Thursday, May 26, 2011

PS- links...

Here's some links to see about some thIngs that I wrote about in my last post..

TC 1-mile:

Coverage of the Medtronic TC 1-mile from Carrie Tollefson (watch the end, that's my Apple Valley team!):

OXY 800m:

Ok folks, that's all I've got for now!

So much to tell!

Well, it's been an eventful whirlwind of a couple weeks for me! I think I'll start from the beginning, and work my way back up to what's going on today!

First off, I owe a very big thank you to everyone who was out on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis on May 12th for the Twin Cites 1-mile! As many people know, this event serves as the site for the USA 1-mile championships- having this event at home is such a treat to us local professionals, let me tell you! This event is so well-planned and organized, having waves of local and visiting runners of all ages running through the wide open streets of Minneapolis all night. It is by far, my favorite event from last year, and ranks at the top this season too so far!

I wasn't so sure if this race was going to be my favorite event this year as I went about the earlier part of that day. I developed a sore throat, some congestion, and all-over achiness that morning, and to be perfectly honest, had more of a sense of impending doom than I did excitement as I was making my way to the race course. If it were any other race, I probably would have taken myself out, but I couldn't stand the thought of missing this great opportunity to run at home in such a high caliber race, especially since I had ALL my parents (both mine and Ben's) coming to watch the race. :) I figured "mind over matter" would be the best approach to this race, so when the gun went off, I pushed the way my body felt out of my mind, and instead tried to soak up the energy of the race, and all the fans that lined the streets the entire way. When we reached the 3/4 mile mark, I was still in the game, but was seriously concerned that I may have burnt all the fuel I was going to have, but it is that final 400m of the race where the crowds were erupting with energy. I counted bodies, and noticed I was sitting in 6th place with maybe 300m to go. I finished 6th last year, so I decided I want to improve on that finish, and at east get one more person. Well, I caught the one, and then saw a few more racers not too far ahead of me, from there to the finish line, it was a momentum shift for me gaining, and others coming back to me. The best way I can describe it is it was effortless and magical. I love days like that. Long story short, I managed to nip my very talented teammate, Gabriele Anderson, right before the line to place 2nd in the race.

I was already elated with this finish, but then the cherry on top was to look to my left, and see the team I coach, the Apple Valley high school distance girls, all there, decked out in their gold warm ups, ringing cowbells and smacking around inflatable noise makers that they picked up along the course...I almost cried I was so happy I could do them proud that night. I don't think there was a single runner out there, not even the returning Champion from the men's race, David Torrence, who had more energetic fans than I did...I am so lucky.

The day after this amazing race, I boarded my plane to China...still sick...I was that girl everyone hates to sit by on the plane, sneezing and sniffling the whole way...dang. I got there, raced, and headed right back (as I wrote about in previous blogs). I got home Monday afternoon, unpacked, did laundry, and quickly re-packed to leave Thursday for a trip to L.A. for the Occidental High Performance meet. Luckily by this time my cold was finally breaking, and I was excited to be going to a place with almost guaranteed good weather, a fast field of competitors, and no excuses.

Well, almost no excuses. My teammate Gabe and I both had brought small rolly carry-on bags for this trip, but at the gate in the Minneapolis Airport, the airline had to check our bags because the overhead compartments on the plane were all filled. When we arrived in Burbank, California...our bags did not. Luckily, US Airways volunteered to compensate us for any essential items we needed to buy while we waited for our bags to arrive later that night. We still hadn't run yet, and as professional runners there for a meet..."a business trip" per se...we decided new running shoes, socks, shorts, and a shirt were necessary items. We found a cool running shop in Pasadena called "A Snail's Pace", and for the first time in a long time for the both of us, we bought running stuff. I in my Asics and Gabe in her Brooks gear. We felt like we were donning costumes (yes, again with the costumes!) as we ripped the tags off every single piece of clothing we put on to go for a run. Well, the expected arrival of our bags that night was delayed, they didn't come the next morning...and as the day went on, we began to get seriously nervous about whether we'd get our spikes, uniforms, (and for me, my teddy bear, Roscoe!) before the race the next day. FINALLY, a little over 24 hours after landing in Cali, our bags were delivered to the hotel, and we were able to visit the track for our pre-meet workout in our spikes and clean clothes...haha.

The next day, race day, arrived quickly because of all the stress and distraction of losing our bags. The night cooled down, the wind died down, and as expected, the night was setting up for a great track meet. I had discovered a song on "my iPod" (I put that in quotes because it is actually not my iPod...Ben found it on the ground on a run this past winter, and despite our attempts we couldn't locate the owner of it, so we kind of inherited a new iPod, and new music with that of course!), but this song I discovered, called Walking on Air by Kerli, had perfect lyrics that were inspiring to me that day:

"Do you know what it's all about? Are you brave enough to figure out...know that you cam set the world on fire...if you're strong enough to leave your doubt. Feel it...breathe it...believe it...and you'll be walking on air. Go try....go high...and you'll be walking on air.."

