Tuesday, June 3, 2014

#TSSAATF State 2014

On Wednesday, May 21st, it would've been our last day of school, but I got to leave early anyways!  It was the day before state for the girls, since none of us had to run in any prelims.  I still wanted to get a run in, so I got my mom to drop me off (I didn't drive because we didn't want to leave my Jeep at school for 3 days) behind the school at the track, where I left my bags so I could get started on a run.  My coach wrote me a note the previous day so that I could get into class late if I didn't get done in time.  Around 8:30, I headed inside to finish a test, warm up breakfast, and do some other quick things before we loaded the bus to leave for Murfreesboro.  After having lunch at Firehouse Subs in Knoxville, we drove the rest of the way to the hotel, checked in, picked up the coaches packet, then went back to the hotel to get in our rooms.  Not long after that, we headed out to dinner at Olive Garden.  This was already a fun trip, and we were just getting started.  It was the smallest (in number of people) trip that I had been on with West High sports, so the little bus was FULL of laughs!

I'm not one of those people who thinks that I have to have pasta every day leading up to a race.  You don't need to carb load for short races or even really a 5k, so I just did what I had been doing at home and had mostly meat and veggies!  This is a new thing that I thought sounded great, so I ordered chicken meatballs on the side.  They were kind of spicy, and were also in a yummy sauce!  My favorite part of the meal.
This was a new menu item as well, and I don't even know how to pronounce it:  Chicken Abruzzi.  I also added crab meat to it.  It is full of yummy vegetables and beans, so this meal tonight had most of my favorites! 
After leaving there, we walked around and did a little shopping before going back to the hotel to clean up before bed.
This is the view when you first walk into the lobby of Murfreesboro's Embassy Suites.  We knew we were getting to live fancy for a couple days!
This is the fountain and pond area in the lobby/dining areas around the elevators.
The hotel elevators had mirror ceilings!
This is the Caffiena's Marketplace, open from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm in the hotel next to the lobby, where you can buy all kinds of snacks, drinks, bakery goods, coffee, magazines, and all kinds of odd-and-in things.
This is the nice little mini kitchen area we had in our rooms.  It was complete with a sink, fridge, microwave, and coffee maker!  Our rooms had two queen beds in one room, this kitchen in the middle, and a room with couch, tables, desk, and tv for relaxing.
The last Hilton-owned hotel that I had stayed at in Charlotte, NC did not provide complimentary breakfast, but at this one, everyone gets the buffet and made-to-order station!  I have never seen a complimentary breakfast with so much to offer!  Starting down the line was fruit and yogurt, then oatmeal, grits, and toppings, then hot things: French toast, biscuits, gravy, diced potatoes, eggs, and even bowls of salsa and bottles of hot sauce.  On the sides were cereals, pastries, and breakfast and soft drinks.  There was also a separate line off to the side where you could get a made-to-order omelette, panckes, bacon, and sausage.
This is my roommate for the trip and me about to dig into our breakfast.  I always said on cross country trips that I wished we could stay at a hotel when I could actually enjoy the breakfast without having to worry about racing right after, and now I finally can!  A lot of track races are later in the day, where cross country is usually in the morning, so I was excited getting to chill out in the morning.
One of the drink machines had different Sunkist Drinks.  The one I tried and loved was mango flavored, vitamin infused water.  I also had to have coffee, of course.
After breakfast, we went back to our rooms to hang out for a while.  Chantal and Cherie came down the hall to mine and Katlyn's room, then even Coach Sanders came to hang out and talk for a while!  He knew where the party was at.
We had a great time, learning, sharing, giving input for future races and training, and laughing at and with each other.  He just thinks that we are all so funny.  Especially Katlyn; she gives us more laughs than anyone.  Her personality is just so bright and carefree!
She also thinks Coach Sanders has really white teeth.
And that if we just added salad dressing to the grass, we wouldn't have starving people in the world.
Just a couple funny Katlyn moments; Mrs. Bowen, one of the other track coaches, claims that we all act like we have tarets sometimes. 
