End of season recap

Disappointing conclusion to the short spring season. While I love the sport of running, it’s not always personal best and linear progression. I will admit this season was HARD. I tried telling myself that if I never said out loud how poor training and races were going that maybe I could pull something out in the last meet of the year. While unable, I truly am thankful for the opportunity to be able to travel and race many times. 12 months ago I never thought I would be racing, let alone training at the level I am at now. So while I may be embarrassed about Portland I know bigger things to come. You learn something from every race and I’m starting to understand I need to trust my coach (my pops) more with when it’s time to stop when the body is saying it needs a break.

US 25k Championships (River Run|Grand Rapids, MI)

  • Flew out for this race bright and early the morning after the spring semester concluded. Planned to travel with an old teammate & friend Hunter Hayes, but work caused him to miss last minute. The weather for this race was perfect, especially this time of the year coming from the heat in the South, ~37* and cloudy for the duration of the race. Was surprising to have to wear gloves when it was summer time! Took out the race in about 9-10th place for the first few miles, alongside Will Nation, clipping along with sub 5 min feeling smooth. Got through 10k in ~31:10 with my legs under me knowing that sub 67 for the HM split was possible (Goal was sub 67 through HM to get CIM qualifier). Kept rolling around the 5 min/mile mark until about 8 miles when the course crossed the river and turned around to head back. I was running solo at this point and I truly thought that there was a head wind the first half of the race… until I crossed the river and ran towards the finish line. The back half of the race was tough and I tried to hang out after getting a cramp at 15k (10k to go). Came through the HM in 68:10 and finished 16th Looking back, it was a great experience and atmosphere. Would have loved to have more company during the race, will just need to be fitter next time to be able to keep up with the two front groups! As for the sub 67, looking for a race this fall to get the time in my buildup for another marathon attempt.

Portland Track Festival

  • I knew about 10 laps into the 10,000m that I should call it a day. Back tightened up and I was struggling to run 74/75’s. Came through 5000m in 15:10 exhausted, 4 seconds off my first 5k in Richmond. I thought coming off of my poor MCDC performance that the significant weather change from Nashville (82*/90% humidity) to Portland would be enough to go for a personal best but boy I was wrong haha. It’s a bit confusing but when the body is tired not much you can do but reset and go from there. The Lewis & Clark track was a beautiful setup and the weather was perfect (54*). Was great to see some familiar faces at the meet in old SEC competitors, rabbit athletes, & people I’ve met on the running circuit. May be time to “hang up the spikes” till I graduate from veterinary school, but I know I’ll be back one day. Truly love racing on the track and would love to opportunity to take down my college 10,000m PB of 29:49. Might just have to do that on the road before then 😉

Spring Update!

It has been many months since I have last posted, with the beginning of the Spring semester of veterinary school free time does not come by often. Since it is Spring break and I have a moment, I thought it would be good to go through how training has been  (& currently going), as well as how the three races have gone since the beginning of 2018.

I am currently involved in a study with the Auburn University Department of Kinesiology where they are evaluating the effects of whey protein on endurance athletes. This is a 10-week study that I began at the end of January and will conclude at the beginning of April. I did all of the preliminary testings in January where my vO2 max was measured as well as completed a “blind 5k” where the treadmill time & speed were covered and I increased the speed only based off of feeling (set a 1% grade the whole way). Many other diagnostic tests were done to measure bone, muscle, & fat capacity; they also measured the mitochondrial function of the muscles in my legs. This program required three weeks of build-up mileage, a recovery week, three weeks build-up, a recovery week, a peak mileage week, then a recovery week before the final testing (another blinded 5k + repeating all diagnostic evaluations). Mileage has looked like this: 76, 77, 79, 75, 84, 89, 94, (~75, 98, 75| currently in the middle of the 75-mile week with the last two weeks remaining.) With all that being said, my real spring workouts will begin officially early April at the conclusion of the study. Just this week I did my first workout since the marathon attempt and my fitness is coming along nicely! Should be a fun, interesting Spring 🙂

This past year as a whole has been crazy. I have been hurt, got very out of shape, and regained fitness slowly but surely. Looking back on the mileage shows that my body is getting back in the groove! Thankful to be healthy for almost a full year!miles.jpg

Things to come:

As spring workouts get closer, the next race on the schedule is the Collegiate 10k Championships in Richmond, VA. This competition is run in conjunction with the Ukrops 10k, bringing in a total of ~30,000 runners. After that I will be changing up my original plan and most likely will be running the Half Marathon Championships in Pittsburgh, PA! Another new race that may be added to the schedule is the Bay to Breakers 12k. We are currently trying to form together a Rabbit squad to go for the team title in the centipede division. Would be a really cool racing being attached by the hip to 12 other great runners, working together over the hills in San Francisco!

Race recaps:rednose1

 

Red Shoe Run (Jan. 27th)- Ran this race the day after turning 26. This was the first hard effort post Marathon Championships. Having done zero quality work going in I still had high expectations to run strong. The course was hilly and the weather was muggy/rainy. Came out with 1 OA in 54:04 (5:24/mile).

