Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pittsburgh 10 miler

This past weekend I was lucky enough to journey over to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to compete in the EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler! For me, race prep began the weekend before when I started to transition myself from PST to EST. That meant moving all of my meals up 20-30 minutes each day and waking up earlier and earlier, too. By Friday it was up at 4:45am after going to bed at 8:45pm the night before. Although slightly frustrating to my roommate (sorry, Jacquelyn), I did notice that it was easier to wake up on Saturday and Sunday mornings while I was on in Pittsburgh. Transitioning my meal times also helped tremendously too, no more digestive issues! So that was worth celebrating.

Three weeks before this race I had had two killer weeks of training. I felt great, I was training great, and it was all coming together. I bet you know what’s coming next in this story. Two miles into my 19 miler I felt a pull in my medial tendon behind my knee. It stuck around for the rest of the run, finally loosening up when I started my paced miles. But after the cool down, walking was hard. Two days off, and some swimming got me slowly back on grass but by that time my body was screaming at me, tightening up everywhere. My glutes and hips would not open up and by the next weekend I still had no relief. The pain was gone in my knee area but my nagging hamstring, hip, pelvis area was still not having it. I went to a chiropractor hoping for some help and he diagnosed me with Lower Cross Syndrome. The short version of this syndrome is that after my stress fracture, by glutes stopped firing correctly and my quads, hamstrings, and lower back were compensating the load. With that comes disaster. My hips are both shifted to the right and tipped forward so much that my hamstrings are constantly pulled to their maximum. So any time I stretch them (static, dynamic, or even during faster running workouts), I pull them more. This was great to find out, and I got a bit of instant relief but it’s more or less a strengthening and stretching process that is going to just take time. I was back moving fast last week and did 2x2 miles on the grass averaging 5:25 per mile for the first one and 5:28 for the second one. Thursday was a quick 200m speed tune up and on Friday the adventure began! I was hoping the week off wouldn’t affect my race too much but at that point I was just happy to be pain-free (ish) and heading to this awesome racing experience. The elite recruiter, Ryan Hogan, did a phenomenal job bringing in a competitive international field of athletes. I was going to toe the line with Sara Hall (that’s the only time I was anywhere near her, haha) and a number of other talented runners.

Friday I flew to Denver and then to Pittsburgh, arriving at 10:30pm EST. Some really helpful people from the Steel City Road Runners club picked two HTC Elite runners and me up and shuttled us to the host hotel. Saturday morning I got to do a quick 6 mile jaunt with Jon, Jon, and Gina and then joined Dennis for breakfast at the hotel. At packet pickup, I got to meet the announcer Tim Bomba, who turned out to be a Culver City resident (just south of UCLA) and an avid triathlete and ocean swimmer. We had many acquaintances in common and had loads to talk about. We got to grab lunch with Patrice and Dee, two directors of the race and two wonderful women excited about making runners and road racers into celebrities just like Lebron James. It was so exciting to meet them and discuss what we think it would take to make running a fan friendly sport! We finished off the night with a technical meeting about the course and then to a VIP dinner and Buca di Beppo with all of the athletes, coaches, and race officials. Before bed I got to take the Duquesne Incline up to the top of a hill overlooking the Pittsburgh downtown with one of the athletes I met at dinner, Sam Mueller. It was a spectacular view and the best way to end the day before the big race on Sunday morning.

At 5am Gina and I woke up and shuffled down to the Elite Athletes Hospitality Suite to grab coffee. We stretched, ate, and watched the Pittsburgh News until 6:40am (turns out there was a shooting and bridge closure on one of the bridges we were planning to race on, but everything was cleared before 5:30am). We did 3 miles warming up and back to the hotel for racing clothes and drills. The starting line was only 400m from the front door of the hotel, so we jogged over around 7:40 in time to get some strides in and hear the national anthem. It was about 38 degrees and calm at the start, which ended up feeling great. At 8am the gun went up and we were off.

