Monday, August 17, 2009

t minus two days to go

i hope you watched the 100m final last night. if you've ever gotten chills from an athletic performance, this one will make your goosebumps look like a tickled gosling. usain bolt crushed the world record and tyson gay dominated the american record (and still got second). it was the most awesome display of athleticism i've ever witnessed. if that doesn't get you fired up, i'm pretty sure you're dead.
that's kind of the way of it around here. oh look, there goes another world record. oh look, there goes another american record. it's incredible to be around such greatness. as i speak bekele just made the best 10000m runners in the world look like children playing tag on a playground.
i've been to the practice track twice. and met some really awesome people and talents. yesterday dwight phillips and i ran into each other some 20 times throughout the day, no joke. it actually was becoming a joke...i claimed he was stalking me and he vice versa. who is dwight phillips you ask? oh, only a three time world champion long jumper. no big deal. obviously he wasn't stalking me!!!
the reason i give such an example is what an inspiration it is to be around such HUMBLE athletes and what an experience it is to be among a level of excellence and an expectation of such excellence. as an american athlete you are expected to make a final, you are expected to represent, and you are expected to give it EVERYTHING. there is nothing less. as they say, you represent the best team in the world.
with all that being said, i have my prelim on wednesday morning. my body is struggling a bit at the moment with my back and hamstring tight and sore. but i'm confident that when that gun goes off, all the pain and discomfort will slide off my back, into my wind trail, and be left as dust on the track.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

a quick berlin overview

so i'm here.
arrived on saturday after many, many, many hours of travel and delays. somehow my bags made it to berlin before i did. AND didn't get lost. that's a story the airlines don't often report...
there are two hotels in berlin that house the athletes and all their support staff. we are in the estrel hotel which has over 1000 rooms, a concert hall, 4 restaurants, and a spa. compared to my accommodations in belgium, i am living in the lap of luxury.
there is a ton of energy in the air, there are tvs everywhere showing the meet and even a projector in the eating hall as big as a movie theater screen.
we all eat in the same common area and the food is actually really good. there are cooks preparing as you serve and the hall is open intermittendently from 6am to 11:30pm. your only excuse for underperforming is overeating!
the usa staff has a wing in the hotel with anything and everything you could possibly need. doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists, a sports psychologist, computers, more tvs, games, an ice bath, food, snacks, drinks, everything you could want/!
i have been utlizing these services to the fullest as i try and get my sciatic nerve and si joint issues under control for wednesday's prelim.
there are buses every 20 minutes to the olympic stadium and buses every 30 minutes to the practice track.
security is tight. no one is allowed to enter the hotel unless you are an accredited athlete and/or staff member or coach. my agent wasn't allowed in the door yesterday!
there is a forest about a ten minute jog from here, beautiful trails that eventually lead you to the spree river for more paths to run along.
a three minute walk will also bring you to the ring which is the metro line that does a full circle around the city. you can then connect to any other metro line for quick access to the downtown. best part is it's free for the week to all athletes.
i'll be sure to post some pictures later. i'm heading to the practice track this afternoon for a run and some strides. last workout tomorrow!

it's been a while...

my apologies for the long lag between this entry and the last. it's been a crazy few weeks of training, preparing, and resting (of all the terrible things to do!). i'll fill you in on a couple of key workouts that have prepared me for wednesday's race, here in berlin!

*4x1200m- 3:49 cutting down to 3:32
*3200m time trial w/pace changes- goal to complete the pace changes 76-76-72-76-76-72-76-76 = 10:00. actual overall time 9:48 with 400m pick-ups at 71 and 69 with in between quarters well under pace.
*4x800m/300m- 2:32/54 cutting down to 2:15/48 w/quicker pace jog for 300m between

there were a few other workouts in there, but you get the idea. despite the dreadful heat and humidity, i've had a solid few weeks of training in dc. a quick shout-out to a few of my training partners that paced me through: mcgovern, duffy, slicko, drath, barresi, and even farley for the few recovery runs he dragged me through. thank you guys.

a few people asked me why i returned from belgium instead of staying in europe like most others to prepare for worlds. that was a decision i wavered on for a few days, but i now see that returning home was my best bet to prepare physically and emotionally. i needed to get back to basics, back with my friends and family, and back with coach. as i sit here in berlin, i feel recovered, prepared, and excited to get out there on wednesday. being away from my familiar surroundings for too long without the same support system i have back home would have been difficult. thanks to everyone who kept me busy and motivated these last few weeks.
i hope i make you proud on wednesday (and maybe even saturday).

Sunday, July 26, 2009

makin it easy.

