At the close of the 2011 calendar year, the upcoming (and now imminent) Olympic Trials provided the impetus for me to take some serious inventory of the way in which I was preparing on a daily, seasonally and long term basis in my pursuits as a professional runner. As many people connected to my career are aware, I made the difficult decision to scale back my assistant coaching role at UC Davis, where I spent five years as a student-athlete before joining the staff in my first post-collegiate year. When I began to inform people of my decision, some simply assumed that I was going to enjoy a greater degree of ‘free time’ in my schedule. In reality, while my schedule has taken on a less hectic nature, I have also committed myself to a far more structured and predictable agenda with respect to training sessions, physio, massage and other elements integral to successful and healthy running. In addition, the decreased demands on both my time and energy in the absence of ‘part time’ coaching have permitted me to travel to competition and training opportunities without feeling torn about what I’m missing, and my two separate stints at altitude thus far in 2012 stand as pivotal components in my training cycles this year.

During a short break between competitive dates this season, I recently spent two and half weeks in Tahoe for a short altitude camp before descending to spend the remainder of the month in Oregon, where I will execute final preparations for the Trials. My first week in the Northstar area overlapped with members of the Bay Area Track Club's altitude stay, and I was able to join Magdalena Lewy-Boulet and other memebers of the group for runs and gym sessions. Magda is a wonderful resource to have both at altitude and within the professional running world in general. She has included many altitude camps in the Tahoe area over the years, and as a veteran and accomplished female distance runner her experience and insight into the sport remains unparalleled.

Overall my training during this most recent altitude camp went very well. One of the benefits of training in Tahoe is the fact that it is easy to descend to lower elevations to get in track workouts without the effect of oxygen deprivation. In a half hour drive I could be at 4000 feet on the track at the University of Nevada, Reno, and an hour’s drive put me at 1500 feet on the track at Placer High School in Auburn. Auburn is right in between Sacramento and Tahoe, making it an ideal location to meet my coach, Drew Wartenburg for track work and breakfast at Awful Annie’s afterward.

I made my definitive descent from Tahoe down on Wednesday, June 6 to compete at the Portland Track Festival, where I have tuned up for USA’s in 2010 and 2011 as well. Craig Rice does a great job putting together a meet that features a wide array of events and levels of competition, including athletes like myself that are looking to post marks or simply test fitness levels one last time before national competition. This year, Drew and I had devised a plan to simulate the physical and mental rigors of racing rounds, a format that I wanted to have rehearsed in advance of the 5000m prelims and finals at the Trials. On Friday night I paced the 10k before returning to the track on Saturday evening to race the 1500m without being fresh. It made for a good blend of strength and speed work over the weekend and left me feeling confident about my ability to close a race on heavy legs. I also enjoyed the chance to be part of an evening that saw fellow runners like Rebecca Donaghue, Addie Bracy and Sarah Porter notch their trials qualifiers and punch their tickets to Eugene!

From Portland I made my way south to Corvallis, where I will spend the next two weeks making my final preparations before the Olympic Trials. There isn't much work left to be done, which is a good thing. It's been a three year project, tranforming myself from the athlete I was when I graduated college to the athlete I am today. I have loved the journey that has brought to the place I am now. The only thing left is to get to the starting line on June 25th and 28th, execute what I have prepared and visualized and then let my performance dictate the next phase of my ongoing adventure.