From this song, I decided my mantra for those race was to be strong and courageous, to leave my doubt and see if I could ealk on air, so to speak. I took off from the start, following ckosely behind our rabbit who took the race out in about 57 seconds for the first quarter. I did my best to keep the pedal down, and battle all the way to the finish, placing 4th in a fast race, and running 2:01.08. My PR is 2:01.05, which I ran back in 2007, so getting back within a breath of my best time ever was so encouraging and exciting for me.

I look forward to giving another go at the 800 next Wednesday night in St Louis!

And now, onto other news...

Ben and I began our house hunting quest earlier this year, and really ramped it up this week. We visited 8 houses on Tuesday morning, and at the end of the day, just one was standing out as "the one". We called our parents, and set up another visit to the home, today (Thursday). But, last night, we got a call from our realtor letting us know that another party will be putting an offer in on the house today...and if we wanted a chance at this house, we had to out in an offer of our own. Long story short, we decided to go for it. We got the paperwork sent 12 minutes after 12 noon, when the meeting with the seller was supposed to begin. Included in our paperwork, I felt impelled to write a note, letting the sellers know how perfect this house would be as our first home, and that we would take good care of the place, just as the previous owners clearly had. A few hours of waiting later, we got the call that they had made their decision, and we got it! They said our offer was very close in value to the other offer, but my note is what tipped the scale. So cool. :) As long as everything goes well with inspection, etc., our closing date shall be July 29th, and then we've got ourself a home! Yay for no more pouring our money into rent! Needless to say, we are very excited for this new all we have to do is get some furnuture to fill the place up a bit! :)

Ok, so that ends the saga of my life these past couple weeks...feels like a storybook to me. I am so very aware of how blessed I am for my health, for my family and friends, for my job(s), for my faith, and for my future that I can hardly imagine getting any better...but will always dream and hope it does...because, really, what else can any of us do, but live in positive expectation for the future.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My first Diamond League experience...

Well, I'm done competing, and as it goes with any new experience, I'm a bit disappointed, I learned a lot, and I am encouraged for my future races.

First off, it is a BAD idea to come to china 24 hours in advance before a race. I did my best to sleep when I got here last night (for 6 hours), and then took a walk in the morning, did a
shakeout in the afternoon, and then HIT A WALL of wakefulness at about 5pm. I was drifting for a couple hours before I went to the warm up track, and even there my mind was doing the thing it does right before you fall asleep, where you think one thought, and then it goes on a tangent to many others, until you realize what you're thinking doesn't make sense anymore...oh boy. I did my best to ignore the fact that I was tired, remind myself of the great opportunity I have here, and to stay engaged.

Warming up did help, thank the lord! Once I was running I could stay awake, though the walking part in between drils, etc. felt very lethargic. Not sure if the tiredness was especially hard because at home it is the wee hours of The morning, or if my congestion/stuffiness that I picked up this week (lucky me!) was getting to me too.

REGARDLESS of all the excuses I could make, my legs felt good doing strides, I felt pretty light and quick on drills, and was hoping for the best. The check-in/calls process at the meet was much less intimidating than I originally imagined, which was a nice surprise too.

For the race itself, I was in lane 2, and felt I got out pretty well, and was happy with my position until suddenly a couple girls squeezed me back right around the 200m mark. I thought to myself, oh well, this is a diamond league race, the rabbit is supposed to go out in 58, if I stay in the middle of the pack and be patient I should be ok...but the leader was actually
through the 400m in 60, so we had a little work to do on the second lap. In hindsight, I know now I should have started making a stronger move probably at 300 to go, because I started kicking closer to 200 to go, passed 2 women, finished, and realized I had a ton left in me.
(That's the encouraging part!) The 800 felt SUPER short in comparison to what I've been doing lately, but very comfortable, too comfortable, I realize now. I felt more like I finished a repeat in a workout than I did like I finished a race. At Oxy next week, I'll have to keep that in mind and really be confident and more aggressive/assertive in the earlier parts in the race.

All in all, a good experience, I am grateful to have a chance to see what an amazing meet like this is all about, I remember watching the diamond league meets online while we were in Europe last year and thought how cool it would be to be in one, yep, it is pretty dang cool. Hopefully I'll earn another chance soon.

