SMACK! At The Races: World-Class Fields, Personal Bests and Fast Finishes
Spring racing season is here and all of the SMACKANISTAS have important competitions coming up! This weekend Natasha, Morgan and Eli laced up, toed the line and ran hard to earn impressive results!
Natasha competed in the IAAf World Cross-Country Championships in Guiyang, China with Team Canada where she placed an impressive 60th overall!
Since cross-country is more about position, team competition and challenging courses explain to us how the race played out and how you finished:
The women’s team finished 10th overall with great competition from teams in Africa. My race went okay—not exactly what I wanted, but a good opportunity to push myself on the world stage. The course was unlike any cross-country course I have ever run and was carved into a large hill, where dips and hills were added throughout the course to make each loop more challenging. There were a total of 6 obstacles in each 2km loop, which made me dig deep mentally. Since the race was also at altitude, it was important to not put myself into too much debt in the beginning. I got out hard, and positioned myself, passing people each lap.
Describe what it felt like to compete and represent Canada on the world stage?
It was amazing to see such a grand starting line at the course, and it definitely reiterated that we were at the highest level of competition. I am honored to represent Canada on the National Team, and was proud to challenge myself on a difficult course with amazing teammates by my side.
What was the coolest thing you saw in China?
We had the opportunity to visit a temple after a training session on one of the days. We climbed up and were able to see an amazing view of Guiyang from the temple, and a plenty of monkeys that guarded the place! These monkeys were really aggressive, and actually stole food from tourists’ bags!
Did you eat anything unusual or super delicious?
I got to try a fruit that I had never had before, called “Pitaya.” It tastes similar to kiwi, but more exotic! (See photo below)
Your travel took 2 days each way, what SMACK! Media client products, recovery tricks and tools did you use to get through that?
The travel to China is long, but I made sure to pack plenty of fruits, seeds, and vegetables with me so that I could get the nutrition that I needed. There were plenty of runs done outside of airports, which helped to break up the long layovers, and feel re-energized. Also, in terms of travel recovery, using the MarcPro in flight is an amazing use of technology. To top it off, being able to roll out my feet in the hotel room with the TriggerPoint NANO was essential, since most of the training surfaces were harder than what we usually train on. And finally, traveling with my husband, Marco, really made a difference, as he made me laugh and kept me calm throughout the travel. My dad was also there to watch me race. He had a business trip in Malaysia, and was able to pop over to see my race and cheer me on!
On Friday night Morgan competed in the Aztec Invitation 1500 at San Diego State University where she ran her second fastest time ever, 4:37!
What was the plan going into the race and how did it play out?
My goal was to compete well, “bust the rust” that comes with a track season opener so that I am fast and race ready for the next few track meets. The field got out fast so I stayed relaxed and confident tucked onto the back. The 1500, known as the metric mile, is 3 and 3/4 laps and when the bell rang for the final lap I knew I had a lot left in me. I ended up passing over half the field last 400 meters and most during the final 100 meters when I really turned on my sprint! I had no idea that I had run my second best time, 4:37, until a few minutes later because I was so immersed in the experience of pure racing and competition!
What do you like best about racing middle distance events on the track?
I love to run fast–when I am in the zone and sprinting all out it feels like I am flying. On top of that, I love that the focus is on racing itself and the pack of competitors stays relatively close together which is exciting. There are no obstacles and the course is always the same which means less to think about and you have a clear measurable marker of improvement. Short races do not beat you up at all like a marathon so you can race more frequently, and within minutes of finishing you feel good enough to celebrate with your friends and family!
How does it feel to come down from altitude (8,000 feet in Mammoth Lakes) to race at sea level?
Amazing! I have not been down from altitude since November and I felt the effects immediately. I woke up race morning feeling super energetic and I did not even need coffee which is rare for me. During races at sea level I find I can push harder at the point that things would start to get really tough at altitude. It’s still hard, but I can go faster in the process.
I’m racing another 1500 in LA this week and putting in a solid training block at altitude to get ready for a 5K at Mt. SAC which is one of the bests races of the year.
You mentioned having fun with your friends right away after you finished, what did you do?
My best friends Bria and Darius hung with me all day leading up to the race and then took me out for Mexican food and margaritas that night! The next morning Bria and I got up early to watch Eli’s boys race the Carlsbad 5000 kid’s race. We spent the entire weekend relaxing with the Carlson’s at their beach house and then paced Eli to a PR at Carlsbad 5000! It was perfect!
Eli signed up for Carlsbad 5000 at the last minute and not only conquered her dislike of shorter races, she ran away with a fresh new PR of 23:29!
How does it feel to run a PR?
Running a PR is so satisfying, especially when the race is fun and not a sufferfest. (Eli is pictured above with her personal “PR pace team” of Morgan and Bria Wetsch a professional marathoner for the Asics Mammoth Track Club.)
Before Carlsbad you said you weren’t a fan of short races. What are your thoughts now that it’s over?
I still don’t love short races (are you kidding me, they hurt!), and for some reason, my body and mind just enjoy the longer stuff. That said, it was so cool to have the race over with so quickly (it’s all I kept thinking about), and so satisfying to feel speed and turnover that I know will translate to the longer distance. The post race lung burn is also a nice badge of honor I’m not used to.
What inspired you to sign up for Carlsbad 5000 at the last minute?
Morgan coming out to race in San Diego the two days before the Carlsbad race was a big trigger for me to sign up. We’ve been talking about shorter races and I just, “talk about them,” so the fact that she would be here in person inspired me to say “GO!” Morgan also told me about the kids races, Junior Carlsbad, and I signed up my boys and I thought, “How can I have them do the race and then not sign up myself?”
What was the most challenging part of the race for you and how did you get through it?
The most challenging part of the race was getting to mile one and thinking, “Oh my gosh, this is hard. Do I really have two miles left of this?” I told myself to take one mile at a time, soaked it in and enjoyed the incredible scenery and people around me. I remembered Morgan telling me, “Running fast means running relaxed,” so I tried to stay relaxed and have fun. And I did!
Do you think you will race more 5Ks and 10Ks after this?
I will absolutely race more shorter races! They are time efficient but I also like the idea of setting time goals and getting faster so that my overall run pace for 1/2 marathons and marathons can come down. Morgan, Natasha, Joanna and Sara all tell me that speed workouts is where it’s at if I want to improve overall performance and times. I can tell it’s already working.
After a race weekend like this it is no wonder the entire SMACK! Media team is inspired and energized when Monday rolls around! Setting goals and SMACKING them down feels so good and will motivate you to do the same in everything you do! Look for Natasha, Morgan, Eli, Sara and Joanna to take on the 2015 goals they set for themselves at upcoming races!