Following a good run at Stanford I wanted to get straight into competing against the Worlds best and the first steeplechase on the Diamond League calendar was in Shanghai.
I flew from Atlanta to Chicago, before the monster 14.5hr flight to Shanghai. The entertainment system decided to shut down after 5hrs, just what you want with 9.5hrs remaining! Luckily I had a couple of films on my computer, so I watched Hangover 2 and Bridesmaids, until my battery died.
I flew economy plus and had an aisle seat, so I could get up and walk about and stretch whenever I wanted to.
It was only a short drive from the airport to the hotel. The hotel was actually inside the stadium! You can see from the picture to the right, the upper glass windows of the rooms.
Unless you are a World or Olympic medalist, you share a room with another competitor. My old FSU house mate Susan Kuijken was competing in the 1500m, so we requested each other as roomies which was nice.
Heavy rain had set in on the morning of the meet and was predicted to stay around for the evenings events. Weather can not be controlled and I never let the conditions affect my mental approach. The goal was still the same, to "compete" and bag the Olympic-A Standard of 9:43.00.
I went out mid-pack, but never really got into the race. There are so many things that go through
yourmind in your first Steeplechase of the year; will i slip on the water barrier? how
will my hurdling be?
I must run the A-Standard......with my mind all over the place i didn't focus on any one goal.
I ran around within my comfort zone and before I knew it, the bell was ringing to mark the final lap. It was disappointing to travel half way across the world for such terrible racing conditions, and as each lap passed the rain got heavier.
I achieved my goal of gaining the Olympic A-Standard, but I was disappointed with my overall performance. I knew if i could run a lazy 9:40 in bad conditions i had a very good time in me.
Next stop in the Diamond League would be the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon in 2 weeks time.
The next day I needed to get in my Long run before catching my flight home late afternoon. With so much traffic and so many lights it would be impossible get a good run in without having to stop every few minutes.
I decided my best option would be to loop the stadium and gymnasium opposite, which made for a 7-minute figure eight loop. I did this for 90-minutes. You do the maths! It was very boring, and I dare only wear one ear of my ipod headphones as the cars and motorcycles do not seem to abide by any traffic laws, or lines on the road!...British Record!
Prefontaine Classic. Eugene, Oregon.
After a disappointing race in Shanghai, my only goal going into this race was to go with the pace for the first 1000m, no matter what.
My psychologist (Stan) and I had worked on a strategy during the week to ensure this would be my sole focus, and i was confident with what he had planned for me.
I was suprised at how good I felt running off the back of the lead pack of 5, and we headed through the first 1000m in around 3:06. The Africans tend to stutter alot going into the barriers, then sprint off each one, so i gave myself a stride or two gap so i could keep a nice rhythm going as they fought for space among themselves.
I went through the 2km in around 6:17, a mere 5 seconds behind the leading trio, the fastest I have ever split. It is difficult to know your splits when the clock stops to show the split of the leaders, but i knew i was on pace for at least 9:30. I don't always look at the clock, but in Shanghai I thought I was going a good pace and i wasn't, probably due to the weather. So I wanted to ensure i wasn't slowing down.
Over the last 3 laps I made the mistake of focusing on the athlete behind me, rather than the pack in front. So I was actually racing for 4th and not for the "W".
With 800m to go i knew I was feeling good, but waited for the bell lap to make my move. I came home very strong and held my 4th position, smashing the British record by 5 seconds.
After the race i was obviously happy to have run a big personal best and a new British Record, but I was also angry at myself for not racing the leaders. Something to work on in my next race....NYC Mini 10k
I was invited to run the New York Mini 10k by New York Road Runners. It was the 40th anniversary of the race, which was the first-ever road race exclusively for female participants.
I represented the inclusion of the Women's Steeplechase for the first time ever at the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008.
The timing of the race was perfect. My coach had a longer 5/6mile tempo race set for me, so the 10k (just over 6 miles) would be a great workout, and the opportunity to be involved in such an amazing event.
The course took us around the rolling hills of Central park. The race was lined with spectators which provided a fantastic atmosphere, and a total of 6.122 women participated in the race.