In other good news, 8th place earns 1,000 bucks here, so the Kampf cash train flowing;)

I'm currently seeing how "the other half" lives in the Delta Sky Lounge in Tokyo as I await my next flight home. I'm lucky enough to make some athlete friends who happen to fly even more than I do,so they've got platinum membership and guest passes to share with me! I'm gonna go see what free food I can take advantage of...:)


This blog is being sent out a bit late because apparently China has strict Internet regulations on social networking websites like facebook and blogger! More to come about the race...

As my plane was landing in Shanghai this morning/last night (it was
8:30am for MN, 9:30pm for China...either way you look at it, working
into my 18th hour of travel), two things came to mind:
First thing was, wow, in 24 hours, I'll be done with my race already...

Secondly, I got to reminiscing about my very first travel trip as a
Gopher. It was indoor season, and we were flying to Indiana for a meet
at Notre Dame. I was so excited about the trip I remember emailing my
parents when I got there to tell them: FIRST, we took a bus from
school to the aiport, THEN we took the underground tram from one side
of the airport to ticketing, AND THEN we took a plane to Indy,
followed by ONE MORE bus to get to South Bend...we took so many forms
of transport, just to get to a track meet!

If only God had warmed me then...honey, you aint seen nothin yet!

I've decided today, after the longest trip of my life, traveling is
one of those odd experiences where time seems to have no meaning...the
only way to measure the passage of time is by your progressive
exhaustion, discomfort, and longing for a bed. To add to my body's
confusion was the meal schedule on our flight...we boarded around 3pm,
they fed us dinner around 4:30pm, then brought around a bag with a
little sandwich, apple, and cookie around 8pm (was this supposed to be
lunch again? I dropped it in my backpack and forgot about it), and
then I was awoken for a breakfast-type meal at like 1am...WHO EATS 3
MEALS from dinnertime to 1am? Lol...I just didn't understand if they
were trying to adjust us to the time zone we were entering by serving
us a whole day's worth of meals in reverse, or what...All whining
aside though, the crew on board was excellent, I mean no disrespect to
Delta for serving us so much food, and I especially don't mind racking
up a bunch of sky miles from them too!, all I'm saying is it created
some internal confusion.

Then the mental confusion was epitomized as I woke up and looked up on
the tv screen above me as we descended into Shanghai, and thought to
myself, weird, I feel like I've seen this episode before, now where
was I watching this show? Then I rememered it was the very first show
I tuned in to, on the first flight from Minneapolis to Tokyo, just 16
hours prior. Even though it kind of felt like no time had passed at
all because I spend so much time in the same place, it seemed soo long
ao since I saw that show the first time. Weird.

Once landed, I got a ride with one other late-arriving athlete (who
had been traveling since TUESDAY!) to the meet hotel, which is pretty
much attached to the track stadium! Very cool! It was around 11pm
here, and I walking in to a sleeping roommate in my hotel room, rammed
into a wall while looking for a light switch in the bathroom, but
finally brushed my teeth, and made my way to the bed I was longing
for. Even though it was late morning on my home time clock, I lad down
and slept for an amazing uninterrupted 6 hours more.

I got up early, snacked on the scones my mom sent with me (thanks
mom!!), and now I'm thinking about how I might spend my day! I race at
9:10pm, seems like a long time away, but I don't think I mind having a
bit of recovery/adjustment time anyways.

Oh, one other fun story from the flight (I'm sorry I've probably
complained a lot in this one so I want to end on a good note!) during
one of my standing breaks on the plane, there was an older man
standing and stretching with me who turned and said, "ya know, if they
made the aisle just a little bit wider, we could lay down a track
surface and run on here!" I laughed and said yeah, that'd be awesome!
I couldn't tell if he was just saying that, or if he knew I was a
track athlete, so I asked, 'did you know that's why I am traveling to
China- to run in a track race?!" He laughed and said he had no idea,
but thought it was pretty cool anyways too.

Ok, at some point I'd also like to write up a little something about
the great excitement that was the USA Championships Road Mile on
Thursday night, but for now I think I best be off! I'm hoping the good
performance there will transition me well into my first 800m tonight!

Love to everybody at home...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Missing ducks on a beautiful day..the story of my life...kinda....

