Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spikes Times 5

Anytime I put on my spikes I know its going to be a fast day. Lately it seems like its happening more often then not. Before this week the most I've put them on is maybe four times, with a very lackluster fourth appearance. Times have changed. Spikes Monday, spikes Tuesday, spikes Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday!! Speed kills, unless you're strong like me :-)
In past times five days of spikes was unheard of for me and if it was attempted, I would have been crawling home by day four.
Monday's spike workout was expected, and much wanted. After the two weeks of relay camp I wanted to get back to working on things to make me faster. The camps were an eye opener in two ways, one; that I need to get faster, and two; I'm on the right track. Monday felt good, but when Tuesday rolled around and I was in spikes again I knew something was up. "Turn over, work on your turn over". The key to my race will be the first piece, the first 100 meters where turn over is key. Right now I have the strength, but with my sub par turn over it does me no good. Wednesday, spikes again! I was still feeling good though, and the work on turn over on Tuesday make longer speed even easier. As I look over at my team mates rolling on the ground, I don't feel the same, I feel amazing, like I can go on forever. Long speed use to be my worst enemy, but to on Wednesday I made it my....well you know.
For sure by Thursday I thought I would be in flats, something easy maybe. Or Not! At this point easy has officially been removed from my vocabulary and replaced with "not as hard as yesterday". Once again the spikes are strapped up and the intensity a raised. Bang! Bang! Bang! one after another, I feel like I'm running short sprints forever. 40 meters never seemed hard before, but Thursday definitely changed that for me.
By Friday I know the drill. At no point do I tell myself that I might do something light. Like clockwork the spikes go on. To my amazement I feel nothing though, no soreness, no tiredness, no fatigue. My legs feel so good you would think it was Monday. Today I work on being fast and relaxed, something I never really got the hang of before. Friday was different though, Friday I finally grasped the concept. It felt like I was running 60s forever, at no point did I keep track of the count. "One more", "one more", "one more". With each "one more" my coaches look at their clocks and smile. I don't feel super fast, but I know by their reaction they like what they see.
Five days of spikes would break down the average athlete. After five days of spike I walked away with some of my fastest 60s of the year. I guess I might be a little above average :-)

Monday, May 2, 2011

It Felt Like I Was Floating

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.