            The field was loaded, and I was not surprised to see the lead pack of girls surge up with first incline leaving me behind. By the first mile (my split was 5:36) many of the first 6 or 7 women were out of sight around the many turns this course had. Miles 1 through 4 were basically all uphill and felt like much more of a challenge than I had expected. I was side by side with Gina through mile 4 and then as the hills continued I started to feel the stretching in my hamstrings transition from discomfort to pain. I eased back a bit. I was feeling tired and pained, but still tried to push across the two bridges around the fifth mile. The course then flattened out and was a straight shot from mile 8 to mile ten into the downtown area. Around mile 7 my pain was increasing and my mental strength was plummeting. I was now moving 6:15 pace which was extremely frustrating because I just know I have the ability to move that pace in tempo runs for 12+ miles. I just tried to maintain as I entered downtown and crossed the line at 61:32.
            So my thoughts on my race and my time? I’m not happy, really. I know I need to stop trying to push through this pain and really get myself back to 100 percent. The racecourse was beautiful and so well put together; I just wish I could have performed better. I am also frustrated that my first mile felt more tiring than I had expected and that I felt like I couldn’t maintain a pace that I am able to do mile repeats at. Why can I do 8 x mile repeats around 5:35/mile average but can’t maintain a sub-6 mile pace for more than five? I know that there is something I am either doing wrong in terms of race strategy or I’m not giving my body enough credit. I have had a couple of drastic changes to my life style, training, and diet that my body is coping with. I know it will take time for me to be able to put all of this work into motion, so I have to keep reminding myself to be patient. The big goal right now is my next big marathon and then the Olympic trials marathon. That’s where 100% health is going to be most critical.

            Another big realization I had this past week was during my viewing of the NYC Marathon. I gawked at the talented front pack day dreaming of being a part of that someday, when it hit me: those amazing women are mostly in their 30’s. I am 21 with a year of distance running under my belt. I need to look at the big picture and know I need to take steps to get to that level, and that it’s not going to happen overnight. And so in terms of this past weekend’s race, everyone had sub-optimal races. And generally everyone is able to have come back races. I have had a sub-optimal race but I know that this isn’t the end, it literally is only the beginning.

Thank you so much to Team USA Minnesota, RRCA, Saucony, and of course the Pittsburgh 10 Miler for helping me get to and through this race. I hope to be back soon and racing even faster!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Miler and other big updates!

Hey Guys! It's been a while! I have been quite busy the past week. I moved back down to Los Angeles, I received an awesome grant, and I traveled to Minneapolis to race in the Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Miler! To top all of that off, my nutrition is coming along great! I want to tell you all about it.

UCLA, I am back again

On Wednesday I made the five hour and 20 minute drive (with 4 stops!) down to Los Angeles. I am back in my great apartment with my previous roommate, Ella, and a new addition, Jacquelyn. After spending three full months living at home and spending a lot of my time alone, it’s so nice to be surrounded by friends again. I started up classes on the 2nd, took a final vacation to Minneapolis, and then dived back into it this week. Cell Biology is interesting, but dense, and my Biophysical Chem class is jamming through information. Nothing I can't handle, only nine more weeks...

Minneapolis, leading up to the 10 Miler

On Thursday I took a very scary (life-threatening) bus ride through LA traffic to LAX (my shuttle driver was very aggressive), hopped on a plane and landed in MSP around 11pm. Eric, one of my teammates, picked me up and helped me get settled into the Airbnb studio apartment that my mom and I reserved in downtown Minneapolis. My mom's plane got in at 1am and then we both fell asleep before our heads hit the pillow around 2amFriday was busy, with a meeting at General Mills for a potential job opportunity when I move, a Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Reception with Twin Cities in Motion, which the organization that sponsors Team USA Minnesota and completely puts on the Twin Cities Marathon weekend events. Between these two events, my mom and I explored the skyway of Minneapolis and I got to run the first 2.5 miles of the race course. To top it all off, it was about 50 degrees all day long! Eventually, I got used to it, but man. It’s a cool day in LA these days when we have a high of 73! It doesn't even get below 60 at night. So, Minneapolis took some getting used to. Saturday was an early morning of volunteering at the finish line of the 5K, 10K, and kids fun run races. My mom, Gabe, Jon, Jon, Eric, Gina (all new teammates), and I got to give out finishers medals. It never ceases to amaze me what an amazing experience road racing is to so many people. The overwhelming sense of accomplishment when crossing that finish line shows on so many smiling (and only ONE puking) faces. I was then checked into the Crowne Plaza in St. Paul with the other elite athletes. My mom and I explored St. Paul a bit and I was able to run across and along the Mississippi river to do my final pre-race shake out. We got dinner at Cossetta with Eric in St. Paul and I got everything out and ready for the early race morning. 

