the line with plenty left in the tank.
Even though I felt good, I also knew that the race did not go as it should have. The adrenaline, the excitement, the disbelief had taken over and thrown my race plan out the window. I don’t regret anything that happened in the race though, I can only learn from it. Being there and racing against those top notch athletes let me know I’m on the right track. The hard work is paying off, now all I have to do is learn how to handle the situation. Penn Relays 2011 is the beginning good things to come. Soon I will be able to add my own name to the list of women who I look up to now.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
It’s been just over a month since my last race. Indoors is officially over and now its time to get ready for the real thing…OUTDOORS!! Throughout the indoor season I competed in an array of sprints events to help work on facets of my outdoor 400.
After taking a week to chill and train in Texas, it was back to the grind. The volume went back to what it was in the beginning of base training, but now the intensity is way up there. The thing about getting faster is it doesn’t make workouts any easier. I’m seeing a lot of improvements according to the stop watch, but its still just as hard as it was in October.
For the past two weeks I’ve been on some what of a teeter-totter. My goal for this year is to represent Canada internationally at some point to prepare me for next years Olympics. In March I ran a ‘test’ 4x400 in Ottawa and I thought it went pretty well, it was my foot in the door for a possible Team Canada. The problem with the foot in the door is sometimes the door swings open and shut, and that can hurt.
Next week I get my opportunity to get my whole body in! I will get my opportunity to don the Red and White for the first time at Texas Relays in Austin (Texas of course). This opportunity is both exciting and nerve racking all at the same time. I know this is my chance to prove that I can run with the best of them, not only in Canada, but internationally as well.
My training has been altered a bit to accommodate for this meet, so my body will be ready. Now I just need to work on the mental part and I should be ready to go!
Monday, March 7, 2011
Saturday, March 5, 2011
I took my time and made my way to the weight room. The facility at my sister's school is amazing! I look forward to lift just so I can chill in the weight room. *note to self: take pictures of awesome weight room*
After I was all said and done we headed home to get ready for a little trip.
Shreveport, Louisiana is 4 hour drive away so we decided to hit it up for 'Mardi Gras'. Its a little smaller then the one in New Orleans, but still should be good.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
I just finished a pretty successful indoor season, and I'm looking forward to what outdoors will bring. Every time I stepped on the track, I was able to set a new personal best, no matter what the distance. From 60m to 400m I've been improving. Finishing off the season second in the 400m was one of my many highlights. I was super close to breaking 39 in the 300m, if only I hadn't tightened up at the end, but now I know for next year.
I'll be in Texas for a couple more days, and I'll try to enjoy the hot weather while I can. Back to some hard training when I get back home, but I look forward to it.
I use to dread workouts that hurt, but now I look forward to them. The more I hurt in practice, the less I hurt in races....I kinda like it that way :-)
Thursday, January 20, 2011
So it’s been a pretty long time since I’ve updated my blog, and quite a bit has happen. I’ve been training my butt off and I’ve survived my hardest base training season EVER! Training has been taken up to a different level and I feel like its really paid off.
In December I was able to go to a training Camp in St. Kitts (with the help of several great friends) then after Christmas it was time to get my game face on. Last year I didn’t run an indoor season because I was in Trinidad, so opening up on Sunday felt a little foreign. First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever run on a Sunday, and second, this is my first season competing out east.
The races went pretty well none the less. I ran a 60, which I haven’t ran since 2006, and a 200. Both in the heats and the final for the 60 I was able to run a new personal best, 8.01, and in the 200 as well, 25.50 for an indoor personal best. I can feel myself getting stronger and quicker and its nice to feel it pay off. My starts are getting a bit better but they still need a little bit of work.
This weekend I will run a 300 at the University of Toronto and I’m really excited. I feel better this week I did then last week and I’m ready to run another personal best.