Local race walker is in the groove
The reigning Canadian race walking champion from Peterborough continues to take a bite out of the Big Apple as she captured her third-straight Millrose Games one-mile title on Saturday at Madison Square Gardens in New York City, the 104th edition of the event.
The annual meet is one of the largest indoor track and field events in the U.S.
"I usually don't get nervous for races but for some reason I always do for this one," Seaman said on Monday from her home in San Diego, Calif. "My base training keeps me strong and I start each year strong. This race is based on speed and my training helps on a stage like this."
Seaman, daughter of Nil and Christine LavallÃ©e of Peterborough, not only topped 13 other competitors, she also smashed the course record she set in 2009. Her time of six minutes, 41.32 seconds was a six-second improvement.
She is currently the only Canadian to hold a record at the Games.
"The past two years I had (longtime U.S. champ) Teresa Vaill to hang off but this year the target was on my back," said Seaman, 25. "Everyone was kind of expecting me to win and prior to the race they were even asking me how much I was going to win by.
"It was a weaker field than in previous years with some high school competitors but all of that just gets me fired up to perform well."
The victory is a positive step for the 20-kilometre race walk expert who looks to bounce back from a roller-coaster 2010. The season included battling illness in the spring, missing out on qualifying for the Commonwealth Games and enduring a car crash in Toronto just prior to the Canadian track and field championships.
"It was a tough year," said Seaman. "I was in good shape but my mental state just wasn't there. The car accident shook me up a lot, too. I've changed my outlook and am feeling strong."
Evidence of that came a week before the Millrose Games when she won a 20km race walk at the USA 50KM Championships in a time of 1:37:18 - a new personal best, topping her 2009 World University Games mark by four seconds.Â Â
Seaman says she expects she'll need to reach the Athletics Canada's A-standard of 1:33:30 to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
"My goal this year is to get as close as possible to the qualifying time for the Olympics," she said. "My main goal is to drop as much time as possible."
And her training is taking a step in the right direction with higher mileage.
"Last year, I managed only eight weeks total of 130 kilometres of more and already I've done six weeks of 130k or more."
Seaman is set for the U.S. Pan-Am trials next week in Florida, along with several races in Europe in April. She then plans on several months of extensive training alongside her husband and coach Tim Seaman (a two-time Olympian and former U.S. champ) prior to returning to Canada for the nationals.
"I'm feeling a lot stronger and I'm also back on the weights which I haven't done since I was in Peterborough and training under Richard Borek.
"I've got more confidence going into this race season," she added. "I know each race is going to get better and better."
Keep on walking,
RachelRachel Seaman is back in the New York groove.