Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Gate River Run and IAAF World XC Championships

It was another great year in Jacksonville, FL for the USA 15km Championship at the Gate River Run. As always the race had a deep American field and was very well organized. The elite athlete coordinator, Richard Fannin, is extremely motivated when it comes to recruiting and has put together a seamless race experience for the 3 years I have participated.  As always, I feel like I could have raced a bit differently, but overall I am pleased with the result. The spring turned out to be a fairly full plate of racing, so it was important to me to not drop my mileage too much heading into Gate River. I have found that I can race well off of high volume, and I have also found that I have been able to race better later in the season by maintaining a higher volume early on, rather than constantly moving up and down. I did feel a bit flat during the race. We were not running terribly fast from 5k to 10k (mid 4:40s), and it did not feel as smooth as it should have. I consider myself a strong hill runner, so I am fortunate that this race finishes with a bear of a hill over the final bridge. This allowed me to pull myself into the lead pack and put me in a position to kick with the leaders. I came up short against two great distances runners in Ben True and Bobby Curtis, but was happy to be in contention considering how poorly I was feeling midway through. I am confident I will feel stronger in Poland for the World XC Championships as I allow myself to recover and rest.

Rather than flying all the way back to Portland from Florida before flying to Europe, I decided to head straight from Jacksonville. Having the World Championships in Poland turned out to be quite convenient as my wife's family lives relatively close in the Czech Republic. My wife met me in Czech, and we'll be staying with her family until the race. This will allow me plenty of time to get over the fatigue from traveling and the time change, and allow my wife and I to spend a month with her side of the family. The Czech Republic is a fantastic place to train, eat, and only responsibilities over the next couple of weeks.

It's difficult to explain my excitement for the World Cross Country Championships. First, I truly miss the camaraderie of being on an NCAA cross country team at Oklahoma State. After finishing college, there are very few chances to be involved in a race where your individual performance is overshadowed by the goals of the team. Rather than racing for individual glory or money, you are simply trying to perform your role for the greater good of group. Second, it provides a rare opportunity to represent the United States in international competition. No matter the level of athlete, these opportunities do not come often. For most athletes, running in Poland means sacrificing other opportunities, but for me the choice was easy. It will be a privilege to compete against the best XC runners from all over the world. The history of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships is riddled with incredible performances from the most impressive distance runners to ever grace the sport. This year will be no different. Everything will be decided on one day, in one place, over one 12km course, with many of the world's best distance runners. I can't wait. 

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