Over the long and cold winter months, Ben and I have been diligently collecting the crust pieces of our bread in the freezer, anxiously awaiting "the first nice day of spring" for us to thaw out the bread, walk down to the creek, and feed the ducks. (The ducks hang out there all winter long, we see them almost every day when we run by there.) SO, the fateful day finally arrived last Tuesday where we both had an afternoon free, and the weather was gorgeous, so we walked to the store to buy one extra loaf of white bread (always good to be prepared for plenty of hungry ducks!) and were on our way! We walked to the place where we usually see the most ducks...and oddly enough, there were no ducks! A couple of geese, yes, but after Ben got bit in the achilles last year by a greedy goose, we don't like them anymore. Not about to give up on our quest, we started walking further down the path in search of ducks. Long story (and walk!) short, we traversed a lot of ground, but only found two pairs of ducks, both of which hardly seemed hungry. It was a sorry walk home, the two of us, with our bags of bread still full. At least it still was a lovely day, and it was nice to spend some quality time with my hubby despite finding no ducks to feed.

For some reason or another, this experience reminded me of my first couple of races this season. I had high expectations, interrupted by slight disappointments, followed by the positive realization that things really aren't so bad after all...allow me to explain...

So my first race was the Grand Blue Road Mile in Des Moines on Tuesday the 26th of April. I was very excited for this, because road miles tend to be either flat or downhill and fast...however, in an unfortunate turn of events, the race course was reversed. I guess the biggest sponsor of the race, Blue Cross Blue Shield, asked for the finish line to be located on their own front lawn...which so happens to be at the top of the hill we were originally planning to run down. To add to the fun, the wind was cooperating splendidly. With the old course. So basically, we were to run UPhill, AGAINST a pretty steady wind. This race was living up to its name...Grand indeed. The nice thing about racing in less than ideal conditions though, is everybody is dealt the same hand. We raced like we would anything else, although the winning time this year was about 11 seconds slower than last year's. As for results I came out 5th, in a time I'd much rather not mention (ha!). I was hoping to be a bit higher up there, but I felt good for my first race and it was a pretty close finish, so I was content. Just like the duck feeding episode, I came in hoping for the best, had some minor setbacks to deal with, but came out more ready for my next race, and grateful to have my husband and parents there to watch, some great friends to race with, and even my good friend Molly Beckwith (who trains in Indiana) got to ride home with me to Minneapolis to hang out for a couple days before we made the trip back down to Des Moines to run at the Drake Relays together!

That transitions me perfectly into the next race, the Drake Relays Special 1500m on the track. Lemme tell you something about this race, it was stacked. The start list included big names like Jenny Simpson (formerly Barringer, also a former Olympian), Treniere Clement (several time US champ) Lauren Hagens (returning champ of Drake Relays 1500), Sarah Bowman (ran like 4:05 in the 1500 in 09), Heidi Dahl (runner up at US indoors this year in the mile), my amazing runner of a teammate Gabriele Anderson (3rd at US indoors in the mile), my friend Molly Beckeith, (who probably wouldn't even call herself a 1500 runner yet but is ON FIRE right now she is running so well) and well, there were more, but you get the picture. In my head I was thinking this was the perfect setup for a PR race for me, just get in there, try to stay in there, and give it all I had. For some reason or another though, once that gun went off, I felt a little like I was in la-la land. I wan't mentally focused, the race felt much too long, but then suddenly it was over. I came out with a time of 4:17, but placed 6th, and was pretty bummed as I walked off the track. But as I settled down, yet again the positive realization came to me that my time is only 2 seconds off from my PR, and it was about 5 seconds faster than my opener at the Drake Relays last year. As my mom would say, that's nothing to sneeze at!

While everything isn't going as perfectly as it would in my wildest dreams right now, I am happy to know I am starting out in a much better place than I was a year ago, and in running, improvement of any kind is always welcome. I'm taking these things in stride as I approach next week, which will also be a big one for me for racing! Thursday night I am running in one of my all-time favorite races, the TC-1 mile, which just so happens to also double as the road 1-mile USA Championships. Should be a great race, I can pretty much guarantee the course won't be switched to run up a big hill, and the home crowd will surely be wonderful! I think I even have some Apple Valley High School distance runners that I coach coming out to cheer me on.

Next on the docket: CHINA. Yeah, nothing to sneeze at there either, huh? I just received a text from my agent yesterday that there might be a spot opening up for an 800m race in the Shanghai Diamond League meet. For those of you who aren't familiar, a diamond league meet is pretty much a HUGE deal, an opportunity I would be stupid to pass up. Even though it's not the best timing to go, I decided to take the risk, so after I race Thursday night, I will fly out early Friday morning, the trip in total will be about 17 hours to Shanghai, but with the time change included I will arrive mid-afternoon Saturday, the race is on Sunday, and then we'll turn it back around to come home Monday. The even funnier thing to picture is leaving China Monday afternoon, traveling 19 hours with connections, etc, but still arriving home on Monday evening our time...that'll make for a long "day"...haha. I joke now, but hopefully despite the travel all my ducks will be a) present, b) in line, and c) hungry (so to speak) to make the trip worth it!