Monday, February 29, 2016

2016 Olympic Trials Marathon Weekend

The lead up to the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon was much different than in 2012.  I was coming into the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon with a recent 2:32:55 PR and was running for adidas-McMillanElite, so there was greater pressure to perform well.  It ended up that I raced in 2012 with a gnarly head cold, but it was still a solid performance for me despite feeling rough.

Competing at the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials.

Fast forward to November 2015 and I still didn't have a qualifier for the 2016 Trials.  I had run Eugene Marathon earlier in the year with the intention of securing my qualifier.  I ended up 2nd in the race, but only ran 2:44.  As soon as I had decided I wouldn't go for a last chance qualifier in January, USA Track and Field released the change in qualifying standards on December 11th, meaning I was now in.  I was now entering the Trials as one of the last qualifiers, a far different position from 2012.

Ian quickly put together 9-weeks of marathon training and I hit the pavement running by the following Monday.

Pre-Trials mandatory technical meeting.

The calm before the storm.  The start line the day before the race.

By race day, I had put in a strong 9-weeks of training compared to my last couple years.  I was thrilled to have been able to complete all of the training (exception of when Super Bee took off, frightened of gun shots) and to have hit training paces closer to where I feel I should be.  Granted, I wasn't logging the 100+ mile weeks that every other Trials qualifier in Flagstaff was doing, but it's all relative and I was happy with where I was at.

Bottles for race day.

Super Bee and Sycamore helping me gather my race day necessities.

Originally, I wanted to aim for a sub-2:40 at Trials.  As we got closer to race day and the forecast for temperatures in the high-70's to low-80's became certain, Ian strongly advised I back off that goal time and start much more conservatively.  This was the best decision.  When the gun went off, I just felt out of sorts but not terrible.  By half-way, it wasn't coming together despite starting conservative and my pace started slipping.  In the middle two 6-mile loops, I'd walk every time I saw Ian and confirm that I should finish out the race even though I wasn't competing anymore. I had some nausea that was coming in waves, but otherwise I was physically fine.  Let the trudging continue!

Still competing at this point.
How can you find yourself alone among over 200 runners?
The loneliness of the long distance runner...not to mention it's quite warm at this point.

The day of the Trials also happened to be my 30th birthday!
Birthday roses from my parents were delivered to our hotel room the evening before. 

Many runners had to drop or ended up in the medical tent receiving IV's due to the crazy warm conditions, all spurred by the first ever live television coverage of the Olympic Trials Marathon.  I was very happy to have finished in one piece in 2:54 and 100th place, 66 spots ahead of my starting position.  This was my slowest marathon ever, but not every one can be a PR.  Overall, I was grateful to have been a part of this year's Olympic Trials once again.  Sure, there were some organizational issues that have been discussed post-event, but that's a whole other blog, and there are others who have already addressed these issues in their own blogs.

I like this graphic by Tracy Green of the stats from the race:

Graphic by Tracy Green.

One of the neatest aspects of this Trials, was the huge representation by Flagstaff runners.  We had at least 13 runners (I know I'm missing someone) who live and train in Flagstaff year round qualify for the Trials.  For a smaller mountain town at 7,000 feet that's pretty impressive.

A few of the Flagstaff athletes:
Matt Llano and Kellyn Taylor of HOKA NAZ Elite.  TRF PRO members Nick Arciniaga,
Danny Mercado, Nick Hilton and Tyler Jermann.

With the Trials being held in Los Angeles, we had a huge support system make the trip to cheer on the athletes in person.  Thanks to them for bringing more of Flagstaff to the streets of LA!

Flagstaff getting ready for a day of cheering!
Group photos by Stephanie Del Giorgio.

I can tell hard work went into these signs.
Of course my personal favorite is "Bee Super," a play on my Border Collie Super Bee.
Ian completing his dual role of boyfriend and coach on the course.

Super Bee representing the finishers medal while Sycamore looks on.

Nap time post-trials.

If a birthday and running in the Olympic Trials wasn't enough, how about a fender bender trying to get out of LA.  We were so close to surviving the big make it even better, it was a hit and run.  The other car sped off and didn't even hesitate to stop.  Thankfully everyone was okay and once the wrecker pulled the fender off the tire and the police report filed, we were on our way again.  

Poor truck has been through a lot!

Wait...we're not done yet!  The weekend had yet more to bring in terms of excitement.  After we got mobile again, we headed to our original destination of Joshua Tree National Park....

Where Ian proposed!

Engagement ring next to a Joshua tree.  

I had no idea this was coming so it really was a big surprise.  I had never been to Joshua Tree and we've talked about taking a trip, so I assumed it was a typical detour on the trip like we are apt to do.  It wasn't planned to happen on Valentine's Day but that's the way it unfolded.  The best part was, no one knew beforehand except for my parents.  That's a big secret to keep!

Photos from Joshua Tree National Park.

Skull Rock in Joshua Tree.

Tired dogs after a short run in Joshua Tree.

This will certainly never be a weekend I'll forget!  There was intrigue around every corner.  Next up will be a return to the trails and ultras this spring.  

A big thank you to Ian for getting me to the start line and to HYPO2 and Dr. AJ Gregg for keeping the body healthy and strong.  


Pat said...

Well said, but I like the ending the best!

Run Daly said...

Great blog and congrats to you for a great month. So happy for you and Young Ian.

Jana said...

Great photos and post. So much happened in just a few days. Very excited for you on all accounts. xo

Nicolas Nouvel said...

what a great series of events. Massive congrats to both you and Ian. Very happy for both of you.

Adam Haesler said...

Congratulations on finishing, for me this is one of the most important parts of a race, unless you really just cannot go on. Even more important as an ultra runner as usually your in the middle of nowhere!

Congratulations on your engagement, I like the ring, original!

Seems from your blog and listening to a couple other people, getting a qualifier race is the biggest challenge. I am surprised that races are not given a handicap to make all races equivalent.

I was curious if you know why the race is an out and back where you will have to interact with on coming runners? Seems to me, in the interest of giving everyone there very best opportunity to qualify for the Olympics you would make the course a point to point or one giant loop.