"own 35 julie, you have to own it or you're screwed."
another saturday, another morning workout. but the track felt different this time. maybe my excitement for worlds, maybe the dawn of a new realm of pain-free running, maybe my stride feeling easy again. just me and coach and a medium hard workout.
july 25: 6 miles, 8x200 in 35s w/100 rest, 1/2 mile jog, 10x200 in 35s w/100 rest, cool-down.
many runners believe the most difficult task in running is running fast. not true. the most difficult task in competition is running smart. you have to know your body, know your fitness, and gauge where you're at on race day. and then you have to run smart. and then you have to run fast.
this particular workout was designed to force me to commit 71 second pace to memory and more importantly to my stride. a 33 in a race instead of 35 for a few 200's will cost you the race by lap 9 or 10. you have to know this pace. you have to make it feel easy. you have to stride it. you have to commit it. and you have to own it.
this is much more difficult said then done. especially when coach is running across the infield for every single 10th of a second split (i've never seen him do this) and hounding me and riding me for a 34.3 instead of a 35.5.
"i know you can run faster, that's not the point."
it feels good to be back and it feels good to be feeling good. coach has written the formula (on a notepad and not a napkin) and it's exciting to see it in writing:
july 25...august 1...august 8...august 19...
5000m trial world championships
back to the day to day grind:
july 27th: long run, 15-16 miles.

Friday, July 24, 2009

bring on the humidity

i'm back.
dc va bound, i started my trek early wednesday morning after an evening filled with 1500s, friends, and a celebration toast or two. what successful trip is rightfully ended without a little fun? none of mine, that's for sure.
the 1500 was solid, another personal best, but not quite as fast as i feel fit. it was one of those races where you are satisfied, but completely unsatisfied with the result. i have struggled the last four months with sciatic nerve issues in my back through my back leg and it was flared the evening of the gent 1500m. it doesn't sideline you, it simply caps your capability and limits your mobility. we all struggle with nagging injuries, novice to professional, riding that fine line between insignificant and chronic. this nuisance will have to remain at bay for a few more weeks...
i'm berlin bound.
so bring on the humidity...
belgium's weather was perfect for training: at most 80 degrees with very little humidity. why would i want to train in perfect conditions? when are the conditions ever perfect on race day? why would i want the next three weeks to be easy? i'm being facetious.
i'm back to dc and va to train because this is my home, my coach, my support system, my bed, my comfort zone. if i want to get my mind right, i know where i need to be. i'm sorry to the mosquitoes i befriended that i will no longer be in the astrid house for meals...
3 weeks till my plane departs.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Is the number 13 an unlucky or a lucky number?
Wikipedia (always a reliable source) tells me that 13 has been coined an unlucky numbers since the early 1900s (I believe Jason's victims would all agree), Apollo 13 another example and the always missing 13th floor.
In Christianity the number 13 signifies the number of Apostles (12+Paul) and 13 participants at the last supper. There were 13 stars and stripes in the original American flag. In Mandarin, 13 can mean 'definitely vibrant' or 'assured growth'.
Today is my last day in Belgium. sigh...
It is also my 13th full day here. My 13th full day with a race planted right on the tail end. Lets hope 13 in the religion of running signifies luck, strength, and fast times...
1500m tonight- 8:20pm
Gent, Belgium

Sunday, July 19, 2009

gent to leuven to heusden to leuven to gent to gentfestival

It's been a busy 36 hours!
Yesterday I went to the Heusden meet as a spectator. It feels so good to spectate when you are all healthy. We all know what it feels like to spectate when you are injured or sick, but when you're healthy you can ACTUALLY ENJOY watching the meet (without feeling jealous).
It was incredible...incredible races, incredible camaraderie, tons of excitement, making new friends, and catching up with old friends. Check out some of the pictures. This is what a track meet SHOULD be like: BEER, WINE, a coffee shop, a bar, a french fry stand, a sausage and hamburger stand, people in lawn chairs, in tents, and in stands. The stadium was filled to capacity, so exciting!
We've traveled with the same crew to each meet. The bus picks up at our base in Gent, then we pick up the crew and Leuven, then onto whichever meet we are competing. It's been awesome hanging out with everyone between the two camps and cheering for each other at the meets. The American team is LOOKING GOOD!!!
Today was yet another relaxing day. Slept in, hung out, napped...finally got out of bed at noon. Went for a 60 min run. Met up with a friend in Gent Centrum to check out the festival. So many street performers, vendors, bands, entertainment, drinking, etc. The whole festival is about a mile square, it's incredible and will be going on through next weekend. The whole city is in attendance. I rode "townie" bikes all around Gent and around some of the parks and such. It was so wonderful, the energy in the city is incredible.
Relaxing evening. Time to get back into race mode. 1500m here in Gent on Tuesday. Pulling for another PR... is that greedy?

