Houston Here I Come!

I'm just a few days away from my first race of 2013, the Aramco Houston half marathon, and I'm extremely excited and anxious to get on that start line! Much has changed since I raced in London, but I have been working hard and I'm looking forward to testing myself against a stellar field on Sunday.

These past few months have been full of changes for me. I am still a Nike athlete, but I am no longer living and training in Portland as a part of the Oregon Track Club. In September, I made the very difficult decision to leave Jerry Schumacher's training group in Portland, move back to my home state of Iowa, and work with my former college coach, Corey Ihmels. The support of Nike, Jerry, the entire OTC crew, Corey, and the Iowa State Athletic Department has made a very big change feel more manageable and for that I am extremely grateful.

Obviously, with a coaching change comes a training change. After taking two weeks completely off of running in September (conveniently timed to include a 30-hour cross-country drive with me, my husband, dog, and about 20 boxes shoved into our VW) I began a 4 week build-up to get back to full mileage (around 90-95 a week). I basically tinkered with my routine to fit my new life and surroundings. My husband and I moved to Des Moines, IA which is about 40 minutes south of Ames, so I would do most of my training in Des Moines in the mornings, but also spend some afternoons and weekends in Ames as a volunteer assistant coach with the Iowa State cross country team. I was also able to tag along on some of the meet trips, which was a lot of fun during a training phase where work-outs were few and far between and day to day training was pretty dull.

During this time, Ihmels and I met to discuss the specifics of my training plan and goals for the year. We talked about how when I left Iowa State two years ago, the two of us were very in tune to what one another was thinking in terms of training and racing. At first, it seems like this new transition should be very simple- look at what made me successful in the past and repeat. However, two years changes many things, so we talked about being aware that it may not click right away and that this year, patience would be key. We discussed doing a half marathon at the end of a strength phase, and the Houston half is a flat, fast race that fit perfectly into the schedule. January 13, 2012 was circled on the calendar and the real training began.

Once I reached full mileage, I started working out twice a week with a long run every week. Those first workouts were both exciting and terrifying. I was excited to start doing challenging sessions, but I had no idea of my fitness level or how the coach/athlete dynamic would work after so much time apart. Fortunately, I was worrying for no reason. Throughout this whole build-up, I've been pleasantly surprised with how easy it has been to transition back into a coaching situation and training schedule that I was away from for so long. I have found consistency and routine in my training and schedule and have been able to put together 16 weeks of uninterrupted, hard work. I feel like I have not only had great preparation for this half, but have completed a base phase that, later on, my track season will benefit from as well.

I've only done one half marathon- a Rock-n-Roll half in Miami a little over a year ago. The event was awesome (Pit Bull had a concert on the beach afterwards) but my performance was not. I'm looking forward to Houston and having another go at a distance that is relatively new to me. I'm also hoping to gain experience racing on the roads in general. I'm very comfortable running around the track, but could use more practice road racing if I plan on moving to the marathon someday.

Overall, I feel very fit, prepared, and excited. I don't really know what I'm capable of accomplishing on Sunday, so I'm setting no limit and I'm ready to take a risk. No matter what happens, I will walk away from the race with more experience, new knowledge, and more excitement for the future of 2013!