Pictures coming soon…

Two major events happened today that told me it can’t possibly be June 11th.

1.  It rained

2. I ran my season opener on the track.

What kind of alternative universe is it where I don’t put spikes on until now?  I mean seriously, people.  I am supposed to be a capital P Professional runner for Pete’s sake.

And since it is in fact June 11th, that means this first race of 2011 will be my ONLY race before the USA Championships.  I’ve got one chance to experiment with my pre-race routine!  This is what was going on in my head:

What the hell do I do the day before a race again?  Lay around, is it?  Uh, movie?

Well, I’m in my house rather than a hotel since the race is local so does that mean I shouldn’t do laundry or clean up?

I hardly trained the last two days so I have lots of energy, and now I REALLY want to clean the entire house.  Just a little bit of dusting and sweeping, and a touch of mopping.  Let me just pull out the oven here…and oh my, the outside of the garbage bins are a bit grotty.

Should I be eating in a restaurant the night before my race, or is it ok to cook my own dinner? I won’t be able to cook my dinner at most races…but I have this great buffalo meat in the fridge that is going to go bad and…wow the fridge could use a good cleaning too. I know! I’ll invite four friends over for dinner last minute and cook buffalo burgers for everyone!  That sounds relaxing!

I’d like to say that none of those things really happened: the cleaning, the dinner party…but they did.  And that, my friends, is why I am not staying in my own house before the USA Championships, even though the race is two miles from my front door.  No self-control.

The thing is, last night’s last minute buffalo burger party ended up being an AMAZING night.  We had James Vincent McMorrow playing in the background while we made love to our dinners the way only runners do, and then we followed that up with the most EPIC game of UNO ever.  Yes, UNO.  People still play that game.

The game took over an hour and a half, and Chris Thompson (Thommo) was on fire with the comedic commentary, leaving us in absolute stitches the entire time.  At one point I seriously started getting pissed off at him because my abs were getting so sore from laughing; I needed my core for the next day’s race!  Ben Bruce had to play referree, because in our childish laugh-athon, we were acting like a bunch of drunks who forgot the rules to a drinking game.  Eventually, someone won (thank God) and everyone could go home at nearly 11:00. I fell asleep reading within minutes, happy as could be.

This morning, I really did try to simulate my pre-race schedule.  Here’s a bullet list of what the plan was, and in parenthesis the result:

  • Breakfast (Boom)
  • Relax (or pay a bunch of bills)
  • Do a shakeout to the track, and put my spikes on for a few strides (or get there and realize you are locked out of the track and do your strides into oncoming traffic)
  • Go get a nice deli sandwich (or drive there and realize you forgot your wallet, go back home and try again).
  • Shower, shave, and primp with the blow dryer and some makeup so I feel like a sexy beast (or take a quickie due to the wallet mishap, forget the primping all together, and throw my uniform on only to get knocked out by the stink of it: oops, forgot to wash it.)
  • Get to the bus on time to go to Portland (nailed it).
  • Do my full “Champions Warmup” routine for the first time since August (PA-DOW!)
  • Keep the nerves under control (or be so relaxed that everyone keeps commenting on how much I’m yawning).
  • Have fun being competitive and try to hang on!  (Or lead the entire way and win.)

The race itself felt amazing; I was strong the entire way, and when I made a move only 300 meters into the race to pick up the pace, nobody followed so I just kept rolling with it.  I ended up about 5 or 6 seconds ahead by the finish which was a total shock!  4:14 was the time, which is pretty typical for me for a season opener.  But this time I had way less training, it felt easier, and I did the work myself.  Very encouraging.

The takeaways?  UNO is a great way to prepare for a race, as is a last minute dinner party.  The OCD cleaning spree is only temporary, as I destroyed my house within minutes of getting home from the race tonight.  Oh yeah, and in 10 weeks of training after 12 weeks off, I’ve managed to pull together a pretty good start to the 2011 season.

I’m not ready to light the world on fire at USA’s, but I can honestly say I’m not scared of it.  I might go so far as to say I’m looking forward to it even, but you better ask me at the end of next week.  I’ve got 2 more hard track sessions between now and the 24th to impact my performance at USA’s: Wednesday and Saturday. Then, I taper, and…

It is what it is.