Sunday October 5th, Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Miler

4:34am I rolled over to check the time. Then, I checked the weather: 36F, feels like 28F. My first reaction: Oh boy, I wonder what it is in LA. 64F, even with the 2-hour time difference. Okay, that wasn't going to make anything better. I got up, grabbed my 2 hard-boiled eggs and cup of granola with almond milk and started chewing. The goal was to get the food in my belly ASAP. I then put on a base layer, my Saucony jersey, a t-shirt, a long sleeve, a sweatshirt, a down jacket, and a wind breaker. On the bottom I had on my 1/2 tights, full tights, and then sweatpants. After a quick ride to the race start with my coach and teammates, we got our warm up going. I quickly regretted all of those layers. I started to sweat, drenching all of my upper layers. By the time we were heading to the start line, I was on just my jersey, arm warmers and (soggy) half tights. I was cold, but surprisingly not freezing. 5 strides later, the anthem was played and the gun went off. 

The women's elite field was not giant, but 5 of us created a pack out front quickly into the first 200m of the race. The first mile, which actually was 0.86 (due errors with the road closures) was a combination of downhill, uphill, hard right turn, hard left turn. I was feeling fresh and we were moving at (prescribed) 5:45 pace. Mile two was tough. We were all fresh enough to jam up the biggest hill just after crossing the river, but it wasn't without some pain. At mile two we dropped to a lead pack of four. Through mile 3.5 it was up and down, up and down, then it finally flattened out a bit. Allison Mendez opened up and the pack of 4 turned into a line of 4, I was holding up the rear. I wasn't feeling like I was running at my heart rate threshold (where I should be when running all out) but I couldn't really pick up my legs and go much faster. I have been experiencing some tightening in my tfls (hips) and IT bands recently, and I know the cold was not being good to me during this race. The goal was to just maintain. I will admit, watching the three girls ahead of me take off and disappear around a curve, I felt like settling. Can’t have that can we? I started to focus on my core and picking up my knees. Around mile 6 I finally felt like I was getting into my groove. Some master’s men pulled up beside me and I did my best to work with them, and came up beside Gina just before mile 8. Mile 4 through 9 were a slight grade uphill, not enough to visually notice at times, but man did my splits show it. I just tried to maintain until we reached the crest just after mile 9 and dropped down to the St. Paul capital building and across the finish line. I came in 3rd, with a time of 59:04. 

The course was very challenging and absolutely beautiful. Twin Cities in Motion and all of their volunteers did such a fantastic job holding this race. I got to run my first race as a Team USA Minnesota Athlete in the amazing place I will soon get to call home. I couldn't have asked for a better course and experience. 

So what’s my take on my finish? I am not too thrilled about how my pace turned out. Considering some of the workouts I did leading up to this race, I know I am capable of a faster average mile pace. I also realized during that first mile that this was the first time I had ever RACED a road race. Prior to Sunday, I had only RUN a road race. I spent my past two marathons and my half marathon running completely alone. It was a completely new experience to be running with competition and to have to work strategically with and against one another. Lastly, it was my first race back since my February marathon and my calcaneus stress fracture. My coach told me that it was expected to feel weird and different to be back on the roads like that. 

So the goal now? Recover, take care of the tightness, and get ready for the even bigger and more competitive field at the EQT Pittsburgh 10 miler on November 9th

RRCA Road Scholar Grant 

On Tuesday a press release was sent out naming the eight athletes who received the Road Scholar Grant from the RRCA organization. It’s a huge honor to not only represent the RRCA while I race the roads for the next year, but also pretty cool to be included in the list of incredible athletes who were also named grantees, this year and years prior. It’s a great feeling to be receiving the same award the 2014 US Marathon Champion Esther Erb received. I met her at the great Twin Cities elite after party on Sunday and got to hear all about how her race went, the play by play was great. I find her very inspiring, and to be considered by the RRCA to have potential, just like she has potential, feels so great. This organization is helping athletes like me race to roads and continue to represent the amazing American distance running movement. 


Lastly, a quick nutrition update: Traveling really affected my eating habits and my GI tract. There's no easy way to say that I had to poo the ENTIRE 10 miler. My regular daily routine was thrown off by the time change and the early race start and it really did a number (tehe) on my race. I 100% believe that I could have run faster if I wasn't thinking about my bowels the whole time. I was also tapered for this race so I spent a lot of days eating and not training hard, which made me feel bloated. Rasa assured me that it would get easier and would feel better leading up to the race. As for during the race, she was both empathetic and willing to help me practice with different breakfast and pre-race meal in order to ward off the urgent need to find a port-a-potty. 

