Wednesday, February 17, 2010

USA Cross Country Championships

This past weekend was the US cross country championships in Spokane, Washington.  It was a great race to be in and I have been gearing towards this race since last year.  So, for 365 days, I've been dreaming of racing well here and making a US team.  And by the feel of my workouts leading up to this race, I felt as if it were possible.  

The trip to Spokane was great, and I was accompanied with some great people.  So, when race day came it was going to be a familiar feeling.  That morning, the weather was "perfect".  I was and hoping for rain and cold miserable weather, but that wasn't the case.  A nice 50 degrees and sunny skies would pave way for a great race.  The gun goes off at 2pm and I had a feeling that 20 guys or so would be capable of making the two US teams.  One being the World Cross Country team (6 guys) and the other being the NACAC team (5 guys).  So, ideally, you want to be at least top 11 in order to be on one of those teams if no one declines.  And that was the goal...

By the first kilometer I was in great position in around 9th or 10th place.  We hit that kilometer in about 2:47, which was pretty quick, but I felt alright.  I just wanted to stay there and hopefully other guys would fall apart and I would maintain a good position.  The first loop was pretty quick and I was still in that lead pack.  At that point I felt good but everyone else were feeling better.  The pack starts to drift apart over the next few kilometers and I start fading and getting passed.  The 5k came up in about 14:40 something and I was feeling it.  As each guy came up on me I tried to go with them and surge just to hold on.  But, that would not help as I still faded.  I finally held on to 16th place as the finish was coming up.  So I finished in 36:36 in 16th place.  It was faster than last year and a better placing than last year, but not exactly what I wanted.  

I kept thinking that I needed to be stronger so that I could hold on to the position I started off at, but ultimately that performance was the best I could do.  It was a great race and I am now happy with the way it turned out.  I originally wanted more from that race, but I can only take what happened and use that for next year and other racing in the future.  

Next on the schedule is Stanford 10k and then the Country Music Marathon in April. 



Friday, February 5, 2010

On the Horizon, the USA Cross Country Championships

So the USA Cross Country Championships is just about a week away and the entry list is looking pretty good!  There are only 6 spots to make the USA World Cross team and 5 spots to make the NACAC team.  Both of them are US teams, and I would be honored to make either of them.  So the goal is to be top 10 and secure a spot on either team.  I know its going to take a lot of grit and grind to make anyone of those teams, but I've been thinking about this race for a year.  Since last year, this has been all I've been thinking about and all I want, among a few other achievements in running.  The obvious would be to: make a US team, make the Olympic Trials, run sub 14 in the 5k, or make a US National Championships race.  Anyone of those things and I may feel content with all the years of running I've done.   

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

UNM Lobo Indoor 3k

Running a PR is always something to be happy with, which is what occurred this past weekend.  It was another UNM indoor race, with loads of runners in all sorts of events.  Allyson Felix was at the meet and she ran a Stadium record in the 400m in 52.05!  So that was sweet to see.  Then it was nice to see some of the UNM guys and girls run well leading up to the mens 3k.  I knew in the weeks leading up to this race, that it was going to be stacked with a grip load of studs and NCAA All-Americans.  So, it was nice to see that I made it into that heat, as there were two heats of this race.  

To name a few guys, we had: Rory Fraser (13:39 5k), Patrick Smyth (1:02 half-marathon among other top 5 performances at USA Championships), Ben Bruce (8:26 sc), Jason Lehmekule (5th at the US Marathon Trials, 2:14) and a couple of other sub 14:00 5k guys.

So, with all this talent in the field and a rabbit to pace the leaders through at 8:05 pace for 3k, it was going to be exciting.  There was a waterfall start, and since I was seeded second to last in this heat I was on the waterfall on the outside lanes, which was fine.  Once the gun went off, everyone took off like a bat out of hell.  Our little group didn't cut in, until the 100m mark and I positioned myself around 6th or 7th place through the first 400m.  After that point, I was still running in lane 2 so I decided to move up and sit on the inside lane, but there was no way to get in unless I moved up to 4th place behind Rory and Smyth.  So, like an impatient runner I did exactly that.  I was nice and secure in 4th place through the 800m mark in about 2:13.  The pace started to heat up and I was holding on while a few guys passed me as we hit the mile in about 4:24.  I was in about 7th place at this time and Jason Lehmekule started to move and pass a bunch of us on the outside.  At that point I decided I could go with him and position myself back in 4th place, since at this point the rabbit dropped off and the leaders were now: Smyth, Fraser and Lehmekule.  I was in 4th again for a short amount of time as Ben Bruce passed  me and then Aucencio Martinetz passed me as well.  Naturally, I tried to stick on them but could only hold their pace for a few hundred meters and would fade off of each of them.  I could hear the announcer and the crowds going nuts, since it was a great battle between UNM's Rory Fraser and Team USA Minnesota's Patrick Smyth at the bell lap.  I could see them killing each other as I was trying to close the gap on Lehmekule, since Bruce and Martinetz passed him, but that didn't happen in the finally 200 meters.  The crowd roared to Fraser's win of 8:08 and a wake of runners that still bettered the Stadium record of 8:10.  Four guys went under the old record and Lehmekule finished in 8:13 as I was kicking in just under 8:20 with a new PR of 8:19.99.  

It has a catchy ring to say 8:19, instead of 8:20... So I was full of smiles and happy to run that fast before the US Cross Championships.  I know two of those guys in my race are racing Cross, so its going to be a great race out there in Spokane.  I am getting excited and wonder how fast I could run a 5k at sea level...?  Sub 14:00?  And I don't know if I'll get the chance to do that this year.  It would be nice, but it also would be nice to make a US Team.  I think I'll go for the US team and see what happens.