Track season has officially begun! It was so fun getting back on the track again. Earlier in the week, I had planned to go to Stanford to race a steeple but when I thought about it a little more, it made more sense to race locally at this point in the season so with the help of everyone at Flynn Sports Agency, I was able to change plans and race in Austin.
My goal for this race was to get on the track and get used to hurdling while racing again so I didn’t have a specific time goal in mind for this race. The other reason I didn’t have a time goal in mind is this: my focus right now is training, not racing. I needed this race to get into the “steeple rhythm” again but right now it’s time to train hard, not necessarily run really really fast. Running fast will come later if I can be patient and train well now so I didn’t let up on training before this one.
I love racing on the UT track; a lot of significant races have happened there for me from State meets in high school to West Preliminary rounds in college and now one of my first races as a pro. Some of the staff is even the same (like the guy who keeps the schedule rolling and yells at everyone over the loudspeaker if they’re not in line in time). That track holds a lot of memories for me so it was really fun to open up my season there. It was also fun for me because I got to see some people there who really encouraged me and wouldn’t have been all the way out in Cali. One of the Baylor trainers, Brother Kevin, was at the meet and gave me a huge hug before the race. He’s always so uplifting and his positivity always gets me pumped to race. I also got to see my best friend and her parents. They surprised me and came to watch and their cheering during the race encouraged me to keep pushing myself when the race got hard.
Mentally beforehand, I was really excited for the race and ready to put out my best effort. I knew my legs would feel tired from training but I had made up my mind that I was going to run as well as I could and really push myself even with heavy legs. The thing I was most nervous for in this race was the water jump. My first time over a water jump this season was going to be the first water jump of the race so I was honestly nervous about face planting and swimming out of the first jump. To counter that, I decided beforehand that I was going to be strong going into the jump. The natural response to running at a barrier is to slow down but I knew if I accelerated into the jump, I would land farther out of the pit, have a better jump, and there would be a much smaller chance of taking a swim. No matter how nervous I was, I was going to accelerate into the jump.
That being said, here’s a summary of what was going through my brain before the race:
Yayyy track season I’m pumped for steeple!! I haven’t practiced water jumps at all what if I fall (picture self falling)? Don’t do that self how is that going to help you (picture self going over water jump successfully a few times)? You know how to do a water jump, you’ve done it before. You’re going to accelerate into the jump and not be afraid. That’s what’s happening, get it in your mind and go for it. I’m scared, this race is going to hurt. All races hurt, you know how to push yourself you’re going to be fine. This is the first race, focus on your form and relax and have fun. What if I don’t want to hurt? This is what you train for, this is the fun part. We’re doing this. You love steeple, once the gun goes off the nerves will go away and it’ll just be you and the track and that’s your favorite place to be. My legs don’t feel good. What if I can’t go fast? You’re overanalyzing things, you’ve been having great workouts and even if you don’t feel great, you’re going to race and you’re going to do your best. You are strong, you are ready, and this is going to be fun. It’s the first race of the season, just go out there and see where you’re at, no pressure.
During the race, I felt very strong physically and mentally. I felt that my hurdles and water jumps were the best I had ever run during a race. I’ve been working to improve my hurdle form this whole year so it was nice to see that the work has paid off. One thing I could work on is the start of my race because this one was not a good start. The water jump at the UT track is an outside water jump so the first barrier is about 20 meters after the start of the race. I was slow off the line and a couple of girls cut in front of me before the barrier and I got boxed in for the first 50 meters of the race. Luckily I was able to get out and get to the front but that cost me a few seconds. I had to tell myself to stay relaxed and not get worked up from a bad start. I decided take my focus away from how I started and place it on my form for the next barrier and upcoming water jump. I had a good barrier, then forced myself to accelerate on the water jump and I stayed strong and on my feet! I celebrated a little too long in my mind about staying on my feet through the jump so I wasn’t focused for the next barrier coming up and I ended up stutter stepping over it. That helped to refocus me so after a couple rough patches on the first lap, I set my mind on my form for the hurdles and water jumps for the rest of the race. There wasn’t anyone near me for the rest of the race so around the 5th lap it was a little hard to push myself but the last two laps I was able to set my mind on finishing really strong (plus I had some great people watching and cheering me on). Overall, I was happy with my form and for pushing myself even when I felt tired and didn’t have people around me. I can definitely work on starting a bit faster although usually the first barrier is after the 200 meter mark. I felt improvement in this race and I learned through it as well so I couldn’t ask for more! So my thoughts during the race went like this:
Dang it, bad start. Oh my gosh I’m boxed in what do I do? Ok here comes the barrier don’t get tangled up in people, just wait until after the barrier to make a move. Ok the barrier’s cleared, get out of here. Sprint up to the front. Ok calm down now and relax, second barrier’s coming up. Cleared that. Oh man, here comes the water jump. You can do this. Just relax and accelerate into it. Accelerate accelerate accelerate. Nailed itttttttt! Yessss I can still do this! Oh dang it did not realize this barrier was coming up this fast. Ok that was an awkward way to get over the barrier self let’s not do that again. Focus on your form, you can do this. Don’t think about split times, you didn’t get a great start but you’re going to finish strong. I’m tired. Push yourself you can do this. (hear people yelling for me) People are here for you, you can keep pushing. You’re having a great race, keep going. You feel really fluid over these jumps, this is great! Keep going strong, it’s the last two laps you can go faster. No I can’t. Yes you can, you want to be strong at the end of your races, start that now. It’s going to hurt but you can handle it. All the way to the finish, you’re almost there! (cross line and see time) Yayyy I did it, that was a great opener and it was really fun!! Ok I’m tired now.
So that’s a summary of my thoughts during the race! I felt loved by so many people leading up to the race. Really, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who wished me luck and encouraged me through the week. I am surrounded by so many incredible people who push me to be my best and who are always there to support me so thank you if you are one of those people; you really make a difference in my life.
For now, it’s back to training and I’m excited to run a fast 1500 in a couple weeks to get some speed in these legs! Thanks for following me on my journey this year, get out there and run the world! 🙂