Reasons to Run: Letters from me

Published: Tuesday, June 28 2011 7:00 a.m. MDT

While attending track meets I sometimes keep a journal. I recently stumbled across my notes I wrote only a few hours after my late night 10K at the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships.

It's a little insight to my pre-race, race and post-race thoughts at that time in my running life.

It's good to look back and remember who you were, and who you can be again.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Well, it’s 6:30 a.m. but I couldn’t sleep. I kept waking up in the night and my stomach still really hurt, so I finally decided to try and eat something. I had a few bites of banana and feel much better, but now that I’m up it’s hard to fall back asleep, even though I went to bed only five hours ago! And it was not very restful. It’s hard to sleep when you’re heart still feels like it is pounding and your stomach feels totally torn apart. Ha ha! So, I figured now was a good time log some thoughts about the race.

I was nervous. I’ve been able to control my nerves so well all season, and they were definitely not out of control yesterday, but they were there. More so than any other race so far this season. Like I told mom last night though, I don’t know how you come to a national meet and not get a little bit nervous unless maybe you are Jennifer Barringer or Galen Rupp. I’m not quite to that stage yet, but just wait!

These nerves were a little different from normal nerves. I feel like normally nerves come because you don’t know what’s going to happen and that is a scary thing. You’re unsure of your ability because you’re unsure of your training or how you’re feeling, etc. I was nervous because I didn’t know what was going to happen, but it wasn’t scary. It was more exciting!

I was sure of my ability and my training. I was nervous for the test because I knew I could do well because I was feeling good, not because I wasn’t sure. Does that make sense? And this is a feeling I have before most races, but it was just multiplied by that fact that this was nationals. It was new arena for me. All the other meets I’ve competed at this season were meets I’d been at before and knew I could conquer. Nationals? We’re talking about some serious uncharted territory (seriously awesome!)

I sat with coach to watch the 1,500-meter prelim heats before I left to warm up. I think he sensed my nerves because he went over the race with me again. I knew that the girl who held the collegiate record was in my race and ranked No. 1. She is from Iowa State. I also knew to watch for a girl from Boston.

Coach told me that if they went out and tried to hammer it, that I was to let them go. But we were both pretty sure it would be a tactical race and go at a fairly conservative pace at first. I knew I just had to be in a good position and hang on the whole time and I could give myself a great shot. Coach said he knew I could be Top 4, he just didn’t know if that meant first or fourth. He told me that’s what we were going to find out and that I needed to enjoy the ride.

Then I had one of those cool coach and athlete sweet moments where coach really said the right things that I needed to hear. He reminded me what an amazing thing it was that I was able to go from being a walk-on to being ready to compete on this level. He told me what a joy it is to coach those kinds of athletes, even more so compared to the athletes who come in with lots of talent and high expectations right out of high school. He told me that I deserved to be here and that I was so ready based on my workouts and races all season. I’d been solid and was ready to compete.

I warmed up alone, which I am fairly used to doing at this point. The lonely life of a distance runner, but I had coach’s words echoing in my head the whole time and I felt more and more legitimate as I jogged, gathered my spikes, numbers and racing uniform and headed to the check-in tent.

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