Before The Race:
I went to the track several hours early. I like being able to watch the other events and cheer on my speedy friends running shorter races. Instead of feeling panicked, the bustling atmosphere tends to fuel me to my best races.
An hour and a half from race time, with my sports psychologists advice, I did one last visualization of the race, a few deep breaths, and reminded myself of the mental cues I planned on using once the pain set in.
During The Race:
My goal was to quietly sit in the pack running the Olympic Trials A-standard pace, not get greedy and book my ticket to Eugene. At certain points it felt like a jog, I embraced that feeling and tried not to trip over my own feet. Other times thoughts of doubt and pain crept into my mind, but I pushed them aside, reminding myself that this was when the race begins – anyone can make it the first half, the second 5k is when champions are made.
I went directly to the back of the race, snuggled up next to the inner rail and did absolutely no work for 19 laps. Several times I thought about making a move, but I kept telling myself to be patient and let it feel easy. Katie McGregor was leading us perfectly, slightly under A standard pace. I knew if I stayed with the pack I’d make the trials, so I sat until I couldn’t bare to look at the backs of my competitors any longer. With 6 to go the fun began – I eyed down women one by one, thinking of my sister’s advice from years ago, “pick ‘em off like a cherry” she used to tell me, “get ‘em one at a time”.
After The Race:
I hugged everyone I knew and some people I don’t, shed tears of joy from my baby blues, and shared a long embrace with my mom. A ridiculous smile is still plastered on my face and I don’t have a negative word to say about the race. Honestly, I don’t think I could have ran any smarter, however I do wonder if I could have ran faster. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter though, everyone at the trials will be standing on the same starting line.