Sitting on the bed in our room, Katlyn was looking at our great view (of the mountains, not the parking lot) and said, "Oh, hey, people!  Haha Kenzie!  It's your mom and dad!"  I ran over there and took a picture to send to them to tell them that I was creeping on them.
We have great support on our team!  At conference, we had a group of 3 freshmen girls spend the night to make shirts and hair bows to match and come to the meet at school the next day all decked-out in their outfits and hair-dos to cheer us on!  Jessica, on the right, is Emily's sister, and Abby is Quintin's sister.  They both also run, but did not qualify, but they got to make the trip with us!  They made their own t-shirts and painted their faces to add to their blood-curdling screams while we raced!
The blinged bows tying up the back were a nice touch!
The state meet each year is held at MTSU as part of the Spring Fling.  Murfreesboro was crazy this week, because all the spring sports were having their state competitions at one time.  There was baseball, track, tennis, and more all in one place.  It's a sports palooza!
I believe that this is my favorite picture from all season!  In between the 4x800 (who placed 3rd) and the 1600 was probably our best time to be all together at the meet, so we snapped a few pictures.  This trip was probably the best sports trip I had ever been on.  From the ride up there, to meals and shopping the past day and that morning, we had so much fun and laughs.  I can't say how blessed I am to have these girls in my life.
It helped ease my nerves, too, as Cherie led a prayer with us before my first race!
I was so nervous for these races!  It's always a lot of pressure coming off of really good races to do even better, but not every day can be your best day.  Nerves, odd schedules (including that the 3200 was at 9:30 there, 10:30 at home when I would usually be well asleep), and lack of big race experience for me threw me off a bit.  I knew these races would be super tough and fast going against so many talented runners.  They make me better though!
I prayed a lot that I would just run however God wants me to; my start-line-saying is "Always do your best, and God will do the rest!"  It is still scary.
I went out there and gave it all I had, but didn't have my best races.  I kept with the leaders until the last lap of both races; I was determined to put up a fight, even though I didn't think my 1600 had as much of a chance to win.  I finished that one in 6th place in 5:08.  The 3200 was where I was ranked 1st going into it, and actually led several laps of the race.  It just wasn't meant for me to get the gold.  I ended up 3rd in that with 11:01, which really disappointed me because my time of 10:50 is still standing as this year's top time in the state for that event.  I could've won.
Disappointment is humbling, but that can be good.  I learned a lot this week about countless things, and I can't wait to get back into it!  I have to embrace every step of the way and make them all count.  I learned from Ryan Hall's book, Running with Joy, a cool quote I apply to my racing as well:  "I may not always win or do something amazing, but I will always have the strength to do what God has called me to race for."  The verse that goes along with that is 2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you; My power is perfected in weakness." and the surrounding passage.  That makes me feel great about my so-called "failures" because I know it's all got a reason!
A little advice:  never let disappointment bring you down.  God is the only one who will never disappoint, so trust in Him, and find your joy in Him alone!

After my last race, Cherie came on my cool down with me, and we had a great time!  I love getting to talk to her; she's so encouraging, funny, and understands me!  We ran around the sports complexes of the campus a couple times, and felt great!  It's amazing what good company can do for you.  Over the past year, Cherie, her sister, Katlyn, and I have grown a lot closer, and I am glad, because I have needed these girls here to help me through this life!  I can trust them and know that they will give me their honest opinion and pray for and with me.  We have all grown closer to the Lord through each other this year, and are willing to tell others about it!
"How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?"  1 Thessalonians 3:9
It was after 10:00 by the time we got back to the field where our parents and other two girls were waiting, which means that most restaurants were closed.  The bus with the coaches and a couple boys who were along for the ride went to Longhorn Steakhouse, but we didn't want to do that.  We wanted fun and fast!  All day we had made up our plans to get something sweet, Chick-fil-a, or just go by a gas station or Wal-Mart to pick up some ice cream, fruit, cereal, and/or things like that.  CFA was closed, and Mom and Dad said no to the last plan listed here (which happened to be us girls' favorite), so we found a Sonic.  We met there and sat outside to enjoy shakes and blasts!
