On Saturday I’m racing at the US Cross Country National Championships. I’ve been to this race before, placing 10th in 2011, the last World Championships qualifier. [The top 6 finishers are selected to represent the USA at Worlds, which take place every other year. As a result the fields are much deeper on odd numbered years.]
There is a certain feeling inside of me that if I don’t place higher than 10th, I’ve failed. That is without a doubt untrue, but, regardless of what is logical I’ve put pressure on myself to improve significantly, to show I’m back from injured reserve, and to validate the unrewarded (thus far) investment I’ve made the past 4 months. The catch? The course, entry depth, and conditions are all variables. Which, in Allie-land, means I must run faster and place higher in worse conditions (I’ll be comparing St. Louis to 2011’s San Diego Championship).
The truth? I can run faster. I can place in the top 10. And, I am back from the injury. But, how tough am I? According to the entry list there are 20 or so people that could place in the top 10. We’re all fit and most have been tearing up the roads this fall. At this point it’s more of a mental than physical battle. We’re all going into it wired and hyped up, because, regardless of if you’ve been lighting the roads on fire or have been injured the past year you’ve only got one chance to race the 2013 US Cross Country Championships. One chance to make the USA World Championship team. One chance to display months of hard work. The question is, who can handle the pressure?
— I want to give a special shout out to the man that read my blog as I wrote it on an airplane barf bag, was genuinely intrigued about my achievements as well as hardships, and exemplified an amount of empathy and kindness you’d expect of many men, not one. Thanks, Scott! —