On the regular, I am now back up to 128.0 lbs (my marathon race weight) and still feeling like I am stuffing myself continuously. It is quite amazing, though, how much my metabolism has picked up since I started fueling with more food and more often. I generally sleep well, my mood has drastically improved, and most importantly, a number of people, including my roommate, grad mentor, and other good friends, separately told me that I look good. I no longer look emaciated or tired or too thin. I look like a happy and rested athlete. It is so reassuring to hear that, because the idea of gaining weight (like I blogged about before) is not usually a positive thing. I am finally meeting my energy needs and still training well. It is not without bumps in the road though, every day has its own challenges with this stuff. My old ways of eating battle me at every meal, but like Rasa has told me, if I want to be the best athlete I can be, I need to make sure I am getting the fuel I need.

Friday, September 5, 2014


So my decision has been made, I'm almost 100% back from my injury, and am now 3.5 weeks into training with my new coach. Now that the dust has settled, I am waiting out the end of the summer before heading back to a final quarter of school and am finally back in shape, preparing for my fall racing season, I thought I would share with you one of the big changes I've started making to my life now that I've joined Team USA Minnesota:

There are a zillion reasons why Team USA Minnesota was right for me, but one important one was the support of a nutritionist who specializes in endurance sports. I transitioned from 400m sprinting to endurance triathlon training rapidly, and along with that came a huge drop in weight over a short amount of time. In total it was 40 lbs from January 2011 to March 2013, but the rapid weight loss was about 25 lbs in a matter of 2 months, November 2012 to January 2013. As an athlete with already low body fat (6.3% at 143lbs), that’s quite a bit of weight to lose, regardless of the time period.

Here I am in my peak weight 165, freshman year of college:

and here I am about a month ago, at my lowest, of 122.5:

A number of factors came into play which caused me to lose the weight, but largely it was starting to run longer distances and cycling often while still consuming the same amount of food as I was when I was a sprinter. It doesn't take a genius to know that those two sports DEFINITELY require different fuel. My hunger never really caught up to me too because it was so rapid. To top it all off, I, as a biochemistry major, know the ins and outs of the Central Metabolic Pathway, all of the different mechanisms for energy production and sources, fat storage, vitamin requirements, etc. I am a nutrition and food science geek. Seriously, I read nutritional biochemistry journals for fun. It’s hard to maintain proper food intake when my favorite foods are steamed broccoli, 0% fat greek yogurt, and turkey deli meat.

So what happens when I’m in a constant state of improper energy balance?

High kidney and liver enzyme function: both organs are working extra hard to detox my blood from all of the tissue break down. When I don't feed myself enough, my body breaks down its other tissues (muscle first). Extended high levels can sometimes lead to permanent liver damage.

Low Estrogen: that’s right, low body fat means I can't store my fat-soluble steroids. My levels are PREPUBESCENT. So I'm functioning at levels lover than a 10 or 11 year old girl.

Low Vitamin D: another steroid-derivative that is linked to bone health. It also leaves me at high risk for early onset osteoporosis. So I'm not only an 11 year old girl but also a 75 year old woman too. Sweet.

Sleep issues: without enough fuel through the night, when the liver is functioning at its highest, my body is alerting me to get up and get some fuel because it doesn't want to break down my organ tissues. I would often wake up 4 to 5 times a night and have weak sleep periods between those times.

Body Temp Regulation Issues: with low body fat, I get cold very easily. I have had to wear my wet suit in the heated outdoor pool in Los Angeles, I get goose bumps after I eat because all of my blood flow goes to my stomach, and I suffered pretty severe hypothermia at a triathlon in March 2014.

THANKFULLY, with a trip to the doctor, I found all of this out and that I needed to reverse it immediately. That was about 9 months ago. I gained 2 lbs for my marathon in February but then dropped back down 5 - 6 lbs when I was cross training from my stress fracture injury.

So I needed a nutritionist, but not any old one would do. Enter Rasa Troup. In addition to supporting Team USA Minnesota athletes, she also works with athletes at the University of Minnesota. She has a fantastic steeplechase career under her belt and now is doing a phenomenal job as a nutritionist.