We had been saying all week that after this last meet is over, we were going to party.  I was so ready for a time to break free.  This hotel was so stinking fancy, we wanted to go explore, too.  I am one of those people who can be really up tight sometimes, and I go to bed super early because I like my sleep, and know that I need it to go through each day, but this night I didn't care.  When we got back, Katlyn and I changed into our bathing suits and met the twins down in the fitness room to try out the equipment, play with the weights and balls, and tests out the water machines.  Katlyn, riding the bike up there, is so goofy.  The twins had to get up early the next morning to go visit Lipscomb, so they didn't swim, but took a couple pictures for us. 
I wasn't even going to feel the water; I just ran and jumped.
We had a ton of fun playing around in the pool like little kids, which I had not done in I-don't-know-how-long.  We were going to get in the hot tub, but some people were hogging it, just taking up space, barely sitting in it.  We thought it was a funny situation; we ended up swimming with and talking to Emma Mashburn and some of her teammates in the pool, too!
When the pool closed at midnight, all the barely-wet hot-tubbers took all the towels, so Katlyn and I stood there shivering for over ten minutes until another worker came to bring us some more.  Then we headed up to the room to take nice, hot showers and get ready for bed.  By the time we laid down, it was 1:30!
The next morning, we were even more excited about going to the breakfast buffet, because we could really eat whatever we wanted now!  I got a plate of cantaloupe and honeydew, some of that yummy mango water again, and hit the omelette line!  I got him to make it with peppers, tomatoes, and onion, then topped it with some salsa.  After I finished that, it was just so yummy, I went back for another one.
After packing up and checking out, our day consisted of shopping!  I don't even have to buy things to get the enjoyment out of shopping.  I just love to look!  However, yesterday I did rack up at Dick's on tank tops.  We stopped in the Victoria's Secret in one shopping center so that I could take advantage of the Pink 7-for-$26 sale!  I needed some new undies and Pink is my favorite, so sales are good.  Sales are good on any store.
In Bath & Body Works, I am always fascinated by the scents and designs; I often buy the product because of the labels.  Marketing works well on me.  I even have scrapbook pages with all my pretty labels that I have gone through!  I didn't but either of these, but I think that they are just precious!
"Cool as a Cucumber"
I also love peas!
I didn't buy or find this while we were shopping, but I always love miniatures of anything.  This little mouthwash is the one I had in my cosmetic bag for the trip; it tastes great, too!
After we had shopped around all late morning and afternoon, we had to get some lunch.  It was around 3:30, so it was kinda like a brunch but between lunch and dinner.  So it was a linner.  Or dunch.  Anyways, Murfreesboro is FULL of places to eat, shop, and pretty much do anything you want.  Everywhere you go there is a shopping center.  We had never been to Chipotle, but I had heard good things about it, so that is where we went to eat.  I don't know if all their restaurants are like this (I hope not!), but this one looked like crap inside.  Hopefully, it is because the building is not finished.  There was literally nothing inside but wood ceilings and walls, metal tables and chairs, and the food counter.  Dad was mad at me for picking this place and threatened me with, "This better be good."  It had been a hard enough day on all our nerves as it was, and I thought I was about to meet my end!  However, the food ended up being very good!  The selection on the bar is not near as diverse as Salsarita's (aka my favorite restaurant), but they definitely gave you plenty of guacamole and good taste!  Above is my burrito bowl and cute water cup that even tells me what it is a cup for.  We ate outside since it was really hot!
Finally before heading home, we went back to the track to watch my teammate and All-American cross country runner Quintin run in the 1600, which we knew was going to be one heck of a race.  We have some great runners here in Tennessee, believe it or not.  He placed 2nd, just hundredths off of his PR.  The winner was another one of my friends, only a junior at Daniel Boone, Adam Barnard
.  He has become one amazing runner over the past year or so!
This is one of the tank tops that I got at Dick's on Thursday.  It goes perfect with my lifestyle!  I just love to run and hope to do it for a long, long time!  Although not only in running as a sport, but in my whole life, does this mean a lot to me.  I'll sum it up in this Bible verse: 
"...Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 3:13-14