 

 

JaxDonna Marathon Relay (Feb. 11th)- This was a fun relay in Jacksonville, FL. We had a 5 man relay consisting of Andrew Scott, Colin Lynch, Hunter Hayes, James Perez, and myself. This race was run on the road right by the beach for the first ~22-23 miles then went inland towards the finish at the Mayo Clinic. I was given the 5th and final leg that wasn’t exactly flat! We all ran into the issue (since being in the relay division) of passing many half marathoners on the way to the finish and since we were holding the baton many cheered for us initially but stopped when they saw the baton in our donnamarathon1hands! I decided 2 miles into my leg to put the baton inside the side of my shorts just so I didn’t have to carry it the whole way. I didn’t realize it would confuse people into thinking I was winning the whole marathon! I made my way to the finish with the Escalade escort and even got to break the tape since I was presumed to be the marathon winner haha. I got interviewed by the local news station and was able to give some shoutouts to my relay mates, our sponsor (Intrepid Capital Financial|Hunter’s employer), and my grandmother since she is a breast cancer survivor). All in all, it was a wonderful experience.

We finished 1st OA in the relay division with a time of 2:31:42 and I ran my leg in 32:42 officially (5:14/mile). Again, this was off no workouts yet and in Jax weather which is far from ideal on race day! (Wonderful for the beach though 😉 ).

“Getting to race through my hometown was awesome. What made it better was being apart of a team that day, something you rarely get in running post-college” –James Perez

“Running with friends and supporting breast cancer research is a fantastic experience. Can’t wait to win even more relays with my Pentabreast (Intrepid) brethren. Undefeated!” –Hunter Hayes

wine1Wine 10k (March 3rd)- This is a new race to the Birmingham area having begun 2 years ago. This is the third year in a row I have raced it (finishing 2nd, 7th previously)! Was looking forward to racing Brandon York (local AL runner & OTQ) but he texted me the morning before the race saying he had to pull out due to injury.

wine6

 

 

The weather the morning of the race was perfect, it was a beautiful day with crisp, cool air. The start uses a cannon to mark the beginning of the race. I thought having done the race in the past I would be used to the cannon, but WOW that thing makes me jump every single time! I took the first mile smooth over the rolling hills and looked around seeing I had four Kenyans around me all with unfamiliar faces. Many people came from out of town (myself included) because of the prize money for the top 5. As the first mile approached, I had separated myself from the field aside from one runner. I decided to let him go right before the mile because it felt like we were going a little too fast. He rolled through the mile in 4:43 and I was shortly behind in 4:47. Over the next two miles of hills the runner in first slowly made a gap between us while we were both continuing our lead on the field behind us.

wine5

wine7

After hitting the halfway point (5k) in ~15:47, the next mile was straight downhill to the familiar Lakeshore trail. I could barely see the leader ahead so catching him seemed unlikely. I decided to settle into my pace and secure 2nd place. I ended up 2nd OA & 1st American in 31:50 (5:08/mile). This was 9 secs faster than last year and my last mile was about 20 seconds slower than last year (whoops)! This is a wonderful race I hope to continue to be able to race over the years to come.

 

wine4wine2

Spring Race Schedule – 2018

As the marathon block closed, I was excited to get back into training once my body fully recovered. I was wanting to give the marathon another try immediately in the Spring but after talking with my coach (Dad) the shorter distance made more sense with the intention of going after the marathon next winter. With that said, I’ll be training for the 10,000m on the track and will also key a longer distance race to get my qualifier to be able to go back to CIM for the marathon championships!

With the help of my college coach, Mark Carroll, I have already started implementing heavy weight training into my buildup. This is the first time I’ve included low reps/high weight into my training block so I’m excited to see how my body responds throughout the racing season. Above all, I’m happy to be healthy and continue to do what I love!

Here is my Spring racing plan:

Red Shoe Run (Birmingham, AL) – January 27th red shoe.PNG

Donna Marathon Relay (10k leg|Jacksonville, FL) – February 11th

donnamarathon

Birmingham Wine 10k (Birmingham, AL) – March 3rd 

wine10k.PNG

Collegiate Running Association 10k Championships (Richmond, VA) – April 14thcollegiate10k USA 25k Championships (Grand Rapids, MI) – May 12th 

25kchamps

Portland Track Festival (10,000m|Portland, OR) – June 9th 

portland.PNG

 

The Marathon Debut

Blogging has interested me over the past training block but I never knew how to start. After this past weekend spent in California, I felt that it would better for me moving forward in my running career if I  put my thoughts “out there” so I can better understand moving forward (and as I look back in the future).

I began training for this marathon debut back in early June. I was coming off of three months of zero exercise as I recovered from a triple stress fracture in my right fibula. I was the heaviest weight I had been in my entire life and even thinking of racing seemed farfetched, let alone that far, did not seem realistic. I applied for the US Marathon Championships on a whim, with my qualifying time (sub 67 min HM) meeting the 2-year qualifying window by a mere 2 days. I was accepted weeks later and knew this was going to be a challenge to train for let alone run well at a championship.

