Sunday, January 29, 2012

Opener Up!

Today was finally it.  After two camps and seven weeks in the Caribbean, it was finally time to open up!
A season opener is a blessing and curse.  Its very nerve racking and exciting all in one nice little ball thats just waiting to explode.  This time I was ready for it though.  I was still nervous, yet still very calm.

I arrived at the track just over 2 hours before my race.  This gave me a chance to take in the atmosphere and mentally prepare for the race.  Luckily for me the meet is at York, so it was very familiar and very comfortable.  I know the corners, I know the ins and outs, I practice there every day, its like my second home.
There was buzz already as I entered the building.  They had started running the 60's, which are always a crowd pleaser.  All of my training partners had eased through their heats and the finals looked like they were going to be quick. This was no time to get caught up though, I needed to focus on me.  I picked a spot to sit down, plugged in my headphones and got into the zone.  I controlled my breathing, I thought positive thoughts and I saw myself winning.  I had no worries about my race at all.

As I started to warm up I felt some tightness in my hamstring that had been bothering me for the past few week.  I try not too think too much of it and do a couple extra laps to make sure I'm nice and warm.  My energy was up and I was feeling good.  I kept working through my drills, but still my hamstring was a little bothersome.  As luck would have it, one of our chiro's popped by and withing minutes made my hamstring tightness disappear. I was ready to go and it felt like nothing was going to stop me.

With the 60 final just before my race it seemed like the facility was packed and the buzz was growing more and more.  As the two finals of the women go, I get amped.  My team mates all blaze super fast times and I know my turn is coming.  All that was left was two finals of the guys then its go time.  The guys in my group are all in the first final, so I stand along the stretch to watch. *BANG* goes the gun and within a blink of the eye the guys are blazing down the track....*BANG* *BANG*....then it all gets called back.   Fifty meters in and the guys are called back on a false start.  Disbelief!
Not only does this mean they have to run again, but now I have to wait for my race to go off.
I do my best to stay warm and keep in the zone as I wait for the 60s to finish.  I walk the track to visualize more, then chill to stay relaxed. 
After 10 minutes the guys are finally ready to go.
*BANG*....and they are off again, and without a hitch. As they whip by, it looks way faster than the run before.  As they crash against the mats, the crowds attention shifts and waits for the scoreboard.  Then there is a roar!  Justyn (Warner) had just run run 6.59 and made it look easy.  With this time he's punched his ticked to the World Indoor Championships, and now I'm ready to get mine. 
Wasting no time the officials cart the starting blocks down to the 400m start and before I even get a practice start in, its time to go.  Warm ups off and behind my blocks.  I look down at the track, roll my neck, relax my shoulders and I'm ready to go.

*BANG*, and I'm off!  I take off aggressively, just like I practice, I look up and I'm already halfway down the back.  As I lock it in I keep the momentum I build and round the second corner with ease.  I approach the cut in on the home stretch and establish myself as the leader.  I demolish the first 200m with ease, the second 200m is where the mental strength kicks in.  I do my best to stay relaxed and keep the pace down the back stretch.  With 100m left to go I hear my coach yell out my split...."39, 40".  I can't remember if that's good or not, I don't know if I should kick more or keep doing what I'm doing, I get thrown off.  All of a sudden I can hear everything around me.  I hear people screaming my name, I hear people telling me to relax, its loud!  As I bend the last corner it looks like way more then 50 meters.  I pump my arms as fast as I can, I can feel my body tightening up and I fight, I fight as hard as I can.
I look up at the scoreboard, and its not what I wanted to see.  Instantly I'm mad and I want to know what went so wrong.  I felt amazing, I felt fast, but for some reason it didn't pan out. 
As I cool down I replay it in my head to figure out what happened.  I was relaxed, I was aggressive, I felt like it was fast,  I thought I had done everything right. 

After I cooled down, mentally and physically, I talked to my coaches about my race.  They weren't disappointed, they see what needed to be fixed and they are confident in my performance.  Just because I didn't punch my ticket today, doesn't mean World Indoors is out of the question.  Today was a good opener, even though it didn't go exactly like I wanted it to.  I feel the difference in my race already and once I clean up the end I know things will come together.  
Next stop Saskatoon, to run in front of a home crowd, and I can't wait!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hello 2012

Well the year is finally here. Once every four years, just like a leap year.  I feel like a kid born on February 29th, I finally get to celebrate....well maybe not quiet yet.
The Olympics are later this year, sometime I'm August. A lot of people know the exact day, hour and minute and are counting down. I've never been one for countdowns though. If movies have taught me anything, countdowns end in explosions!  In all seriousness though, I don't bother with countdowns because I can be focusing on more important things, like the journey. This has been a journey in who knows how many years in the making.  I feel like everything is slowly falling into place. Every year before this it always felt like I was missing something to make it that next step.  Last year I was close, but God had another plan and this year he is putting it together.
I'm coming into this year with a no holds bad attitude.  Leaving everything out on the track, the mat and the weight room.
I've been told enough times that I have what it takes. Now, finally, I believe that.
And I've finally got what I had been missing.