Monday, April 30, 2012

Headed to the Olympics!!!!!

I have been in Germany for 4 weeks now and I came here with only one goal, to achieve the Olympic A standard. I came here a week earlier than originally planned so that I would have an extra chance to go for the standard. I had every belief that I was capable of walking the time but would it happen?

My adjustment to the time change and jet leg was the best its ever been when ive come here to race and training was feeling good. First stop on the racing schedule in Europe was the IAAF Racewalk Challenge event in Rio Maior, Portugal. I had been looking at the forecast all week and it was calling for very severe winds. I told myself not to worry about it and that since I was in such great shape that even if it set me back a bit, that I should still have enough cushion to do the standard of 1:33:30. The plan all along was that if I wasnt on pace for the time that I would drop out at 10km's or as soon as the pace was falling off. The forecast was right, the wind was between 30-40km/hour and so I knew it was going to be a tough day. I started off in good position and on the right pace and was in a great pack of women. Once the top women started to pick up the pace I was left alone to battle the wind alone and after a few more kilometer's, it became apparent that I wasn't going to be able to hold on to the pace I needed to and so I decided to drop out after 11.5km's. I was disappointed to have lost the opportunity with such a great field of women but I had to be smart so that I would be rested enough to give it another shot 8 days later in Naumburg, Germany. Here is a clip from the race, mostly from the beginning few kilometers: 

As I headed back to my home base in Germany, I did a lot of reflecting on what happened in Portugal and what it was going to take to get focused on my next race in Naumburg. I know that I was ready to walk a good race in Rio Maior but after the fact, I was thinking to myself, how much do I really want this. The answer kept coming back to me that I wanted to qualify for the Olympics more than anything. I had put in such good training over the last few months and I had come over to Europe for this long, away from my husband to achieve this goal. I wasn't going to leave here without getting the job done. I did a lot of self talk in the week leading up to Naumburg to get myself ready for a big fight. No matter what happened in Naumburg, I was going to finish the race. Slow or fast, it didnt matter, I was walking the whole 20km race.

I was excited to head back to Naumburg after having been there twice before. It was also my last race in the 2011 season where I finished in a new PB and my 3rd Canadian record of the season. Ive had some nice memories there and was looking to add to those memories.

They changed the course a bit in a very good way. They eliminated a very odd, short turn that I probably lost my 3 seconds from last September in my first real shot at the Olympic standard. I was excited for it to be an even faster course. I knew that I would most likely have to walk alone since there werent many people going my pace. I started off and Sabine Krantz (top German walker and whom Ive been staying with in Germany) was with me for the first few kilometers and then she told me that she didnt think she could go my pace (her goal was just to win the German National title) so I decided to get myself going and go after the time alone. I found myself with a Malaysian guy who stayed less than a step behind me and I felt very comfortable with him there. I went through the first 5km's a bit ambitious in 22:56. "Oh well, its ok", is what I told myself. I just couldnt believe how easy and comfortable I was feeling. I tried to slow down a bit though since I knew it would creep up to me later in the race. Went through 10km's in 46:07 (23:11 last 5km's) and immediately after we crossed the start/finish line the Malaysian guy that I had gotten so comfortable walking with got DQ'd. This was disappointing but I could see it coming from all the paddles he was getting.

I just kept motoring on knowing that I was a lot under the standard and since I felt so good, I knew that I could do it. Calculating that all I had to do was 47:23 for the last 10km's to get the standard, I started to get a nervous feeling. Nervous that I would crash and that I would get the time. I just kept trying to focus on one lap at a time and got to 15km's in 1:09:28 (23:21 for the last 5km's). Sabine had caught back up to me and since time didnt matter for her, she was so nice as to walk with me and help push me to the end. She kept telling me to fight and to push. I think the nervousness in my stomach really hurt me, I couldnt get it to go away and I could only focus on making sure that I was fast enough to be under the standard. All I had to do was 24:02 for the last 5km's to get the time. With every kilometer being under the pace I needed, I knew that I had it. I crossed the finish line in 1:33:05, under the standard by 25 seconds! Also a new PB by 28 seconds and another Canadian record! I was thrilled! I ran right over to my backpack and woke up my husband at 1:30am and then woke up my parents who werent really sleeping anyways :) WE'RE GOING TO THE OLYMPICS!!!!! So much excitment, I just couldnt believe I finally did it.

Thank you to Susi Metzner for putting on a great event yet again! Its becoming my good luck race in Europe and I will definitely be back again! Thanks to Sabine for helping me fight to the end.

I am mostly feeling relief at this point. It has been hard for me to let it sink in, even a week after it happened. I think its because I am not with my family yet. I am trying to get myself to realize what has happened but it just hasnt hit me yet. Now I get to say that I am going to London and I can start planning the rest of my season to ensure the best result possible at the Olympics. 

For now I am still in Germany for another week then I am off to Russia for the IAAF World Racewalk Cup. This will be my 3rd time at this event and I have never had a good showing and so my goal is to get a good performance in and place where I deserve to be. I will also be reunited with Tim in Russia and its been a long 5 weeks. I cant wait to be back with him. You can find information about the event here.

You can also view a few articles about me after getting my Olympic qualifying standard:

Thank you all for the support! I will try and update my blog more often as I prepare for London!!!

Keep on walking,