On 3/4, I raced the Willamette Opener in Salem. Workouts in February showed me that I was getting closer to pre clot form. My weeks in February generally included one tempo of 3-4 miles, 1 short speed workout, and one long run. The tempos were all done on the bark at Amazon so I was mostly going by feel instead of for time but I could tell that I was getting stronger from week to week. I was originally thinking of doing the Willamette 1500 on the 4th so I was doing things like 2 x (k-200-200) or 1k-800-600-400-200 all at mile pace. The long runs really helped me with the anxiety as I was going 15-18 miles every Sunday. I did a 3k time trial on the track in 9:38 and then a couple days later ran 5 x (1k, 400m) averaging 3:16/k and 75/400. Those two results made me switch to the 5k at Willamette. I was definitely fit but pulled a classic marathoner move before the race. In the few days leading up to the race I ran 10 miles, 8 miles, and 7 miles. I did the 5 x (1k, 400m) workout the day before the 10 miles. I should have cut the mileage in half the three days before if I wanted to run faster but I kept the volume up and the race played out accordingly. I wanted to go through 3200m in about 10:30 or so to give myself a chance at 16:15. I, instead, ran my first 1600 a couple seconds under 5:20 and the next 1600 a couple seconds over 5:20. I was locked into 5:20 for the first two. I could not move and quicker and my legs felt very heavy. I slowed to a 5:30ish on the final 1600 and then brought it home in 16:51. This was a college meet so the race was hot from the start. I was near the back of the field and went through the first 400 in 74ish. I went through 800 in 2:35 or so. I started too quick and then my heavy legs had to endure the full 12.5 laps on the track. I beat a few college kids and ran under 17:00 so not all was lost. I'll be honest that I was a little nervous before the race, attempting to run all out just four months after discovering a blood clot. This race showed me that I can run fast again and not think about the clot at all.
I put in some solid training for the next two weeks and ran the Lane Community College Preview 3k on 3/18. There were two heats for this one, as the first heat featured two University of Oregon runners and two elite Japanese runners. In between the 5k and the 3k, I got in two solid workouts that made me feel like something good was coming. I did a 2 x 1600m workout w./ an 800m jog and hit 5:05 and 5:02. I then added on a fast 600, 400, and 200 to cap off that workout. The Tuesday before the Saturday race I did a big double workout. In the morning I did a 2 mile tempo, an 800m, and another 2 mile tempo. In the evening, I got to workout at Hayward Field with the UO Running Club and did 3 sets of 600-400-300-200. I ran faster splits in that evening workout than anything I had ever done before. I ended up with 18 miles that day. I was smarter Wednesday through Friday as I ran 8, 7, and 6 miles. The 6 on Friday included 4 x 200m averaging 34. The race on Saturday was in the afternoon so I did 2.5 mile VERY EASY in the morning around 8am. I got to the race and warmed up around 3:15 for the 4pm race. I tried something a little new during the warmup and did a 2:00 tempo about 1.5 miles in. The segment was at 5:40 pace and then I finished nice and easy around 2.25 miles. I then did drills and some strides before changing into spikes. There were maybe 8-9 runners in our heat. I went out in 74 for the first 400 and felt like I was in control. We were single file but everyone was still in contact as the leaders were 71-72 or so. I maintained the pace on lap 2 and hit 800 in 2:28-29. I was sitting behind a Western Oregon runner and a UO Club runner was just in front of him. The UO Club runner started to gap us on the third lap but we were consistent and were 3:43-44 at 1200. I wanted to maintain contact with the UO runner because we had done the workout together on Tuesday night at Hayward but I did some quick calculations and figured it might be best if I stay behind the college runner in front of me. We passed 1600 in about 4:59. That's 9:20 pace for 3k and was consistent with our first 3 laps. My race plan had been to go out in about 5:00 and then try to hold on/see what I could do. I moved around the runner that had led me through the first 1600 on lap 5. When I got to 2k, however, I was maybe 5-6 second off of the UO runner who I wanted to try to stay on. It's tough to make up that kind of ground in a 3k. For the final k, I basically just maintained pace. I did not catch the UO runner but he picked off somewhere around 4-5 people to finish close to the top. I passed one more runner and was closing in on two more but just ran out of ground at the finish line. I missed the runner in front of me by 1 second and another person was just ahead of him. In retrospect, I should have worked harder to maintain contact with the UO runner who ran 9:13. I finished in 9:24 which I am really happy about. I don't think that I would have run 9:13 but maybe could have dropped under 9:20 if I wasn't running alone on the last k. My splits were very even- about 3:07-3:08-3:09. 9:24 equates to just over 10:00 for 2 miles and about a 16:20 5k, 34:00 10k and 1:15-flat half marathon. I still have to do the training but the potential is there this spring for some solid times and PRs.
I finally ran a race in a time that I feel like represents my fitness pretty well. I'm excited to race on the track some more this spring. I'm signed up for a track 10k and 5k in April. I then have a 5 mile road race and the Eugene Half Marathon to look forward to. I'm still going through some good and bad but I am starting to realize that a lot went well over the last several weeks.