A Season of Change

Fall is here, and change is in the air! Leaves are spiraling down from trees, the temperature is quickly dropping, and the Christmas lights are out! It feels like just yesterday it was summer, especially because a month and a half ago I was in Florida, and it was! Yet here I am, snuggled up in my Oiselle French fleece and Lux Layer Long Sleeve, sipping on peppermint tea, half expecting some snow to start falling. 

It’s been over a month since I moved, but I’m still adjusting to all of the changes. It hasn’t all been easy, but I’m learning a lot of useful lessons every day. You see, as runners, we are constantly dealing with many changes. Whether its going from one season to the next, changing your race strategy or your training methods, its a necessity for any good runner to be resilient and prepared for upcoming changes. Sometimes change is good, sometimes its not, but overall change always leads to growth. My first few weeks here definitely took some adjusting, but overall I was quite satisfied to how quickly I adjusted to my new training.

Teammate Rebeka Stowe and I say “Hello NYC!”

A few weeks ago I ran the NYRR Dash to the Finish 5k. This being my first race as a professional, and first elite road 5k, I went into it with no real expectations and just hoped to get a gage of what fitness level I was. Before the race I was mostly just excited, rather than nervous. I was entered in a race full of Olympians, World Championship runners and former NCAA Champs; (quite different from my usual first meet in fall where I pretty much tempo-ed a low-key XC race in which us FSU girls could easily perfect score!) Yet for some reason, I felt so relaxed going into this race, perhaps because it is still the early season and this race was just my starting point.

Whatever the reason, I found myself almost too relaxed when it came to my pre-race routine, and that brings me to another one of the changes I am learning to deal with: organization. In college, my coach had everything organized to a tee, with a color-coded, minute-by-minute itinerary when we travelled to a race. However, now that I’m a professional, its up to me to remind myself to wake up early and do a shakeout in the dark, or to make sure I start my warm-up on time. At the Dash to the Finish, I tried to mimic everything I would do if I was back at FSU, following a strict pre-race regiment. However, left to my own devices, and somewhat in awe of everything that was going on around me, I ended up making several rookie mistakes. Because there was strict security at the race (which I am thankful for) we were only allowed to carry a clear plastic bag and no backpack. Despite laying everything out the night before, I still managed to walk out the door with an empty water bottle and leaving my coffee (my life-blood) on the hotel counter. I also didn’t give myself enough time that morning to do my usual pre-race routine which involves painting my nails and straightening my hair (really important for running fast, huh?) Instead of freaking out and opting to pull a “Violah Lagat” (and paint my nails in the bathroom stall when I get to my race) I decided perhaps this was just what I needed to stop my silly superstitions and wake up to the fact that your hair or your nails has absolutely nothing to do with your speed.

Despite all of these silly mishaps, once I got in the race I felt right at home and even though it had been awhile since I’d raced, I immediately realized I was more fit than I gave myself credit. The first mile felt relaxed, almost like it was just a workout, but I decided to run smart and save some for the later parts. It definitely got tougher mid-race, but the excitement of being in NYC, wearing Oiselle and hearing people cheer for me gave me the energy I needed. Before I knew it I was nearing the finish clock and I saw 15:?? and I thought, “OMG I can PR!” so I started sprinting with all of my might (something I really haven’t been doing since I hurt my hamstring). As I neared the clock it dawned on me, “Oh no, that’s not the finish!” Turns out it was actually the 26 mile mark since this was the NYC marathon course, and that meant I had just kicked .2 miles too early. On top of that, that little .2 was uphill, so I had to dig deep and give everything I had to find the strength to sprint a little further. All I remember was thinking, “Gosh, if the marathoners can sprint through this after 26 miles I can do it after a lousy 3!”

Oiselle Bird Brunch before the NYC Marathon

I crossed the line in 16:15, which is only 20s off my PR. It was definitely a confidence booster to finish 10th in such an elite field of women, and the energy and excitement of the race made me even more pumped for the season ahead. NYRR did an awesome job organizing the event and I got to meet several elite runners from all over.  After the race, Lauren Penney and I rushed off to join a group of Oiselle runners and employees for brunch. It was a lot of fun talking to several Oiselle marathoners as they prepared for the big day ahead. That night I stayed in the city with my best friend and we shared a scenic long run by the river before we headed to watch the finish of the NYC Marathon live. Overall, a super fun weekend and I couldn’t have asked for a better first-race on the professional scene!

That brings me to part two of adjusting to change: Not all change is good.

After coming off the high from NYC, I returned to practice with the team and got in a few quality workouts that continued to boost my confidence. I began to get anxious, with it being November and all I wanted to hop right in another race or get in a workout that would leave me lying on the ground gasping for breath (because that’s how November always was in the NCAA). Instead, I ended up getting myself into another “minor-setback” as I like to call it. Whether it’s because I changed one little thing in my training, or a pure coincidence, I ended up hurting my foot and sitting out the last few practices. Without going into great detail of what happened, I have just one tid-bit of advice, “If it is working, don’t change it!”

So that brings me to the sum of my message for today, which happens to be on the topic of change.
Change isn’t always easy. Change can be good. Change can also be bad, so you have to be cautious. But no matter who you are or what you’re going through in life, you cannot stop the inevitable reality of change! Lately I’ve had to change my training completely. I went from running one of my best weeks of training to spending every day now in the pool. I don’t particularly enjoy having to cross-train, and especially now that the temperature is dropping outside and they don’t seem to be adding heat to the pool! But the fact is, I can’t change the weather, or the fact that my body can only heal so fast, and so I have to change my attitude. Through good times like my weekend in NYC, to the low points like the injury I’m dealing with now, the one thing I’ve realized gets me through it all is my faith. I know that when I continually rely on God for support I always have what I need…#iLackNothing! Hebrews 13:8 reminds us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” So no matter what kind of change life brings you, always remember to remain focused on what is true, lasting and unchanging!

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