Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Super Saturdays

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This winter I added a new season to my sports:  indoor track.  I'd seen a few things about it before, but never considered it.  I thought it was too out-of-my-league and too far away to get to any races.  However, I found out about a new thing in my area led by Knoxville Youth Athletics to get more kids involved in track.  Two qualifying meets were put on by the group and other meets' times were also considered in order to qualify for a "state meet" at ETSU in February.
I looked into it, asked around, and decided to sign up.

The first meet I went to was so exciting!  The atmosphere at Vanderbilt is intense.  The indoor track facility is top-notch, and of course the city is sooo great.  I really had no idea how things would go because I hadn't been training.  I hadn't even run near as much as I thought I might because we had so much snow.  This actually encouraged me a lot to see what I could do on a random, quasi-training schedule during these snow days

I love travel!  It is just so much fun to mix things up.  On the way there the night before, we stopped at a couple of my favorite places:  Salsarita's for dinner and Sweet Frog for dessert.  I gotta have some great fuel the night before a race!  I also did some verse searching in the car, and got so into some that I found that I created a special post about them right there from my phone.
The Holiday Inn we stayed at in Nashville had the best continental breakfast that I have had!  I loaded up!  Fresh fruit--and not the cheap stuff!  Oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, waffles, boiled eggs, soo many toppings--even chocolate chips and cool whip!  Those sweet things and more (like muffins) were great to see, but I stuck with eggs, fruit, oatmeal, and can't forget the coffee!  The mustache cups were my favorite part. Mom and dad had a little more wiggle room since they didn't have to worry about it coming back up later.

 
After the race was over, I had several snapchats from some of my friends who were there and had taken pictures and videos of me!  It made me laugh to see myself, but I love my friends' support.  I was also snapchat famous for 24 hours on their stories.
Vanderbilt's indoor facility is brand new and upscale.  There is a special section for the 100m length and field events off to the side, but the best part is the huge video screen.  I love to watch myself during races so I know where I stand.
I was totally shocked at how this went!  I felt fantastic!  I was worried because I hadn't done any real training and thought it would be so tough to go race pace.  After almost missing the start of the mile (I didn't know where to go to start, and I forgot my number; luckily I was in the 2nd heat), I felt like God had given me wings during that race!  Heck, in both of them I felt like I was flying!  It's a feeling that is hard to explain unless you have had it and you just know.  I ran my fastest mile time (5:10) which is almost as fast as my 1600 PR (5:04) even though the mile is a bit longer.  Between events I tried to stay loose, but I could feel the soreness coming on already.  My body wasn't used to this!  The 2 mile was the same story.  The gun went off and I broke free!  I felt like I was flying again!  My shoe came untied before I made it even halfway, but I kept on keeping on, finishing in another 2 mile PR (10:56), almost to my 3200 PR (10:50).  I even had a kick in these races!  If you don't know me, I do not sprint.  Days when I have a kick are seriously God-given.  I was excited; the day had gone better than I ever had imagined, and I felt great!  I also got to talk with the Vandy coach and talk/run with some friends that I hadn't seen in a long time from several different states including, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida!  This day was one of the best blessings.
After leaving campus, we went to Chili's for dinner and drove through downtown to find a Sweet CeCe's for dessert!  Sweet ending to a sweeter day! 

The times I ran in the Vanderbilt Invitational qualified me for the (unofficial) state meet in February.  As this picture shows, I loved the mustache cups with the interchangable cardboard sleeves so much, I saved a bunch to use for travel.  Race day coffee just tastes different!
 
These races were kind of like the ones at Vanderbilt.  I hadn't had any real training, just running here and there when I could and working with what God gave me.  I actually had fun flying by the seat of my pants for once.  This meet was kind of backwards.  The 2 mile was before the 1 mile, but that turned out to be a blessing.  I went into the 2 mile with the 2nd fastest time, but I actually kind of like that; it gives me a little stronger push from inside.  The girl who was my biggest competition is Taylor Cuneo, who was only a freshman this year, but made HUGE steps (pun intended) toward being a national-scale elite runner this year, running some really fast times at some huge races, including Nike Cross Regionals and Nationals.  I knew she was fast and would be with me the whole time.
It was a great race, and I am so thankful to have had her there with to push me so much!  I'm even more thankful, though, that God gave me the adrenaline to keep me going, not only the same pace through the race, but to get even faster the farther into it I got.  It helps to know that there is someone really fast behind you and a state title on the line, but to have that feeling is something only God can fill you with.  Only a couple strides separated us for about 3/4 of the race, but the last half mile I really kicked it in and pulled away.  Again, I don't have a kick, but those last few (indoor tracks are shorter distances--this one was 283 meters) laps were faster than I think I have ever run a half mile.  And it felt amazing. 
It had always been my dream to win a state championship as an individual (my xc team has won it back-to-back), and I finally got it.  And a new PR of 10:46!  This time also qualified me for New Balance Indoor Nationals, but I didn't get to go.  Downtown New York makes for a much too pricey trip.  I'll take a national #4 time for sure, though!
 
