I was ranked 15th heading into the race. The international competition seemed pretty fierce – athletes from Ethiopia, Kenya, Australia, and Great Britain flew all the way to Cali to race me in a 5k! So maybe not just because they heard I was going to be there, but I’m sure it was in the back of their minds. Needless to say, I was excited to race!
My coach called me the night before and asked what my race plan was. My response, “go with the second group and pick people off as they come back to me.” I pride myself on being able to read my body well and think that is a major reason why I’ve been so successful – I let it tear when I’m feeling good and hold back when I’m sensing the tank is nearing empty.
From the gun the pack split into 2 groups – the Africans and the non-Africans. The first 800 meters or so were uphill. I was already struggling and thought to myself that it just may not be my day. Nothing you can do about that, some times the stars just don’t align.
Once we crested the hill I settled in the back of the pack and started feeling better. There was a sharp U-turn at the end of the first mile. I took it wide and suddenly sprung into the lead of the 2nd pack.
1st Mile: 5:07
The entire 2nd mile was directly into the wind. As we ran along an ocean road the wind blew hard, pushing me back a little each step. I saw one of the girls from the lead pack dropping off and started accelerating in hopes of catching her.
Although I couldn’t “tuck in” since the girl leading my pack was maybe 90 pounds, I should have relaxed instead of pushing the pace. I got greedy. Live & learn!
2nd Mile: 5:04
Mile #3: I wasn’t able to ditch the Aussies, and as the finish line grew closer it became painfully obvious that I was not going to catch the Ethiopian ahead of me. So, for the next 1.1 miles I tried to keep up the same pace without showing any signs of fatigue to my competitors. I did a good job until about 800 meters left when 3 Aussies went flying by me, down the hill & into the finish shoot. I kept pressing, but my legs were burning and I had absolutely nothing left. I watched the clock click 15:51 and tried to lunge towards the finish line as quickly as possible to get under 16 minutes.
3rd Mile: 5:09, last .1: 37 seconds
10th place overall, 1st American, 15:57
Positives: Never gave up & used my mental cues – kept telling myself to just make it to different points on the course My legs held me back, not my breathing – a sign that my endurance is good, but I need to work on race-specific pace.
Negatives: Got greedy during mile 2 – knew what I had left in the tank, but disregarded the signs my body was giving me. This was a big tactical mistake! I underestimated the girls running with me and locked in on the one ahead of me.