After going over my health issues, my training load, and my eating habits, she set out to change my ways. We Skype once a week, and in each session she teaches me a bit about the balance that I need. Step by step, we've been adding meals, foods, and volume into my diet. She says we have to "train my GI tract" to be able to hold more food and teach my body the new state in which I will be functioning and training. She is helping me avoid calorie counting, and instead gave me a general guideline so I can guestimate and substitute different foods in my meals. The first goal: 3 snacks roughly 400-500 calories, 3 meals roughly 700 calories.

We started with snacks, making sure I eat 6 times a day. Then we started increasing my meals. Instead of a 1/2 cup of oats and 1 tablespoon of nut butter (cashew butter rocks, you should really try it) with two scrambled eggs, I am now eating 1 full cup of oats with the nut butter, added dried fruits, and the eggs have soy cheese added too! Just a ton of food to then have to eat again two hours later. But, like she was telling me, it’s about training my body to know the volume of food to start getting used to. Next up is lunch! I’m making sure my meals are balanced and I’m getting enough carbohydrate sources. I sternly believe in keeping veggies as a staple in my diet, but for now, to gain body fat and weight to make my organs happy and healthy again, I need to increase the grains in my diet. She has me keep a food journal, where I take pictures and write down what is in every meals. I send them to her and they help us figure out what I am lacking, needs improvement, etc.

I have been working with Rasa now for about three weeks, so what have I noticed:

I am rarely ever "stomach-grouping" hungry: Before beginning with Rasa, I (and my mother who dealed with my grumpy, hungry mood swings) found myself feeling absolutely famished when I approached my next meal. I would often try and hold out for a meal rather than snacking which left me feeling crummy. Now I hardly ever find myself hungry and instead have to keep track of the time to make sure im spacing out all of my feedings so that I have a constant flow of nutrients.

I am sleeping well: only waking up once a night!

I am recovering better: able to do multiple workout days in a row and feeling much peppier.

My workouts are going awesomely: I ran some great mile repeats earlier this week, faster than I have ever run them before. I am able to see my fitness improving and feeling like I don't have to put in quite as much effort.

Eating a lot is hard: everyone I talk to finds it silly that I have the issue of not being able to eat enough. At my lunch breaks at work, I have fifteen minutes to SHOVEL food into my mouth, and I'm still not getting enough. The societal issue of eating too much and wanting to eat less is the complete opposite for my situation. I am in a constant state of chewing and explaining to people that yes I do need to eat that giant plate of food, and no I will not end up looking like the chubby security guard. Instead I will be a better runner and healthier human being.

The difference Rasa's approach has made: I worked with a dietitian last year who was focused on calories and specific calculations to figure out my needs. This dietitian made me calculate out 8 nuts, 4 oz of meat, 1/2 cut rice, etc. Rasa on the other hand does that work on her own and then used the approach of helping me build meals and snacks that meet the deficits that I have. I got a general outline of what each meal and snack should have (food groups, amounts) and then she gives me a bunch of ideas of how to satisfy those.

Since that doctor visit 9 months ago, I have been telling myself that I need to gain this weight for my health. If I want to live a happy, healthy, long life, I need to do what is necessary. But why did it take so long to finally click? 

Have you looked around at the fitness magazines, the fashion magazines, the news, food boxes, heck have you looked EVERYWHERE? What is our culture focused on? WEIGHT LOSS. What do girls say their ideal bodies are? Thin, lean, and defined. Without initially trying, I achieved a thin, lean, and defined figure, but at the cost of my internal health. The world around me is focused on losing 5, 10, 20 pounds and find beauty in being skinny and fat-free. When I am told that my goals are to gain those pounds, the surrounding environment sure doesn't know how to respond. There is plenty of judgment passed on what girls and people in general should be putting into their bodies. Popular articles all talk about eating less, eating foods to stay full, and so on. And I know as an elite athlete, my needs are very different from the average. But how come we don't see articles catered to serious athletes? They could talk about nutrients and habits that focused on eating enough, getting adequate energy sources and ratios, etc. Up until now, I have let the cultural stigma of WEIGHT GAIN get to me. I would try for a bit and then fall back into my veggie and protein diet, partially because of the environment around me and partially because I have trained myself to crave that stuff.

I got to sit down with Stephanie Rothstein Brucea sub 2:30 marathoner and an advocate for good body imageand talk heart to heart about the absolute importance of eating enough for your health as being the number one priority. She helped me figure this out: you only have one body and it is 100% more important that a running career. You have to do what is good and right for it and you have to be stronger than the judgment of the weight-loss crazed society.

