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August 31, 2009

Brooke Wells - Entry #1

Written by Dena Evans

Brooke Wells, a local elite athlete and Cal graduate, is training for the Twin Cities Marathon on October 4th.  As the 2009 US Women’s Marathon Championships, Twin Cities offers the only chance to log a qualifying time for the 2012 Olympic Trials Marathon before the official qualifying window begins in 2010.  In the following post, read about Brooke’s adventurous experience at the recent America’s Finest City Half Marathon in San Diego.

It was a race to the starting line…

Race morning. No matter how early the alarm goes off, I always seem to pop out of bed with an energetic ease. Sunday August 16th, the alarm went off at 4:40am. The coffee was prepared, the uniform was laid out, the drop bag was packed. I had allotted 30 min to get in a 10 min easy activation jog, make my favorite pre-race breakfast (banana, peanut butter and honey on toast) and jump in the car. I felt like I was prepared. I was wrong.

My boyfriend Crosby and I were staying with my high school best friend. She and her husband live in Carmel Valley, a 25 min car ride from the San Diego Sheraton where the elite buses were taking picking us up.  As Crosby rolled out of the parking lot, I took a look at the clock 5:20- we had 20 min to make the 25 min drive. I took a deep breath and a sip of my coffee.
Crosby did a fantastic job getting us to the hotel, but alas, just as we pulled in, the elite bus pulled out. “It’s ok, there are always the buses for the other 7,500 racers, and they run until 6:00am”; I said as I tried to ease our nerves. Then it hit me. The buses were leaving from the finish at Balboa Park, not the race hotel. We had 10 min to drive, park and board. Without hesitation, Crosby “gunned” it. The race began.
After making an incorrect turn (courtesy of me, the nervous navigator), parking and “light jogging” to the buses we made it there at 6:04. There were over 500 people still in line to get on.  I found a man who resembled someone “in charge” and tried to pull the elite card with him. NOTE: This will only get you embarrassed, it will not get you on the bus any faster. He less than politely told me to go to the back of the line.
We made it on the bus at 6:15 and “settled in”. As the miles to the start clicked off, we pinned our bibs on, affixed our race chips and made more that one pre-race trip to the bus toliet. We rolled in to the race start at Cabrillo National Monument at 6:45, and hit traffic? The buses had to drop us off in a loading zone, and like anxious track racers, we felt pinned to the rail in lane 1, unable to escape a slow moving pack.
6:50 and at last we were off the buses. Mind you, we still had all our gear and nowhere to drop it. We defaulted to throwing our things amongst the million sweat check bags and hoping they made it to the finish. As the National Anthem began, we took the final sip of pre-race water, grabbed Gu’s and spotted the start line. 7,500 people were in front of us. I tried to make a dash on the side of the masses to the start and Crosby kindly reminded me, “You don’t run duing the National Anthem”. “Home of the Brave”, and we were off, “kicking” to the starting line. Crosby spotted his Aggies Teammate, Sergio Reyes and I eyed all-star masters runner Silvia Mosqueda, who I would pace off of. We lined up, wished each other good luck, and the real gun went off.

No warm up, no strides, no time to think. It was time to race, again.

I tucked behind Silvia who promised to hit 5:50’s. The first two miles were much more rolling than I imagined. We came through in 5:51; 5:50. Mile 3 had a water stop with eager volunteers, hands stretched out, doting water and gatorade. As we passed the station, Silvia caught our mile split, 5:40, and yelled, “Screw water, someone grab me a beer”. The next two miles were down hill, 5:28; 5:39 and then the course flattened out a bit. We took a sharp right turn and I dropped back a few meters from Silvia, keeping her and two men grouped with her in plain sight. In hindsight, this is where I needed to use the men as a shield from the wind and use the energy of the group.
After detaching from Silvia and her trusty Gamin, I was not diligent about getting my splits. I know that I came through the 10k in 36:10 before we made an out and back on Harbor Island. I was happy cruising through the last flat mile (10) in 59:00, although this is where my legs stopped responding when I told them to “turn over”.
Mile 10 has a 8 block steady incline up “A” St. and then a sharp left on to 6th St. I rounded the turn knowing of the hill that lay ahead. I took a deep breath and told myself “Push! Do not give in!” The sight that lay in front of me was daunting. There was no end to the relentless uphill battle. Mile 11 was without a marker, so when I looked at my watch and saw over 10 min for the mile split, there was a small moment of “oh no!”
The hill was a mental and physical battle. I constantly was positively reinforcing myself that I could make it, that I could push through the discomfort, yet I did not set a goal or make a real-time effort to pick of anyone in particular. I was “hanging on.”  After 3 weeks at nearly 90 miles, my tired legs were beating my spirit. I came through mile 12, and saw that to PR I would need to run a 4:50 mile. I kissed my PR goodbye, grin and beared the final straight away and kicked in to run 1:18:45.

Irregardless of the hills, I was not happy with the time. I guess as a competitive runner, you are never “stoked” to do less than your best, or less that you know you are in shape for and capable of. Also, I know that I wasted a ton of adrenaline and energy in my “pre-race race”. Next time, I will be more prepared.

I am pleased that I practiced positive reinforcement and that the race felt manageable. I could have kept going. I have more in me and I got through the training cycle and the race injury free, which in itself is a HUGE victory.
I got a post-race kiss and hug from my 5th place boyfriend, and we cooled down together. As we put on sweats and were putting an end to the effort I thought to myself, “I have work to do. I can do the work. I know that on Oct. 4th at Twin Cities Marathon, 2:40 is possible. I can make it happen.”
All I need to do is Focus-N-Fly.
Happy Running.


Brooke Wells
Last modified on October 10, 2010
Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.

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