It was great to return to California for the Carlsbad 5000
In 2012 the race set the tone for the months that followed; one month after, I ran the Olympic qualifying time for the 10000 metres in Stanford, three months after the standard for the 5000 metres in Helsinki and four months later I was racing in the London Olympic Stadium!
This year the month of March was a testing time; after a great block in Ethiopia, a good few weeks in South Africa but a mixed month in the UK, I flew to the US not fully sure what to expect. On arrival I absorbed the sunshine and positivity that California has in abundance and on race day, when I found myself on the same path as Bernard Lagat for my early morning shake out, I knew I was set for something special.
They say that when you are winning it all feels easy. I was surprised to see 4:44 on the clock for the first mile and when, after two miles, I pulled away from the field I could not understand why the others were not coming with me. Only in the closing stages of the 5000 did the demands of the undulating course and 180 degree turns start to set in. I was awaiting a surge from behind but it did not come. As I crossed the line it was such a joy to win, the atmosphere electrifying, the support incredible.
My time, 15:06, has only ever been bettered by twelve women on a ‘legal’ course, eight African and four non-African.
We always strive to be stronger and faster, but it is so important to respect the body and to take stock. I did not anticipate my body being quite so beaten up after the race but now realise that it was unrealistic to expect otherwise, especially given it was my first road race in almost five months and the pace at which it was run! I am slowly learning patience but it still does not come easily. A few weeks on and everything is falling back into place, returning to its rightful balance; if you want to perform to the highest level, the body must be in harmony and that is an art in itself.