This time around, I have finally grasped the urgency of the regeneration of my health and the importance it has on my training. I can't run fast if I’m lacking the essential fuel to run, recover, and improve. Being fit and healthy is a universal goal, and for right now, healthy means eating bucketloads of food and gaining some much needed meat on my bones. So I plan to keep putting good food into my body, the right amount of it in, and bask in the good feeling and increased training performance I am having. I am so thankful for Team USA Minnesota, rasa Troup, and my family for the support system that is allowing me to make the change in my life. I have no doubt that this will help with my racing and livelihood in the weeks, months, and years to come!

So next time you see me, ask me why I don't have food in my mouth :p

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I've decided where I will be living and running come 2015!

So this has basically been my view for the past 28 days. From July 8th until August 5th I have been galavanting around the US, landing in 7 states on 11 flights (4 delayed, and 2 early), visiting 3 elite running teams and 1 RunPro Elite Running Camp. Man! What a month it has been, all in the name of running. You see, I have been looking for an elite Olympic development team to join after I finish up these nagging 12 remaining units at UCLA this Fall.

Thankfully, I have made my decision. All of the coaches, team members and communities associated with these teams were very welcoming and helpful. I was able to explore three new cities and meet some exceptional runners along the way. I knew this decision was not going to be an easy one, and I had to remind myself, in the words of a good friend Jeff Caron, "There is no bad decision you can make." It's so true, no matter what, I'll be on a team surrounded by support in my efforts for training of the Olympic trials and beyond. All there was to do now was find somewhere I can be HAPPY living and training...

This is my new home:
       Team USA Minnesota 
               in Minneapolis, Minnesota!
I quickly fell in love with all of the beautiful lakes and running paths. A 32 mile continuous biking and running path encircles the Minneapolis area! I was drawn to the definite downtown that is edgy and diverse, but not too big and crowded. I will get the best of both worlds, some quiet, open, and suburban areas directly adjacent to the lively, urban downtown.

 I will begin working with a new coach named Dennis Barker. He has done a fantastic job as the head coach of Team USA Minnesota for a number of years and has had successful runners in races from the 800m all the way to the marathon distances. He bases much of his work on heart rate and effort and does considerable science-based research to back up his training technique. Another huge factor in my decision to come here is his passion for endlessly learning about new physiological and nutritional concepts that can give his athletes that extra edge.

I also met some AMAZING people while I was there, who were so welcoming to me. All of the team members (about 10 or 11 total) were friendly and excited about my interest in the team. Not only the direct members, but also the community. The husbands of runners, the chiropractor, the sponsoring organizations of the team, the team board members and even some of the Minneapolis locals exuded excitement for me and for the running!

Pictured: My new coach Dennis Barker and some of my new teammates Jon Peterson, Meghan Peyton, and Eric Finan at the Minneapolis Torchlight 5K on July 24th during my recruit visit!

In the end, I found that a team which will provide me a stipend to cover some living expenses while allowing me to continue working in the sciences. It is the balance I was looking for. I will have a supportive coach and team atmosphere while I will still be able to have an independent work/school life. For me, this is the best fit.

So What's next?
1. Continue to increase my milage and stay healthy so that I get get back into racing!
2. Twin Cities 10 Miles on October 5th in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Pittsburgh 10 Miler on
     November 9th
3. Finish up Physical Biochemistry and two upper division biology classes
4. Move back to Santa Clara, California and wait out the FREEZING COLD winters in Minnesota
5. Move to Minnesota in March.

I have a few other races planned through early spring 2015, but it is way more fun to reveal them as I go. I am excited for what the future holds... except maybe the negative temperature winter days in Minnesota... Its going to take some getting used to.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Why My Story is Worth Telling

