ALBANY, N.Y. (31-May) -- Twenty-nine days ago Elaina Tabb was circling the track at Stanford University having the race of her life at the Payton Jordan Invitational 10,000m. It was a cool, dry and windless night and she was clicking off laps in the 76 to 77-second range, on target to break 32 minutes and set a personal best.
PHOTO: Elaina Tabb in advance of the 2019 Freihofer's Run for Women 5-K (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
But the 27 year-old, who runs for the Boston Athletic Association High Performance team, said she actually wasn't focused on her time during the race like many of the other women. She was there to compete.
"I raced Payton Jordan with the mentality of, like, I'm not even going to look at the clock," she told Race Results Weekly in an interview here today before tomorrow's 41st Freihofer's Run for Women 5-K. "I'm just going to hear my splits from my coach shouting them, but I'm really going to focus on getting in the zone and competing. I've spent so many races looking at the clock and psyching myself out."
Tabb said that her pre-race was goal was to set a personal best and break 32 minutes (she did that, running 31:55.72). But moments after the race was over feelings of disappointment began to creep in because she missed the qualifying time for the 2019 IAAF World Championships by less than six seconds.
"I went in there with the goal, I want to PR," Tabb said. "I wanted to run what I knew I should be able to run for the last few years now." She continued: "Then when I finished and I saw that I was five seconds off the time, I was like oh, that is frustrating!"
Tabb hadn't planned to run another 10,000m track race until the USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships at the end of July in Des Moines. But, coming so close to the qualifying mark at Stanford caused her and her coach Ricardo Santos to change course. Instead of doing the USATF 10-K Championships at the NYRR New York Mini 10-K next Saturday --a race she had been keenly looking forward to for weeks-- she decided to run here in Albany to get in a good hard effort over a shorter distance, then run another track 10,000m at the Hertz Pacific Distance Carnival in Burnaby, British Columbia, on June 13, with the hope of hitting the standard. That race will also be the Canadian 10,000m championships.
"Road races take a lot of mental pressure off of me," Tabb explained. "Just like cross country, it just feels more natural the way I have to train and race those. So, I decided to do some road races and come back to the track. That's kind of the reason why I decided to come to Freihofer's. It will be a good hard effort and get me sparked again to race on the track."
At tomorrow's race, which features an all-USA elite field, Tabb is the strongest athlete with a 15:32.49 track personal best (15:38 road). She's never run the event before, but was attracted to it by the fact that it is a long-standing all-women's race with a great community spirit. The race contributes to ten local charities, and presented checks here today totaling $10,000 to two female-focused charities, Caring Together Inc., which raises money for ovarian cancer research, and Girls Inc. of the Greater Capital Region, which runs after-school programs for girls.
"It's a much greater purpose than running on the track, and for me that takes the pressure off," Tabb explained. She continued: "I always love this community event. I love seeing the middle-schoolers and elementary school students. Talking to them, that's my favorite thing to do."
After tomorrow's race, Tabb will quickly shift her focus back to the track. She's excited to go to British Columbia, pull on her spikes, and mix it up with the best Canadian women. She figures that the pace should be close to the World Championships standard of 31:50, and she is thankful to get another chance to hit the mark.
"Thirteen days from now I'm going to be running on the track and back into that do-everything-I-can-to-break-31:50," she said. "Ever since I decided to do that race I've been practicing my mental game in all of my workouts, that long grind, getting into that time trial feel. So, when I get there I'll be ready. I really have my eyes that race."