Oxy HP Viewing Party (of one) and Recent Progress

Last week was the High Performance Meet hosted by my alma mater Occidental College. This meet is special. Upfront, it’s a high caliber USATF track meet – 800m and up, elite standards, and often draws a few big names among professional distance runners.

But it’s also big time track’s best-kept secret. At least when I was at Oxy it was. We didn’t know this meet even existed. I have only attended it once. In my senior spring, many of us staying for graduation got first dibs to volunteer and basically watched the meet for free from the infield. The crowd is typically small – like I said, few people know this meet exists – and in 2012 the only big names I remember were Bridget Franek and Jenny Simpson.

^awesome post by Sally Bergesen

It seems like every year since then increasingly more top elite athletes are signing up for this meet. In 2013, Mary Cain, Galen Rupp, and Nick Symmonds raced there. Last year, John and I streamed it live on his TV screen, and I remember watching Jordan Hasay race a 5k that was supposed to include Lauren Fleshman as well (not surprisingly the only reason I wanted to watch a crappy Internet stream).

It is always smugly satisfying to watch Olympians and top distance runners compete on a track that I know so intimately. This meet is a source of pride for me as a former Oxy TF athlete, because we’re not Stanford or Oregon. We’re not hosting Payton Jordan or the Pre Classic, or even the Drake Relays. We’re tiny Division III Occidental College, and we host a meet that can definitely holla at any of the bigger ones.

The elites talk about how they love to run the Oxy HP meet – “Oxy magic” they call it – because the track is fast and the competition is usually stacked. It was STACKED this year. In the women’s 800m alone were Jenny Simpson, Maggie Vessey, Chanelle Price, Phoebe Wright, Shannon Rowbury… just to name a few.

Maybe I’m just a bigger runnerd than I was when I was at Oxy, but that’s a lot more “household” runners than I remember in 2012.

I am a little salty that the meet is now officially called the Hoka One One Mid Distance Classic…. On the one hand, Hoka is certainly a track and field underdog and they deserve some marketing, and yeah I guess by giving the meet a brand name it probably broadened awareness for the meet on social media (I mean seriously Twitter was blowing up about this meet, which is awesome). But what bugs me about the name is that it masks Oxy’s association with a big time track meet. Many who stumbled across the “#HokaMDC meet happening in Los Angeles” probably assumed the meet was hosted at USC or UCLA. I’m sure very few except the crème de la crème of runnerds was savvy enough to know this meet is hosted annually at Oxy, and yes we do indeed have one of the world’s fastest tracks.

Rant aside… I grabbed some beer and chips and Oxy gear and settled in to watch the meet like any other good sports fan. It was great fun until unseasonable downpours (WTF?? ok but actually I was kind of laughing because I know that track floods when it rains) cancelled the remaining events, so, no, Kara Goucher didn’t get to run a 5k on my turf.

^like I said

Hopefully next year (Olympic year!) I can travel to LA to spectate my butt off. And eat some Cacao. I’m already planning to order a fat burrito with deep fried avocado inside. And do some Rose Bowl runnin’. Good times.

In non-elite running news…

Week two of logging a modest 20 mpw is complete! Not all the miles include running, and that is totally fine. I have a reliable 4mi route that follows the alleys all the way to this park where I do strides or drills before turning around. My goal is usually to only run the soft stuff and take walk breaks whenever I encounter pavement. Sometimes I feel like running the whole thing, and other days I don’t feel much like running, so I walk a lot. And I am 100% OK with that.

This year's only Jackalope 5k shot (courtesy of High Plains Harriers flickr)

This year’s only Jackalope 5k shot (courtesy of High Plains Harriers flickr)

One day last week I ventured out in the rain to do a WHATEVER fartlek even though I really didn’t want to. I told myself “30 minutes… whatever speeds I feel like,” and that got me out the door. Shutting down the pressure. And apparently I was feeling pretty speedy! I ran faster whenever I felt like it for as long as I pleased and slower when I needed a break.

I also did two of my runs continuously, because 4mi nonstop feels like a lot at this point and I need to work on extending my endurance. One was a pretty brisk run, and the other was a recovery day, so I watched my pace to keep it slow. After the run, nothing hurt, and I felt rejuvenated rather than broken down.

Work was tough this weekend, so I have been taking my rest really seriously. Classes are over for two weeks, so I’ve had ample free time for active relaxation. Lots of foam rolling and stretching, and I took a leaf out of this girl’s blog to set aside meaningful rest for an hour during the day. The difference between napping out of boredom for prolonged periods of time and shutting down the lights and distractions for a single hour is astounding. I have more energy after dedicated rest. The grogginess that accompanies “coming to” is easily remedied by sitting up and taking several deep breaths, and then I am ready to move along.

My appetite returns in full-force when I pick up running again, so here are some favorite snacks lately because why not talk about food?

Oatmeal with almond milk, flaxmeal, and berries. I’ve stopped adding sugar to my oatmeal, and when it is packed with other goodies I don’t even notice.

Kale salad. I am a weirdo with the kale salad because I get cravings for it. It’s been my go-to late night snack before bed. My favorite add-ins are strawberries, avocado, and goat cheese. Sweet, tangy, and creamy all in one bowl.

Post-exercise black bean quesadilla with veggie crumble. Sometimes I add pineapple or avocado and always add sriracha.

I also can’t get enough frozen banana creamy treat! I blend up frozen banana with another frozen fruit, add a little almond milk, and any other flavoring that sounds good. I like to mix in a spoonful of chia and flaxseed peanut butter I found at Trader Joe’s. It’s like ice cream that is actually nutritious, or like a dense smoothie.

And my favorite coffee joint lately is Turtle Rock Cafe because turtles rock and they have an outdoor patio and offer soymilk. Nothing beats sipping coffee at home on the couch, but when I need to be “social” (or we’re out of coffee) this place is my jam. And it’s a block away.

Bottom line: I’m feeling content with running again. It’s always a beautiful struggle to start a comeback, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My goals are on the horizon, but those will stay on the backburner for a while so I don’t jump the gun on my progress. Right now I am still focusing primarily on enjoyment and release, both of which I lost trust in this winter but which I know will take me farther than “training” ever did.

Holla atcha Oxy (circa 2009)

Holla atcha Oxy (circa 2009)

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