For my first real blog post, I figured it best to address the reason as to why this blog was created. You see, this wasn’t exactly my idea. I have seen many people take up blogging as a way of sharing their lives with the world; from elite runners, to cooking connoisseurs, to movie critics, everyone seems to have something they considered important to share. My question: was my story worth something? I mean, I am your average 21 year old college student: I like to be fit, I spend too much time browsing the internet, I call my mom at least once a quarter stressed out of my mind about passing my classes, and I eat cereal by the fistful. So is the only significant thing my uncanny ability to run for long periods of time without feeling the desire to slow down or stop? I know lots of people who do that. Is it that I’ve been able to turn something I did strictly because I enjoyed it into a possible career? I know quite a few awesome people who have done this too. So again I ask myself, what makes my story worth sharing? And this is what I’ve come up with:
Each of the achievements I’ve made – attending college as a 400m hurdler on the collegiate team, quitting the team to pursue school, joining and competing for the club triathlon team, trying my first marathon, and now road racing at an elite level – have been achieved by a number of people. Each of these things on its own is a huge accomplishment and is worth celebrating. My story is special because of the unexpected giant leap I made from short sprints into long distance running and in such a short amount of time. Even more, the fact that I could completely redefine what I was “good” at my age is notable.
I know what you’re thinking… “You’re 21!! You’ve got so much time to reinvent yourself and find out what you’re good at.” But think again. Even in high school, we are categorized by what we decide to focus on. I was the hurdler girl. There were the partiers, the band kids, and the scholars. Everyone had a category into which they generally continued to fit. And into college we went, mostly remaining within those lines. When I happened to decide to deviate from the hurdler identity, it was literally and physically stressful; an identity crisis. But within a year, I had found a new identity as an elite marathoner. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!? Well, its not an easy answer but one thing I do know for sure is that the road was not smooth and that contrary to how most humans see the world, things don’t fall into the categories we make. I am a prime example of leaving something at which I was good and finding something completely new at which I was even better.
Seems to me that if it's possible for me to fall into a new passion for which I have an innate knack that many people out there probably have numerous talents too. So enough of putting people into categories by their skills and capabilities, enough of making a finite judgment about someone’s potential. Even more: enough of putting YOURSELF into a finite category. Who knows what skills and passions you possess which you haven’t even discovered!? Go out and do something risky and completely new. You WILL surprise yourself.
So this is why my story is so special and totally worth sharing with the world. It is a call to action for everyone who thinks they are at a place in their life where they have to settle with their skills and potential. You can do more that you ever imagined you could. All it takes is a bit of action! For me, that action is now to pursue this silly thing we call elite running. As I look for an elite team, each of the coaches is ecstatic about how much of a clean slate I am. I am still such a rookie in this sport and getting used to calling myself a distance runner. I have so much to learn and all I have to do is continue to put one foot in front of the other and see where they take me. I hope my journey can inspire you to do the same!

P.S. I decided to enter the RUNNER’S WORLD COVER CONTEST so that I can continue to spread my awesome (new) love for this distance running thing. This is the link to my entry à http://covercontest.runnersworld.com/entry/1812/ , and you can vote every day for me! I would love your help (:

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hello world, here's a little blip about who I am and why my blog might be interesting to follow. I have a unique story that is only beginning to unfold in the world of elite distance running. There are only good things to come. Here goes nothing:

I'm Emily Gordon, a Senior at UCLA Studying Biochemistry with a minor in Biomedical research. I will be finishing up a final quarter at UCLA this Fall 2014 before I venture off to an olympic development distance running program! After two years as a 400m hurdler on my collegiate teams, I decided I was done with the stress and struggles I was experiencing on the track. So I dove head first into my science major and fell in love with research. I have completed over a year and a half in a plant development microbiology lab and love (almost) every minute of the creative and exciting process of research. I would like to continue into biochemical food/nutrition science with a Masters or PhD program in the future. I guess I can revise my interests to include food because not only do I love the science of the macronutrients, but I also love preparing and eating them too! Anyways, I picked up triathlon as a hobby for a year as a study break before signing up for a marathon on a whim with my club teammates. I surprised myself with a 2:51.44 time at the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco and decided to give road racing a go. 4 months later, I got my Olympic Trials Qualifier for the 2016 Olympics Marathon with a time of 2:39.58. I then shortly after signed onto the Saucony Hurricane Racing team! Unfortunately an injury sidelined my running, but not my drive to begin the steps in advancing my running career. I am currently searching and deciding on an olympic development program team to begin with in January 2015 in preparation for the Olympic Trials and beyond. I am excited to share my seemingly Cinderella-like story with the world and to inspire everyone to try something completely new. Who knows, you may find a new talent that you didn't know you had, or even better, a new passion. My new passion is to run run run and also do some biochemistry on the side. I am excited what the future has in store and hopefully entertain you with the bumps and bruises along the way.