Hi New Hampshire!
First, I would like to start with a huge congratulations to all who competed at States this past weekend, particularly to Madeline Hunt and the girls of Souhegan, who took both the DII individual title and team title this past weekend! I guess she who has the will to win really couldn’t be beaten!
Over the past weekend I flew to Fayetteville, Arkansas to compete in our conference championship (SECs). We arrived Wednesday afternoon in Fayetteville and raced Friday morning. Over the course of the three days that we were there, the action was almost constant. We landed in a small airport that doubled as a museum, but not a single restaurant (which became a problem on the way home when we were all starving!). When we got off our flight, we saw many families lined up with “Welcome Home!” posters, and we watched as soldiers entered the airport and were enveloped into the arms of their loved ones. A big thank you to all who have served, are serving, or are going to serve. We then departed for the hotel. As soon as we checked into the hotel, we dropped our bags and departed for the course to do a run-through Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately, we got lost and confused about the turning on the course, so we ended up running half of it backwards! It was still productive, however, because we got a feel for the terrain and footing. Fayetteville is probably most comparable to the course at MOCs, but a little less flat. It’s hard to compare anything we run on to a course back in NH because, well, college courses are incredibly boring. The course was beautiful, though, tucked down a dirt road in around some of the agricultural fields and a small pond. It was all grass and packed dirt, with a downhill finish.
After finishing our run, we packed up our belongings, took a few pictures, and made our way back to the hotel. By the time we had all cleaned up, we were starving. Luckily, there were lots of places to eat nearby. A few of us went to a hibachi restaurant across from the hotel and absolutely filled ourselves to the brim. The next morning, we were up and at the course again (running it correctly this time) for our premeet. We jogged, did our strides, and then the most exciting part of the day came. When an athlete gets the opportunity to run at SECs, he/she also gets an “Olympic Gift.” At the course, there was a line of tables set up with merchandise ranging from Beats headphones to a Kate Spade watch, a wireless, waterproof speaker, Apple TV, a Ninja blender, and more. Each of us got to select one gift to receive and have sent back to campus! Seeing as I just lost my headphones, I selected a pair of wireless Beats, and I’m wicked excited for when they come in. I then spent the evening with my parents, who flew into Arkansas that day.
Race day was early and came quickly. Our race went off at 10am CDT. Up at 5:30am, again, I went out for a little shakeout to get the blood flowing. A creature of habit, I threw down another PB&J and some crackers before heading off to the course. Not nervous at all, (just kidding, I was really nervous), we lined up eight girls across before the start of the gun. Twelve of our girls ran in total. When the gun went off, it was a mad dash across a soccer field until the course narrowed, and let me say, that was one of the most crowded starts I’ve experienced. I also probably should have gotten out better. That’s something I constantly need to work on. We muscled our way through the whole 6k, which had it’s ups and downs (literally and figuratively). I was fortunate to be able to see teammates the entire time and consistently work with or toward them. The last 2k was definitely the best part, and where I think I ran my best. However, I would not consider this to have been my best race. It was pretty mediocre. There wasn’t anyone who had a spectacular race that day, at least on our team.
And then something happened. All of the results from the race were gone. The timing system had stopped working and none of the results posted online were correct. Each coach had to go watch the replay of the finish and identify his or her girls as they crossed the line. It took a little while before we had any official results, which also weren’t that great for us as a team.
Alabama women did not have a spectacular day by any means at SECs. We know it. Coach knows it. Now it’s just up to us to prove to everyone else that we aren’t a team that chokes. If we’ve hit the bottom, then we have nowhere to go but up. Regionals is a great place to go up. The effort was there; it just didn’t come together the way we needed it to. But, you live and you learn and you get over the bad races as quick as you can. Short memories for great athletes. And let’s be honest, as runners, we definitely have more bad days than good, but the good ones are so great that we keep coming back. All you need to do is have a little faith, in whatever you have faith in. In yourself, in your teammates, in your religion; it’s different for each of us. Personally, I have faith in these girls, this team and all the training we’ve completed up until this point. Calling it quits because of one bad race isn’t going to get us anywhere. We’ll just have to come back better than ever.