I’ve been back in the United States for a little over a week now. My life has been all about getting back into routine and getting things together that had been neglected during my four weeks of vacation. Let me repeat; FOUR WEEKS!
 I had an incredible time. I loved getting to know the new/crazy/wonderful Australian family that I married into and I have to mention the scenery and food was ridiculous in all the most amazing ways!
 But now that I’m back, I have some work to do. I definitely was able to train while I was in Australia but it lacked the intensity that I’ve grown very used to. It’s surprising how running one or two moderate workouts and getting 60 miles a week can feel casual after years of progression through training.
It was refreshing to get that break but now that I’m home, I’m feeling more like myself! My muscles are sore, my feet ache, I have an insatiable appetite, I must have a nap to get through the day, and my life revolves around my next run. I love it! This is how my body should feel and this is how I know I’m getting better. Now things are as they should be!

USAs & Peachtree!

As my Winter/Spring/Summer 2014 racing season has come to a close, I thought it was only appropriate to write a little something about a whole lot of things. I started my year in Arizona with Oiselle’s Little Wing group and I think that experience set the tone for my entire year to this point.

This has been my second year out of college competition and I’ve grown a lot. I’ve committed myself fully to my running and I think it’s starting to show. That commitment started with a training trip on the other side of the country. I left my own home, husband, coach, and friends behind to spend a month with other strangers who also run.

I got some really great training in that didn’t show out right away indoors but came through the spring and the start of summer. I ran personal bests over the mile, 5k, and 10k! At the time of each of these performances they don’t seem like a great accomplishment because every time I step on the line for a big race, I want to and sometimes expect to run a best time. But looking back, it’s both encouraging and exciting!

Currently, I’m spending a restful week with my parents and my sister at her home near the beach in North Carolina. I flew straight here from Atlanta where I raced the Peachtree 10k which was the USA road 10k championship this year. I’ve been able to reflect on Peachtree and the USA track championships the past few days and I just have to say a few things about both.

USA’s on the track are always an incredible experience. Just being at a meet with the best American athletes brings so much excitement. Personally, my goal was to be top 8 in the 10k. I fell short by 2 spots and in the moment, I was pretty disappointed. I went back to the track the next day and watched other races and witnessed other competitions. It gave me a little perspective and I feel like I can be proud of my race. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted but it was a solid race and it’s not fair to let myself be disappointed in 10th.

So I flew through Friday night back to State College to get rested for Peachtree! I didn’t have a ton of expectation going into it. I knew it was a competitive field and I had just raced a 10k the week before. I had my goal of being top 12 but I was sort of setting myself up to have a “good experience” and just get to see what a competitive road championship was like. But I got 9th and ended up running quicker than I did on the track the week before! It’s nice to end this stretch of competitive races on a  positive note!

I also had an amazing time at the race! I have to thank the Atlanta Track Club for putting together such an incredible experience for all of the 60,000 runners, including the elite athletes. And lastly, I had a blast with Oiselle teammates. Support from other Oiselle athletes via email and twitter along with hanging out with Caitlin Comfort, Lauren Fleshman, and Mel Lawrence all weekend made this one of the best racing experiences I’ve had in a long time.

As I take my time off and look to the future (half-marathons!), I have to acknowledge one very big change. I will no longer be training under Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. She coached me all through college and now two years more. I owe so much to her, not just in my athletic performances but also in helping grow to the be person I am today. She’s moved on to be Director and Head Coach at the University of Tennessee and I wish her all the best! I know we will continue to stay in touch! She is someone who I will hold dearly in my heart forever.

Birds of Prey

So I’ve always had a thing for birds of prey. Every time I see a hawk perched by the side of the road I point and yell for everyone else to look! No one else usually cares.

You can’t even imagine my excitement to see one with some sort of animal in it’s mouth. I know it’s strange to be writing about predatory birds as a peace loving runner, but I like them!

Oiselle is all about “flyte,” but usually it is the sense of using running as a form of feeling fast and free. But let’s not forget about the birds who fight hard for their prize! The ones who feed on animals less fierce.

I’ve found that it’s easy to be polite about competition. A bird of prey doesn’t think less of a mouse or fish, it kills simply out of necessity and is grateful for its prey.

In running, I believe the competitive spirit relates well with these birds. Everyone is looking to fly, everyone wants to be the predator, and no one wants to be the prey.