Friday, July 17, 2009

another recovery day, another day zzzzzzz.

who can beat sleeping in, hanging around the dorms, a slow run, a late lunch, a mid-afternoon nap, a cappuccino guzzle, a euro shopping trek, a late evening second run, an in-dorm dinner, and a large group crowded around a computer to watch the Paris Golden League? can i live this life every day? please? someone?
back to basics, in case you are interested in the set-up here. we call it the base. i live in a dorm. my room has a single bed, a sink, and a desk. there are no screens on the windows so every morning i wake up with at least 10 new mosquito bites. the bathrooms are co-ed, the showers are co-ed. there is one kitchen on every floor and if you're lucky and know how to work the system, you can get a trace of internet on the rooftop lounge. there is grocery store next door and the university of gent is across the street. we are in a residential section of town. a ten minute tram ride away takes you to the city centrum. that's where my pictures are from. it's absolutely beautiful and hopping with people, canals, shops, cafes, etc. gent festival begins tomorrow and they've been setting up for days. there are tons of parties and celebrations planned.
the track is exactly a 20 minute run from our dorm. it's perfect. there is an outdoor track, an indoor track, a weight room, a lake, a beach, and tons of wood chip trails. the setup is perfect. oh, and did i mention there are bars at every outdoor track? yes, athletics competitions are social events in europe. there are full indoor and outdoor bars at all the meets. they are usually operating during practice hours too. when will the us understand that the key to making track popular is alcohol?
tomorrow i will workout and then head to heusden to watch some races. my next race is a 1500m here in gent and then i will head home.

to train for worlds.
(i am pinching myself)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

did it, done.

well, my lovely blogging community, i've done what i said i would do. not quite the 15:09 in my dreams, although that is still my dream. one step closer: 15:21 and a B standard. which means... i am heading to berlin next month. i'm in shock, i'm celebrating, i'm planning, and i'm prepping for a big month of workouts ahead. stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

5000m Eve

the day before a race is always a different day. you wake up with ease of mind knowing it's not "the day," but it's the day before and your thoughts and energy begin to gravitate toward the inevitable day to come.
on my run today, i let my mind relax and open itself to the possibility of running the "B" standard, of even running the "A" standard. how is it possible that the african women are splitting 5K of their 10K faster than i can pr in a single 5K? how am i not 1000% sure that i will raise hell tomorrow night? afterall, won't it be two more years of training until i am again at this same intersection? lucky enough to be in a position to chase a standard for the world championship team?
my mind wanders more until i am envisioning myself making small and scary decisions during the race, "keep hanging on", when deep pits of doubt start eating at me and i find myself at another mental crossroad where i decide to keep going, keep pushing, keep hurting. until i finally slip deeper into this dream and there i am, watching myself cross the line in 15:09. i collapse to the ground in joy and exhaustion and kiss the sky with such exhilaration, my body covered in sweat and the evening rain. ahhhh it's a dream...
so how do i make the connection between what is real, what is possible, what is out of reach, and what is simply a dream?
enough thinking. enough dreaming.
time for bed. time for tomorrow.

Monday, July 13, 2009

my americanjamaicancanadianbelgian post

i've come to love the simplicity of my day. what to do today? run? eat? nap? drink kaffe? eat again? read some? run again? wow, my day is over. that was rough!

i have nothing much to write today. i will post pictures from yesterday instead.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

day five, what happened in the beginning?

here we go. day five. not one, two, three, or four. i almost burst into tears upon hearing the news: "no internet, only for students." WHAT? all those that know me know me as the texting, gchatting, emailing queen. trying not to be rude, but yeah, sometimes it's in awkward moments (sorry friends). now i'm in a foreign country with no phone? text? email?
quiet. this is what coach has been preaching about. "turn your phone off, disconnect, reconnect." i'm in gent, belgium.
i was running through the streets on day two and i started to reconnect. now, side note: when you haven't reconnected in a while, it kind of takes you by surprise. i'm not thinking about anyone else. i'm thinking about me. no drama, no friend's drama, no family drama, no issues, no relationships, no noise.
i spent the first few days reading, wandering, thinking, sleeping, eating, and running solo. is this the isolation coach was talking about?
my first race was yesterday, a 1500m in kortrijk, belgium. in retrospect i think i was more excited about seeing familiar faces than i was about racing. it felt so good to see my fellow competition that i forgot i wanted to kick it to 'em on the track.
the race came, the race went, i never got into it. lets chalk that one up to a "rust-buster"...
wednesday we dance.

wednesday, july 15th
liege, belgium.