I finished the race in 35:01, which calculates to 5:36 per mile.
Following the race the elite female participants and a number of invited guests gathered for an amazing 7-course Lunch at Becco on NYC's famed restaurant row. Special guests included Jacqueline Dixon, the first ever winner of the event back in 1972 as a 17-yr old and Kathrine Switzer, who challenged the all-male tradition of the Boston marathon, and became the first ever female to officially enter and run the event.
After lunch I took the opportunity to go and watch the NYC Diamond league.
On Sunday morning I meet my good friend Harry Norton who lives a few blocks from central park and enjoyed a nice tour of the bridle paths in Central park and the beautiful campus/trails through Columbia University.
A special thanks to NYRR for putting on such an amazing event.
A full story on the race can be found here http://www.nyrr.org/run-with-us/nyrr-new-york-mini-10k/race-recap
My husband and coach, Sean, was successful in getting a new position within New Balance and took the job as the sales rep for the Boston and NE area.
We have made 2 big moves over the past 4 years, so we were much more relaxed about the short move North to Boston. Previously we had the long trek across the US from Florida to California and then back east to Atlanta
I went up to Boston for 3 days to house hunt. We were successful in finding a beautiful little home with a garden. We have an 85lb/38kg dog, so it will be nice for him to have a space outside to play.
I flew straight from Boston to London on Tuesday before the trials. (with my new super lightweight New Balance spikes!)....Olympic Trials
My coach I decided it would be better for me to run the 5000m at the Olympic Trials.
Firstly, thesteeplechase comes with a high risk of picking up an injury, and secondly I could train much harder before and after the weekend if I ran the 5000m.
The race went out painfully slow. I had no idea what the plans of the other athletes were so i was ready for a blistering start or a jog in the park.
The latter barely describes how slow the first lap was. I think it was around 87 seconds. I positioned
myself on the rail behind the leader to ensure i was ready for any sudden move or change of pace.As we hit 3000m, in a pedestrian 9:59, the pace slowly began to increase and I knew as each lap passed the pack would get smaller and the pace would get faster. I felt pretty relaxed throughout the whole race, and my stride always feels better when the pace quickens.
I decided to wait until the last lap to see if anyone would make a move, and it seems this was the thought process of the other two women. Even on the back stretch with 250m to go I felt very comfortable. I was anxious to make a move and probably should have gone further out or left it until the home stretch. Instead i was a sitting duck for Jo Pavey as she followed me round the final bend before accelerating for the win over the last 50m.
It was a display of experience by Jo, and i will pocket this race as a lesson in tactics.
I am really happy the race went how it did, it was like running the heats of a championship. I have yet to run a race this year that wasn't fast from the gun, so i was able to practice my mental focus, respond to pace changes and race for the win.
My top 2 position granted me automatic selection for the 5000m at the Olympics. I hope also to be selected for my main focus, the 3000m steeplechase. Team selections will be announced next Tuesday, July 3rd.
UK followers can view my race on BBC iplayer via the following link. You can skip forward to 1:05.00. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01k9tcb/Athletics_2012_24_06_2012/
The following day I did my long run as usual. With no racing until July 6th my coach wanted me to get in a good long run as it would be one of my last 90-minute efforts. I waited until the evening as I got home quite late on Sunday night, which also meant a nice lay in!
This week I will be putting in a good block of mileage and some solid longer workouts. I will do my main track session with my Club at Norwich on Thursday night, which is great as i can get pacing help from some of the boys.
The next day i will travel to Birmingham for treatment from the UKA team, which I can access as part of my UKA lottery funding. It is important I stick with my weekly massage/physio routine to stay healthy.
My next race will be the Paris Diamond League on July 6th. I will face the complete Olympic Kenyan and Ethiopian team, plus last years World Championship Silver medalist. I will be looking to place as high as possible and hope to run a fast time.
The Olympic Torch Relay will be coming through King's Lynn next Wednesday so I hope to catch that before I head to Paris.
Don't forget you can follow me on twitter https://twitter.com/#!/BarbaraParker3