I saw Laura right before her race, wished her luck and found a nice spot on the 100m turn to take splits as she came across the finishing line. Her race was perfect for her, and she went out
at an ok pace. A couple of her laps were slow, and fast, but with 200m to go it looked as if she
hit a wall, and then a limp was noticeable. I figured it was her knee, since it was bugging her
for a couple of weeks, but once she crossed the line, met with her coach and walked over to me, I found out it was her fascia on her foot. She could barely walk, let alone cool down, which I was going to accompany her in for my shake out run before tonight's race. It was a definitely a terrible to thing for her, and as I write this she is well on her way to recovery and cross training.
So, after the morning incident and watching a few 1500m races, Laura and I meet up with our parents and head out to get lunch with her parents as mine head to their hotel for lunch.
We get sandwiches from a nice deli and head back to our hotel, where Laura and her parents eat, and I leave for a short run to get the blood flowing. I find a nice neighborhood to run through and a nice gradual hill to do some hill strides on. This is a must for me, since Henry Rono always emphasized some light speed work on a hill the day or so before your race.
After a few of those, I head back to the hotel, stretch out and have lunch with Laura in the courtyard of our hotel. Tuna Salad sandwich, some chips and a couple of cookies are all I desire before a nice little nap and off to the track.
At this point, it is about 7:15ish, and Laura and I get there in time to watch some of the 5k's. We just hang around till about 8:30 or so, when I start freaking out about warming up, and who to warm up with, since I was going to jog around with one of the UNM guys who was in my heat. I watch a few more laps of Section 1 of the 5000m and find Keith (UNM 10k guy). We head out for our warm up and talk all about how amazing this track is and how we plan to race.
With all the emotions stirring up in my stomach, I can only respond with a few short phrases as we come back to the check-in area. I keep running/trotting along for a few more minutes, till my watch hits 17 something total minutes for my warm up. A few stretches and drills and all the 10000m guys are called to the check-in section for our final check-in an lane assignments. I get lane/number 13 and rush back to my seat where my stuff is located and change out of my warm-ups. Many of the other runners are already out on the track doing strides and drills, so I figured I should get out there asap. In most cases, I am more worried about the preparation of getting to the start line, than the race itself. Once I can get to the line and the gun goes off, I feel much better. But, that won't occur for another 10 minutes or so.
Last call had been announced, and I throw my last few layers of clothes to Laura as she wishes me luck with a beautiful smile. One last stride on the back stretch towards the start and all the runners timidly place themselves in numerical order based on lane assignments. I find myself with my highlighter yellow singlet squished between two Brooks-Hanson runners.
I wish whoever can hear me, let alone make eye contact with me a "good luck" before the race and tuck in when the starter sets us off. The gun goes off and I just stay relaxed and aim for the rail as quick as possible. It becomes a mess to get over, but with a few elbows here and there, I find my way to the rail. Once there, I start thinking about pace, and how this is an ok pace. Mile 1 was hit in around 4:41. I keep hearing other coaches shout out splits of 69 or 70 to our chase group. After a quick evaluation, I figure this is a good place to be. 9:20 or so for 2 Miles.
To me, this is perfect, and I plan on being here through 5k and move up if I can. To this point, I have never covered a 5k faster than 14:35, and as we approach the 5k mark, that familiar number is still there. But this time I feel pretty good and have another 5k to go. I leave our pack and start working on the next pack in front of me.
No one from that pack is fall off yet, but i keep on pressing and since I'm pretty much alone, I don't hear any splits. From the starting line on, I have the jumbo-tron to look at and the famous Drums being beaten from the Stanford team. The back stretch has the UNM's assistant coach Erin Howarth cheering me on till I get to the 200m mark were out of a million voices, I hear Laura's soft but annunciated voice cheer me on, along with a few more UNM athletes' voices and the head coach on the 250m mark. In the stands on the 300m mark I hear another buddy's voice cheering me on and both my parents and Laura's parents on the home stretch. So with all those lovely voices to carry me around the track, I couldn't see how I could fade. Instead I just kept pressing on lap after lap. The times on the clock didn't make sense to me, so I was not going to add or subtract times to estimate a final time. All I wanted to see was the lap counter flip closer and closer to 1 Lap to Go! Once that number came up I glanced over at the time and saw 27:57. With one lap to go I figured I could run about a 63 or so to break 29. And breaking that barrier would be amazing. I knew I didn't want to regret coming this close and missing that mark by a few seconds, so I thought I could do it since I had run a 63 in practice before. While I'm thinking about all of this and pressing hard for the finish, I reach the 200m mark and the clock over here reads 28:30! Now I quickly think to myself in about 2 seconds, 2 thoughts. I just ran a 33 second 200 which is a 66 quarter, and that is not enough to break 29 minutes. I need a 28! And I'VE run that in practice too! So I start kicking with everything I got and start catching some random guys. I have no idea who they are, but that they are in front of me and if I can catch them or gain on them, then I'm going to get a good time. I sprint in all the way through the line as I look over at the clock. It still reads 28:59 as I narrowly miss stepping on a guy who was pasted out on the track. I stumble to a stop and I only know that I ran the "B" Standard for the USA Outdoor Championships! If I ran under 29, that would be icing on the cake. The scoreboard didn't go that far down the list to my 16th place finish to reveal my time. But I didn't care too much, I had a feeling I did it. I saw one of the Flotrack guys, Ryan Fenton and talked to him for a bit as I staggered over to where my stuff was at, and where Laura would be.
I reach her with a smile and a congratulatory hug. I grab my warm-ups and leave for a short cool down on my own with a smile from ear to ear. I later find Keith cooling down and we chat for a bit as we come around to the results list. I look down the list and see my name next to a time of 28:59.96! .96!!! I didn't care what the milliseconds were, as long as the minutes were in the 28's. I was stocked and stoked out of my mind! I ran another loop around the track facility with an even bigger smile on my face. I finished up and saw Laura again, as she was telling me I broke 29:00!
After that performance, we walked back to our hotel, both limping since Laura's foot was damaged and I just had a few blisters. We get back to the hotel, drop off our stuff at around 11:30pm and head down the street to the only restaurant open, Jack-in-the-Box.
All in all, I was too excited to fall asleep that night and couldn't believe I ran under 29:00. After dinner, an ice bath, a shower and just laying there till about 1:30am I fell asleep with a well satisfied performance.