Contest Winners Announced! (See bottom of page)

The Race at Crystal Palace Diamond League

finish

Photo: Getty Images

It was so awesome I can’t even describe it.  It felt…good?  Yeah good.  Like the way 5k’s used to feel before I broke my navicular in 2008.  It had been so long that I almost forgot how GOOD it can feel to race when you are properly prepared.  My body felt smooth and relaxed for eight whole laps, and not having a cramp allowed the body to do what it was trained to do once the pace started to grip in.

The hardest part was getting to the starting line.  After Stockholm, I was hell bent to make a turn around for London, but I was shell-shocked, hyper-sensitive and mentally fragile. I got all the right people on board to tackle the physical stuff, and then I set to work with assembling my mental arsenal.

With 24 hours ’til start time, my focus was getting to the starting line as relaxed as possible, which required diligent redirecting of my thoughts when they attempted to run wild.  But even after all that work, there was a moment after my warmup jog where I was about to scratch from the event entirely.  I had made up my mind that the race was going to be a disaster because it wasn’t possible to turn things around that quickly and I’d be better off not starting than pulling out half-way.

Scanning the field for Coach Rowland, I tried to find the right words to tell him my decision.  He was nowhere to be found.  Momentary panic.

Celebrating with a roaring crowd

The atmosphere was unmatched! Fireworks went off when I crossed the line and the crowd was incredible! Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images Europe

Then I had a vivid memory of 2007 at this same competition..I got this exact same feeling  to scratch the event after the warmup.  But in the end, I took the pressure off, decided to just “do my best,” and I won the damn thing!  This memory brought a smile to my face just as Rowland emerged from wherever he was hiding.  I ran up to him, said something like “holy hell I’m nervous,” hugged him quickly, shrugged and smiled, and ran off to the final call room.  He might have said some final words of wisdom but I didn’t hear anything else until the crowd roared on my way to the finish line.

Wow.  Double wow.

When I finally got a chance to come home after drug testing, I got online and my computer almost exploded.  The number of people who tweeted and facebooked and commented genuine excitement was so overwhelming, I cried.  Your support blows my mind.  Thank you.

How the Turnaround Happened

Going from 15:27 to 15:00 in eight days had nothing to do with last minute workouts.  There were five main factors that made it possible:

  1. Dr. Lorenzo at Pure Sports Medicine discovered I had a stomach ulcer, which was causing my cramps. Diet adjustments and stomach acid control fixed 80% of it.
  2. Neil Black at UKA and Alex Fugalo at Beyond Health found that my diaphragm and intercostal muscles (between all my ribs, front and back) on the right side had reacted into a tight wad of grizzle, (probably as a result of having an ulcer for several months and running through massive pain for so long.) “Magic Hands” Jon Murray of OTCE spent every day on the case, loosening me up so I could race cramp free.
  3. Nike and OTC Elite helped me address the problem logically and quickly, and financially supported me through it. I was an emotional, over-reactive mess, so outsourcing human logic helped dramatically.
  4. As the physical stuff starting coming around, I had to get my mind back on board to BELIEVE again, which required using all my tools (I wore a hole in my “Strong” shirt), literally talking to myself in the mirror and on all my runs, and working things through with my trusted peeps, (special thanks to AJam, Skip, Bridget and Jesse for the long talks, and Coach Rowland and my sports psych for turning the last few critical screws that kept my head from popping off.)
  5. Getting in the right race makes all the difference. Ian Stewart, the race director of Crystal Palace, put together a field of evenly matched women ready to make breakthroughs, and we did. If every endurance race is set up for a world record, not only does it get boring to watch, but you lose depth in the events because capable athletes can’t make intermediate steps towards the highest levels.

My Favorite Reports

The coverage of the event was fantastic, so I’ll direct you to my favorite links that tell the story better than I can.

I still haven’t watched the short highlight video from Universal Sports because the link won’t work in the UK, but it made my sister cry and gave Jesse goosebumps.  Its a short one.  Check it out here if the embedded video doesn’t work. Or maybe here for Europe?

Helen and I after the race

I'm a fan of Helen Clitheroe, who had a huge breakthrough as well. Photo: Getty Images

Ryan Fenton of Flotrack (an excellent summarizer by the way) wrote an article called “Comeback of the Year?” which sheds some light on why my reaction to winning involved spraying Lucozade sports drink in the air like Old Faithful, and stopping to bow (bow?!) to the incredibly enthusiastic British audience on my victory lap. Check it out here.

Runnersworld (online) points out the drama of quick turnarounds in their weekly race report (with some excellent vocabulary I might add). Those guys compile the relevant happenings in our sport in a subscription-worthy manner. Props.

And finally, Flotrack was on site to catch a post-race interview:

Watch more video of London Diamond League – Aviva London Grand Prix 2011 on flotrack.org

What Happens Now?

I’ve already celebrated, hard, and just about recovered from both the race and the celebration, so now I wait.  Because I finished so far back at USA’s, there are a lot of people who can take the open spot at Worlds before me.  There is a chance I could go to Daegu for the World Championships if like 23 things fall into place at once, but none of them are in my control.  I delayed my flight back to the USA for a week to let the chips fall where they may.

The Contest Winners!

And finally, I’m happy to announce the winners of the “race-time-guessing-thingee” games. Thanks for participating!

Stockholm winner: Armando from Edinburgh
With me tweeting and blog-gloating about all my hard training in Font Romeu, all your guesses for Stockholm were very generous, (thank you for the confidence!) but Antonio was the least optimistic so he wins. His prize was supposed to be a postcard from Stockholm, but I’m throwing in some free Picky Bars from my special Europe stash as well.

candy

A little taste of England

London winner:  Matthew from California
There were many close ones, but this guy was right on the money! His prize is a sizable stash of English sweets you can’t get at home (some mouth-watering, and some silly looking) and a signed bib number from the race. Wahoo!

Man I love contests.