Before The Race-
All of team USA traveled over to the match at the same time. I was one of the later events, so I had a while until I was to compete. In an effort to stay calm I stayed inside the warm up area instead of entering the stadium and spent my time either watching a couple of Kenyans sprinter shuffle or watching the races on a big screen TV. Usually I run slowly on my warm ups, but the Kenyan way seemed extreme – there the best though, so I decided to go slower than normal on my own warm up.
Unfortunately we weren’t doing great in the team competition, I wasn’t sure if that meant team USA was depending more or less on me for points. I certainly didn’t want to ruin it for the team, but at the same time I didn’t want to put more pressure on myself than I had to.
The warm up felt really easy – probably because I was going so slowly! I did all my drills and dynamic stretches, but forgot to do a long stride. By the time I realized that they had already called check-in for the 3k. At check-in I did some more drills and pops, but wasn’t able to stride until I got on the track right before the race. My pops felt great, so I just did more of them than usual. I also ran faster strides than usual, which I think helps make the beginning of the race feel easier, but tend to slack on sometimes.
The British girl took it from the gun and no one went with her. I tucked in behind the Swedish girl, she had already ran 9:15 this season and her PR is 8:50 or something close to that, so I figured she knew what she was doing. She was in 3rd and I was directly behind her in 4th. The first lap was fast, but that’s the only split I know; after that I tried not to look at the clock. After a few laps the girl in 2nd fell behind me, so now I was in 3rd. Throughout the race someone kept surging up next to me (I think it was the Commonwealth selection), I kept my elbows out and made sure there was no space between me and the girl in front of me. If she wanted to run in lane 2 that was fine, if she wanted to run behind me that was cool too, if she took the lead I was going to go with her, but I would not let her cut in front of me. We had all clearly let the British girl go and unless she hit a brick wall and literally couldn’t move her legs anymore she was going to win, but the race was on for second! With about 600 to go someone came up and passed the Swedish girl, so I went with her. With 1 lap to go we had gapped the rest of the field – this was it, 200 meters to go! Coming off the first turn of the last lap I tried to surge past her. She surged as well, forcing me to run in lane 2 around the curve – which is what I was trying to avoid. I had no choice though, we were neck and neck coming off the curve, but I found an extra gear and was able to out lean her at the line.
I was confident in myself the entire time. About halfway through the race I knew I was going to get 2nd. I had such a strong confidence about it (which is unusual for me) – I was just waiting until the last lap to make a move. During the race I could hear people cheering for me – it was inspiring and encouraging. I wanted to do well and score as many points as I could for the team – that was why I was there. Goal number 1: check! The race felt so much easier than what I ran in Washington and I had no idea what my time was. When I got back into the warm up area the USA staff told me I had ran 9:08 – a 20 second PR!!!!!!! Goal number 2: get a qualifying time for USA’s: check!
Everyone was inside the stadium and I wanted to celebrate with the team, so I started walking over to find them! On the way I ran in to Dan (the 3k guy), who was finishing his cool down, and realized I had to do that too! Halfway through the cool down it hit me that I just won $1500!!! I think I shut off my brain during the race so I wouldn’t think about times, but I’m not sure how to turn it back on!
I’m super happy with the race; tactically it was perfect. I felt great and think I can run even faster. It was a championship race though and I wasn’t going to lose the points for second by trying to go with the leader. It was a huge PR and solidifies that I’m doing everything right. Also, it felt really good to represent USA well!