Thursday, April 22, 2010

Not So Nerves of Steel

After finally getting my muscles loosened up a bit, I was able to compete last week in Los Angeles.  There was still a bit of tightness in my back hamstring, but not nearly as bad as it had been the week before.  The workouts leading up to the meet were fairly light and technical in preparation for competition.  Los Angeles is five hour drive away so we headed out early Thursday morning to get into LA with some time to practice on the track before the meet.  When we finally got to the track, steeplechase was about to start, so we could get right onto the track for a workout.  We walked around a bit and did a light warm up on the field beside the track. Being at the track made me really excited to compete and finally put all my training to work.  We had a pretty quiet night, and when I woke up Friday morning I was more than ready to run.  I didn’t run till 1:55 so after breakfast I chilled then started to work on some mental preparation.  I went over my race in my head over and over again.  I slowed it down and tried to lay out what would be the best way to run my race.  The more I played the race out in my head the more excited I got.  The excitement slowly turned to nervousness.  The more I thought about it, the more ways I figured the race could also go wrong!  I tried to stop thinking about the race and just relax, but it was too late.  I had worked up my nerves too much, and now I had to try to bring them back down by race time. 

We got to the track by 12 and the stands were already filling with people. I walked around for a bit to get a feel of the atmosphere and to try and calm myself down.  I watched some of the races that were going on, and at 12:55 I started my warm up.  The music I listened too during my warm up calmed me down a bit and refocus on my race.  When I finally checked in and got my number I knew game time was right around the corner.  I started scoping out the other girls and tried to figure out who I would be running against.  I knew I was in the third heat, and in lane 8.  The lane wasn’t the best, but I knew I would be running against girls around the same calibre as me.  When the announcer called for my heat I got so excited and nervous I thought I was going to throw up!!  They gave us a couple minutes before the race to set up our blocks and do a couple practice starts.  I went to my lane and tried to refocus as I set up my blocks.  I went down into the start position for a practice start and something felt very off.  I looked down at my feet and realized I had set up my blocks the wrong way, and I had the wrong foot forward!  I quickly changed them up and proceeded to do a practice start.  As I walked back I could see the other girls were ready to go, so I sped up a bit.  I took a look at my blocks one more time, and saw that they were angled in the completely wrong direction.  My nerves had really gotten to me, but by this point I had said ‘forget it’ to myself.  I left my blocks angled the way they were and stood behind my blocks and waited for the race to begin.

*RACERS TO YOUR MARKS*.  I got into my blocks and tried to be as calm as I could.  I tried to clear my mind, but it was going 100 miles an hour.  I tried to pick one thing to think about, one thing to focus on but nothing was working.  As I placed my hands down onto the track I could see them shaking.  *SET*  I took a deep breath in, this was it. *BANG!!*  And we were off.  I really don’t remember much of the start all I remember is looking up and I was coming up to the back stretch.  I could hear the girl coming up on me in lane 7, I wasn’t going to let her pass me, I pushed a little harder.  As I got to the 200 mark I was still feeling alright.  I couldn’t hear the girl behind me anymore and everything was still holding together.  At the top of the bend, everything changed.  Something was happening, things were getting heavy.  I continued to run, and as I came to the home stretch I looked down to the finish and it looked way more than 100 meters away.  The heaviness continued to build, and I couldn’t think of any way to fight it.  The girl in lane 7 passes and all I can think is ‘Go with HER!’  I feel like for two steps I can stay with her, but that soon fades, as do I .  Each step brings the finish line no closer, and I continue to get passed by other girls.  With 20 meters left I all but give up, I stride it out across the finish line and all I feel is exhausted. 

I walk and grab my things and say good job to the other girls.  Most of them are making friends with the garbage cans, as I try to figure out what went wrong.

The first 300 meters of my race were definitely pretty good.  The start needs a little work, but that should be easy to fix.  The nerves got the best of me this time around.  Instead of running my own races, I got caught up in someone else and faded out very hard at the end.  I ended up running 56.49, which considering how bad the last part went, was still pretty good.  Once I finished my race and cooled down, I had a good laugh at myself.  I’m not really sure why I got SO nervous, probably just some first race jitters.  I’m definitely glad I got them out of the way, and now I can just go out and race.  Once the race was over I remembered how much I like racing. 

My next meet will be this weekend at ASU.  My back is feeling much better, after some painful physio appointments, and I think it will hold up until the weekend.  This time I should be able to keep my nerves under check, and hopefully break into the 55 second range.

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