|Wed, Jul 23, 2014 04:14 PM
July 09, 2014 | 11:58 AM
An abbreviation, only two letters needed, in a runner's lingo can elicit achievement in one's race against the clock.
Seeking the "personal record" is the build up from rigorous training and discipline when it comes to diet and conditioning the body to reach peak performance when the gun fires.
It had been two years since Sarah Pease had echoed those words until she competed the last weekend of June at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. Surpassing her best previous mark, Pease lowered her best time in the 3,000-meter steeplechase during the prelims at the Championships at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, Calif.
Rogue Athletic Club's Sarah Pease clears the barrier at the USA Track and Field Championships. Photo by Becky Miller/Gophertrackshots.com
"It's been a pretty solid year," Pease said. "I wasn't exactly satisfied with how I performed, but I can see the gains. I feel my fitness has jumped to the next level, and my racing is catching up."
Satisfaction for high-level athletes is usually hard to achieve. Baseball players want to hit for a higher average. Basketball players want a better shooting percentage. Tennis stars want fewer unforced errors.
It's no different for Pease, who wants to run faster and place higher at big meets. Ticking that time down is what she trains for day after day.
A graduate of South Central Junior-Senior High School near Elizabeth, Pease turned professional a few years ago when she joined the Rogue Athletic Club based in Austin, Texas.
Making the move wasn't easy for Pease, who went from a walk-on at Indiana University to a three-time NCAA All-American.
"It changed a lot. Moving to Austin was a pretty big move," the 26-year-old said. "It was a full investment into my career. I'm investing everything, so it was a hard transition for me to make. I'm not sure I was ready for it at that time, but, once I got in a groove, I started to better use all my resources."
For Pease, 2013 was a disappointment, but, turning the calendar to 2014, Pease became more motivated.
Hard work showed at the USA Championships, an event she qualified for when she ran a time of 9:53.57 at the Payton Jordan Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., in early May.
At the USA Championships, Pease went under her best time in the steeple, setting a personal best during her prelim run. Staying near the mid-pack and up to fifth place at one point, Pease held strong to run a 9:48.94, good enough to qualify for the final.
"My last steeple race was mid-May, so I was excited to race again," Pease said. "I felt early on in the season I knew I was fit and was ready to set a PR."
Being better fit and physically healthier boosted her morale.
"Going into USAs, I didn't know what to expect," Pease said. "In the prelim, it was so fast. I saw the first heat go fast, so I knew I had to PR to get to the final."
When the time flashed on the board, Pease had a moment of satisfaction.
"It was a relief to see there was some sort of progress. It had been two years since I had a PR in anything," Pease said. "It was great to get that progress and get under 9:50. I feel like I'm moving forward."
The prelims were on a cool evening, while the final in the steeplechase, broadcast nationwide on NBC took place under 100 degree temperatures during the day.
Pease, wearing the colors of Rogue, placed 13th with a time of 9:59.62. The overall winner, Emma Coburn, was much the best, posting a 9:19.72. Coburn represented the United States at the London Olympics in 2012 and, with the win at USAs, made it her third national title.
Race strategy for Pease was to go for it in the final.
"I took a chance to try and get top five, and I paid pretty hard," she said. "I went out hard on an under 9:40 pace and, when the wheels came off, they came off."
Pease said she was still on target for a low 9:40 in her pace until the final 1,200 meters.
"I could have raced to be top 10, but I'm so tired of trying to be top 10 because I feel like I should be running with the best," Pease said. "It didn't happen that day, but it gave me confidence that I won't die the last two or three laps next time."
The goal for Pease going forward into next season is to put herself in position to be in the mix with the top five American steeple competitors.
The confidence is building.
"My fitness is there, and now the racing confidence is there," Pease said. "I'll put another strong year together and some good things can happen."
Making the jump from the disappointment of 2013 to a PR at USAs was part of being more "focused, driven and motivated" to get work done the right way. Getting used to her new coaches at Rogue and their system has come around.
Rogue has plenty of resources at the disposal of their mostly distance athletes. Not only does Pease have a personal coach in Steve Sisson, there is a strength coach, physical therapist, nutritionist, chiropractor and massage therapist for her to utilize. She's done that, along with cranking out 85 to 90 miles of training each week. It's also led to Pease running pain free for the first time in a long while.
"My body feels really good," she said. "They give you all the resources, and it's up to you to decide how much you are going to use those. I put a big effort into using every resource I could this year. Putting in the work has never been a problem for me, but putting in the work at the little things has improved."
Sisson has had a lot to do with Pease's progress.
"He's so different than anyone else that has coached me," Pease said. "He is so passionate and motivated to help me achieve what I want."
While in Austin, Pease works part time as a nanny for two children while also coaching with the nonprofit group Marathon High.
Rogue team members mentor and coach junior high and high school students to run half or full marathons.
"A lot of the participants come from underprivileged homes," Pease said. "We pay their race entry fees, provide running shoes and shirts, too. It's a good way to be involved in the community of Austin."
Coaching is in the future for Pease, but that will come after her competitive racing career is done. While part of Rogue, Pease has competed in several road races. Most recently, she placed 24th among women in the AJC Peachtree 10k Road Race in Atlanta, running in 34:45.
To close the season, Pease has two more events on her schedule: a mile race in Indiana then the USA 7-mile Championship in Iowa on July 26.
A short break in training will follow before Pease jumps back into rigorous preparation. She mentioned a half marathon could be on tap for early 2015.
"Getting the distance work with a half marathon or marathon can help me then add speed works in the spring," Pease said. "I hope for another solid season and work toward getting a chance to go to Worlds."
For more information about Rogue, visit www.rogueathleticclub.com and, for Marathon High, visit www.marathonhigh.com. To follow or support Pease, visit her Web page, www.athletebiz.us/sarah-pease, or follow on Twitter, @spease31.