I also ran the mile, but it wasn't as good as my time from Vanderbilt.  I was totally okay with it, though, since the 2 mile was such a success!  I prayed during my run in between races to stay loose, first of all to thank God for how amazing that race was and to pray that whatever happened in the next one was what He wanted.  If I was to have another race like that first one, great, but if not, that's okay, because the 2 mile was more than I had imagined!  I stayed in front with the top girls for the first half mile, but after that, most of them sped up, but I was already going as fast as I could!  Those girls have more quickness than I do, but I love getting out there with them to push me and make me better.
These are your 2015 indoor state champions in the 2 mile!
Luke ran a blazing time, too, and went on to Indoor Nationals a few weeks later.

I was really excited to get to run my cool down around the ETSU campus with the Rizor twins, Jessica and Julia.  Somehow twins in TN running always seem to be fast!  They will be freshmen running for UT next fall.  I had gotten to talk to them a few times during cross country, but didn't know them too well until this day.  We decided to run together after the race, and had a blast!  We talked about running, school, college, snow, friends, food, funny stories, and more, passing the miles quickly and painlessly.  The only thing that took us inside was the lack of time left in the day.
Running is just one of those things that leads you to all kinds of situtaions and relationships that can't be found anywhere else.  I am so thankful to have met all the amazing people that I have through this sport.  We all support each other and stay in touch.  Even on the start line of a huge race (which you have no idea how intense it can be unless you've been there), we can crack jokes and love each other.  It's not like other sports where you have opponents against you; you have competitors with you.  We're all out there for the same goal:  make it across the finish line as fast as you can.
 
Another thing we talked about was how they had always wanted to be in one of those RunnerSpace contests, so I suggested we take a #RaceDaySelfie picture, and lookie there!  There we are!
Thanks to my proud Dad, this picture was on Facebook, and I was getting text messages before I could even get to my bag to change my shoes.
Another thanks to Coach Owens who just-so-happened to be at ETSU and took a few minutes to come by and watch me race!
This was one of the main verses I did a Bible study with on the ride to the race.
I've fallen prey to "desires of the flesh (Ephesians 2:3)" and been discouraged and had a "downcast soul (Psalm 43:5)," but there is one thing that keeps me going--God.  No matter how hopeless I feel, this is the only thing that can keep me from giving up.  There is always reason to "praise Him, my Savior and my God (Psalm 43:5)."
These great times of success are wonderful times to praise Him, too of course!  Whether on the mountaintop or the valley, nothing can compare to the fullness that God can put in your life.
 
OH but things got better!
After grabbing a bite to eat, we rushed home and I cleaned up and threw together an overnight bag to go to Manley Baptist to meet up with my small group for the last worship service of Motown Madness!
After leaving the worship service, we all headed back to Patty's for some snacks and small group!   I was sad that I only got to spend one night with these girls, but we enjoyed it!
A good group picture and a goofy group picture!

Jenna and Julia developed a special bond over the weekend.  They crack me up.
The Sunday morning afterwards, we were all dead.  As Julia said, "The struggle to smile."  Roxanna pulled one off!

No more apathy!  No more not caring about our friends who are lost.  That is something that is truly important!  If a person doesn't have a true relationship with Christ, they are going to hell.  That's a fact.  Forever in flames.  Stop and think about how you would feel if your mom, sister, neighbor, teammate, classmate, best friend, etc will have that eternity.  Does that make you sad?  Then do something!

The Wednesday night after every special weekend, we have a share night.  These are some awesome guys who got up and spoke what God had placed on their hearts to share with us.
 
I was exhausted after this weekend.  A day of racing and a late night of barely sleeping (and on the floor), I was dead.  It was all worth it!  I enjoyed all that Christ filled me with.  Getting to end the weekend with some of my favorite people in the presence of the Lord is such a blessing!