going into this weekend, i was not ready to race. i was ready for the atmosphere that goes along with cross-country meets, i was ready for the hype, i was ready to put on the maroon and white, but i (quite frankly) was not ready to be put through the pain and hurt that i knew it would take to win a cross-country meet. i doubted myself, i doubted my fitness.
friday’s warm-up was not ideal. i had stomach cramps and literally exploded in the woods (sorry to those people who think this is TMI). my legs didn’t feel pristine, my legs didn’t feel “ready” to go, and i was an emotional nut case knowing that i am red-shirt junior not knowing what my plans are for next year. i threw-up after dinner (because i am sick) and it made me feel a little bit better but because i have been taking so much musinex, i was so dehydrated and not feeling on my A-game.
the morning came and i had a great shake-out/stretch at 6:15AM. i then got the most amazing breakfast of 2 plums and half a bagel with nutella, plus INSTANT COFFEE from these cool pouches of coffee. they are like crystal lights, just coffee style! HOW CONVENIENT!
at the race, we had a great warm-up and extended run. the race was at 10AM, and in the south in the middle of summer, that is literally just asking for a death-wish. it was 90º at the start of our race, not to mention that the men’s race started at 11AM. ouch! i followed Haley (MSU) and Taylor (of Rhodes College) through the mile. i ended up splitting 5:40-42 through the first mile. i was pleased with my effort through the mile even though i was letting them create a gap from me-about 12 seconds from first. i have no idea what my 2-mile split was because at that point i was just focusing on getting to the 3-mile mark and finishing. sewanee is not exactly the easiest course. knoxville may be a very comparable course, rolling hills on a golf course.
Haley and I were within seconds of each other for the 2nd mile and on to the 3rd. when we were just shy of the 3 mile mark, Haley passed the Rhodes girl and then i followed suit within the next 30 seconds. we had made up a 10 second gap Taylor created and dropping it to 6.5 seconds and then reeled her in. Haley and I were a one-two punch going in the 3rd mile and i didn’t know if i was gonna make it. Haley had a gap on me and was truly stringing me out, dragging me by my calves, quads, and forearms. She is such a great teammate and training partner. She pushes you to do things you didn’t know you could do. She is there to pull you up when you are having a bad day, and she can make you laugh on the toughest of days.
in every race, a runner goes through good feelings/euphoria and then they go through periods of mental disfunction. they start questioning whether is is really worth finishing, whether you can finish at all, whether it is worth it to just fall so you can end all the pain at an instant. you know that point in the race. for me, it was at the 3-mile mark. i knew i had .76 miles to still run and it was all rolling hills. i contemplated falling, but then i saw the 10 girls in maroon and white behind me who look up to me and view me as a role model, what’s more is that i am their teammate. and i GRIND FOR THEM and THEY GRIND FOR ME!
i finished and all i can say is that it was feeling i can only slightly recall. i was delirious, i was out of it, i was foaming at the mouth, i was falling, i was drunk-like. i can hardly remember what i was doing after the race. it took roughly 20 minutes for me to change out of my shoes and get running on my cool down. i do remember one thing that i did do after i pulled myself together. i sat down behind the starting line and prayed. i thanked God for His blessings and His protection, i thanked Him for my teammates and my coaches, i thanked Him for my ability to run and for the opportunity to lead the team, i couldn't thank Him enough nor will i ever be able to thank Him, but it's always nice to know you are appreciated, and He is so appreciated. i could not live without my God. i would have no Hope without my God.
i ended up winning with a 21:37 with a new course record. the whole team ran exceptionally well. besides injuries and a few sick people, we had an outstanding performance. i project that i am a good 2 months ahead of where i was last year at this same time.
i hope to continue on this path, stay healthy, and GRIND A LITTLE MORE FOR MY STATE.
we are ranked 5th in the SEC and 4th in the Region. but.....quite honestly....it’s going to be fun proving the pre-season polls wrong ;)