Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 10th-Sectionals Surprise

Saturday, May 10th, 2014
aka the best day of racing thus far in my life
Going into these races, I was not expected to win.  I didn't even expect myself to win either.  In both my events, I was ranked 2nd behind a senior from Hardin Valley, Emma Mashburn, who will be going to run at Furman in the fall.  I have known her as one of my biggest running competitors since I started high school cross country, and now track as well.  Although she is a great cross country runner, I think she does better on the track, where her speed can beat out many others on the shorter and flatter races.  I thought I may have a chance, at least to push her some, especially since you never know what God has planned!  I also beat her in all the cross country races I have been in against her for the past 2 years.  However, I am at a disadvantage big time for experience on the track, but that is why there is a first time for everything!
I was also super excited that this section I meet was at Science Hill like the last time I had  my best races, and the weather was pretty hot and sunny, which is where I tend to have an advantage.

If you race, you know what nerves can do to your stomach.  Closer to race time, I could feel that I was more nervous than I thought!  I always get more nervous about the 1600, because it is so much more intense than anything I've been used to.  The shorter the race, the smaller the margin for error.  I've also always been used to running long distances, so it has been a challenge getting myself ready to race short ones!  I'm getting the hang of it, though.  I knew I was going to have to start fast to get a good spot and stay fast to keep myself in position to have a chance.  A PR is always a good goal, but I don't usually care about time as long as I'm in the place I want to be.  My main goal is to just run as hard as I can through the finish.  I don't want to start out too fast, but I also couldn't let myself get started too slow and have too much ground to cover in the second half.  Track has a lot more strategy than you realize until you have to do it.  Another reason I am a fan of long distance-more time to think about what you're doing.
From the time the gun went off, it was us two in the lead.  I stayed right behind her, then decided after we broke in around the first curve on the back straight, I would step in front.  I stayed there for a little while, but she passed me back.  At the 300 mark of the 3rd lap, my favorite spot to make my move, I accelerated in front and kicked it in from there.  You have no idea how scary it is to be leading a race at that point.  You can't see them, but they can see you, and all you can think is, "Oh my gosh, she's right behind me; I gotta go.  I can't let her catch me.  Oh gosh, I gotta go fast; Jesus help me!"  That last lap is always where I just push all I have into that finish line, especially in the last 100 meters, because I do not want to get beat that close to the end. 
I surprised everyone, including myself.  I was not supposed to win that race, but then, I had also never had anyone to push me like that.  God gave me good feeling legs this day!  I broke my PR by 10 seconds, finishing in 5:04, also breaking the school 1600 record by 4 seconds and improving my place for state by many places.
One down, one to go.

It had rained all morning, clearing up to be beautiful for the 1600 and other afternoon races, but by the time I did warm up #2, it clouded up, then began to rain again before the 3200.  I hate rain.  By the time I was about half way through my cool down it stopped, though.  We started out this one almost the same, Emma and I in front, but I took the lead from the break and kept it, since I had a little more confidence that I could take her today, especially feeling so good.  I kept that lead through the whole race, stretching it out a few steps each lap (as I knew because I could hear my friend's dad yelling for me each lap).  That last lap again, I gave it all I had, blazing my way to a huge PR of 10:50.  That was 14 seconds off my old best time, and moved me into first in the state, a time that still stands for the 2014 season.  This was the most worn out I'd been at the end of a race before.  I was speechless, but for two reasons:  one, I shocked myself and everyone at the meet; two, I was completely out of breath!  People along the sides were telling me how good I did, but I could barely spit out a thank you!  They said that was okay, just breathe!  Dad also told me afterwards that that was the most spent he'd seen me at the finish.  That's good, though; I need to make myself run harder.
I felt overwhelmed at the end of it all to see what I am able to do.  As this is my first track season, this gave me confidence and excitement moving forward into future seasons.  It was a day for tears of joy!  I am beginning to see more opportunities to be able to share God's love through what I love to do!

After the race, I changed shoes and met up with one of my best racing friends I have made through track this season, Macy Carrier from Tennessee High, who is also a senior going to ETSU next fall.  She is the one in maroon that you can see from behind my shoulder with the #3.  She placed third in the 3200, qualifying for her first state meet, so I was very excited for her!  We had cooled down together several times this season and had lots of fun, so we headed out one more time!  She had to leave a little shorter to go back to her school's athletic banquet, so I ended up cooling down some more with Emma and another HV girl.  It's funny to me how in running sports, your competition is often your best friends, too.

I am very thankful to the Tennessee High coaches for being so kind and encouraging to me as well, and even helping me get some college attention!  They are always there cheering for me and taking pictures for me, even though I'm huge competition.

This may give you a laugh; it definitely made me and others at the meet laugh.
On the jumbotron screen, they had listed for each race, so many letters of the runners' first names then so many letters of the school they are from in the order that they are in the race at any given time.  During the 1600, I kept looking up there when I would be facing that direction, and I got really confused.  I saw a name in front that was Makenzi Morris.  "Who is that?"  I couldn't figure out why a Makenzi Morris was up there and I did not know who this was with almost the same name as me.  Then there was a Chantal Morris.  "Whoa!  There's another Chantal!  And she has a sister named Makenzi!  After the race I have to go tell Chantal that there's another Chantal!"  (One of my teammates is named Chantal).  Then after the race, I was sitting in the stands and realized, oh, that was Chantal and me.  My first name was too many letters and Morristown West was too many letters.  It was Makenzie from Morristown and Chantal from Morristown.  I felt really dumb, but everyone thought it was hilarious!