18814734_3900848552286_23778429354294646_o
2nd run back from injury

The beginning of training went well as I built my mileage up from zero. Pops carefully planned the increase in mileage as I ran 20, 25, 30, etc total each week. By mid-August, I began to do workouts running my first sub 6 min mile in over 6 months. Fitness continued to progress over the next few months as I won the Great Race (Late September) in Pittsburgh with a new course PB time of 31:01 (on a surprisingly hot & humid day for up there). Roughly a month after the first race, I traveled to Baltimore, MD w/ old teammate & friend Hunter Hayes to do a glorified workout across the half marathon distance. I came away with 5th overall running ~71:30 comfortably on a difficult course. Training continued to go well and indicated that I had progressed fitness wise to a state where I could run my goal time of sub 2:22:00.

Come race week, tapering began and the fitness was there (to run sub 2:22). I had lost around 25 lbs since the training cycle began and I had found the racing confidence I once had in college. I rested more throughout the week and ran easy on my now shorter runs. I flew out to Sacramento on Thursday ready to debut in this unknown territory. That

cim6.png
rabbit dinner at Ironhorse Tavern Sacramento 

Friday night I had the opportunity to meet other rabbit athletes at dinner and be able to meet one of the Co-founder/Owners of the company rabbit. The anticipation for the race was felt between each athlete, all ready to toe the line for the long race ahead. Seeing the fire & passion in each of the other athletes’ eyes was inspiring. The support for each other was there and I am grateful to be apart of something so much bigger. Once race weekend began I spent my trips with my two roommates, Hunter Hayes & Sean Brown, traveling to and from the hotel for the race expo, doing shakeout runs, and going to the technical meeting. By late Saturday afternoon, everything was ready to go. My water bottles were checked, bib number on the jersey, everything packed ready for the 3:45 a.m. wake-up to take the elite bus to the start line for the 7 a.m. start. I played through my head many times how I wanted to run the race and having told nobody what I truly had my eyes on: OTQ qualifying time (sub-2:19).

 

cim
1st US Championship with rabbit

The race began right at 7 a.m., very brisk (41 degrees, little to no humidity) outside for someone living in the South. I set out just like any other race, getting into my rhythm and eventually settling in to what I thought would be my pack for the day. We clipped along the first two miles at paces I thought were reasonable 5:18 then 5:20. Paces I trained to be able to run for the duration of the 26.2-mile race, but as we kept going the pace cim5drastically fluctuated. Over the next 11-12 miles, the pace was anywhere from 5:08 for the mile split to 5:20. I ran off of feel and thought I could sustain this pace despite not training at such a fast pace. I knew deep down that I’m a competitor and that race day I usually can find even more within myself than what training ever shows. I stuck in the large 25 man group through the half marathon split, crossing at 1:08:46, easily on pace to run under 2:19 even with a positive split. I stayed with the group through 15 having averaged 5:15/mile and knew I should back off a bit because the easiness of each mile was not as smooth as it was earlier. I backed

cim4
Only race photo of the day (18.3 miles)

off from mile 15-18 and came through 18 miles still on pace for the Olympic  standard 5:18/mile (despite the digression). Shortly after that 18-mile marker, it was as if flipping a switch, I went from feeling okay to my legs feeling non-functional. I tried to keep going but even as I tried to run (now at an 8:30 min/mile pace) my legs would not cooperate. I knew this was probably this “wall” marathoners talked about around mile 20, sadly my “wall” came much sooner since I was a little too aggressive with my first half. I knew shortly after I probably would not be able to make it to the finish so I cut my loss and sucked up my pride. As I slowly took my body off the course, the van that picked up the elite athletes unable to finish came pulling up (thank God). The ride in the van over the next 8 miles felt like an eternity not to mention how locked up each muscle was in my legs , goosebumps all over my body, and zero feeling in my face. We picked up an old Auburn teammate of mine, Ty McCormack, around mile 21. He had the same issues as I did with the body not functioning the full distance, we had run together for the first 15 or so miles of the race. Having to ride up to 26.1 miles in the vans (in complete silence, each of us feeling each others defeat), while being cheered for by spectators on the side who did not know what was going on. Getting off the bus close to the finish line was not the easiest of things with two legs that were not working. I made my way over to the medical tent to get some recovery and hopefully see my friend Hunter finish under his goal time…

 

As I look back, I know I put myself in the position I was unable to overcome but not going for such an aggressive goal wouldn’t have truly been me. While I still am foreign to the marathon distance, I understand much better what it will take to make it to the finish and be able to sustain the pace needed for the OTQ. I respect the marathon distance and every marathoner out there that much more after trying to endure that distance myself. Thankful (is an understatement) for the opportunity to be able to travel and attempt this race and to be there when Hunter finished in 2:58. He was just short of his goal, but getting his first (of many I’m sure) Boston qualifier. Thankful to be a part of rabbit with 6 OTQ coming from the Pros & Elites. I take away many memories from this trip and will be back next year that much stronger ready to give it another go.

cim2.png
Parting ways as we leave Cali
cim3.png
Standing atop Twin Peaks          (San Fransico)