I've run a race at Carthage College 7 years running. It's the place where I won the only race I have ever won: 55 highs and lows at Woodland Conference indoor senior year of high school. It's also the place where I came out of nowhere to place 2nd in 55 lows as a sophomore and fell in finals as a junior. Basically, there are a lot of memories for me in the Tarble Athletic Center, and when it dawned on me that this could be my last time racing there (at least for awhile), it made me a little sad. That said...I think this meet left a lasting impression...it seriously had to be one of the most ridiculous days/races ever.
First of all, I accidentally got drunk on Friday night. I promise, I did NOT plan on this. I was thinking I was being all good, drinking a couple beers slowly and drinking water constantly, etc. Well, as it turns out, I had 2 full pints of 10% ABV beer (Ale Asylum Mercy and Bell's Hopslam, which I must say, was absolutely spectacular). Then of course, Andrew and I stayed up talking for like an hour, and in the end I got about 4 or 5 hours of sleep....obviously, a GREAT start to a double race day. Before we even left Madison, we saw a hitchhiker and a man dressed up as the statue of liberty standing on the median of East Wash...clearly, this day was going to be ridiculous.
We arrived in Kenosha around 10, with the meet scheduled to start at 11. I was feeling exhausted and kind of sketchy at that point, but once we started warming up for the mile I started feeling better. We warmed up on this amazing path next to Lake Michigan, and the weather was fantastic - around 35 and sunny. It was so pretty I had to take a picture:
So we got done warming up outside, and just kind of hung around stretching and doing strides and stuff. 6 out of the 7 girls who went to the meet were running the mile, which was kind of ridiculous. Both of the girls in the first heat ran 5:43...pretty awesome. I was in the second heat with 3 other girls from my team...hoping to finish ahead of at least a couple of them, but sadly that was not the case. Once again, I went out in 40 for the first lap which I immediately regretted - my hamstrings started to cramp up terribly and I just couldn't keep pace with the other WTC girls who were starting to pull ahead. By the 5th lap, I was just trying to hang on and keep the girl in front of me in range. Finally, we got to the last lap, and I tried to drag something out of me for a kick. The clock was at 5:15 when I came around and I knew that I was going to be incredibly angry if I didn't run sub-6...so I started to try to pull something together for the last lap. In the meantime, I had gotten right behind this girl ("girl in the red shorts" and was getting ready to pass her, except this other girl from Benedictine was straddling the lane line and I could not for the life of me get around her. Obviously I could have just gone to the outside, but I didn't really feel like running the curve in lane 3, so I was just sitting behind the two getting increasingly irritated. Finally, we got into the final straight and I was so done with this situation - I squeezed in the gap between the two and passed the obnoxious tall girl first, and pulled even with the other girl...who then stopped short of the line and I ended up beating her by a 10th of a second. The thing is, I'm really annoyed that those girls were there...because I found out later that 2 of my teammates finished only a second in front of me...and I feel like if I had been aware that they were there, I would have pushed it harder the last couple of laps. But anyway, I finally ran a sub-6 for the season (5:58) and improved on my season best by 2 seconds again, so I guess I can't complain too much.
So we had some time before the 3K...I watched some other WTCers race the 600, 800, and 1000, then we went to warm up when they started the 200s because there were 20 heats of that or something. I spent way too long trying to figure out what spikes to wear...seriously, I brought every pair of spikes I own to this meet. I didn't want to wear my Asics that I wear for the mile because I figured my shins would hurt, and I didn't have time to clean out my XC spikes, so I ended up wearing a pair of spikeless Nike Zoom Janas that I stole from my sister's closet...I think she wore them once for indoor pole vault or something. They're identical to my XC spikes except spikeless, and they're silver and powder blue and awesome! They didn't feel too good with socks, but I took my socks off and they fit perfectly! In the meantime, we had also decided to enter a 4 x 400...which I was going to be in. Kickass? I think so.
Brittany and I were doing some striders and stuff waiting for the 200s to be done...I went to get some water when all of a sudden Taylor was yelling at me "they're starting!" So yeah....I almost missed my race. I had to sprint across the infield and arrived at the starting line with my heart pounding and completely breathless...an ideal way to start an almost 2 mile race. But wait, it gets better. The gun went off, and I went through the first lap in about 41 seconds. Everyone was in a pack, but people started to peel off, and by halfway through the second lap I was running with Claire just in front of me, a Stevens Point girl on my ass, and Brittany just behind her. And then, just before the second curve, it happened.
To be completely honest, I couldn't tell you exactly what occurred, but all I know is all of a sudden I felt something catch my back leg, and then I was down. On my knee that was already causing me problems. My guess is that SP girl was riding way too close and caught my leg. It was one of those moments that it takes you a second to figure out what's actually going on, but as soon as I did I was up and sprinting around the curve. I HAD to pass that girl. I got next to her on the curve, and for the first, and probably last time in my life, I threw an elbow. Unnecessary? Maybe. It's not like I hit her, I just made a little contact. I was pissed, and there was nothing else I could think of to do but that. The hilarious thing is some guys who were sitting on the side of the track definitely saw it, and so I heard "oooooh" coming from the sidelines as I passed her and went on my merry way...haha.
Well obviously this put me at a huge disadvantage - Claire was now a solid 15 meters ahead of me, I'd wasted a bunch of energy sprinting around the girl, and my rhythm was totally gone. I was trying to keep track of my splits but I kept forgetting to hit my watch so that was honestly no help whatsoever haha. I was trying to get myself back into some kind of groove. 15 laps is A LONG TIME. I kept pretending I was on the track at the shell...just count to 7 twice, and then kick for the last lap. The last half mile was basically torture - I had nothing left and it was all I could take just to stay on something that resembled my pace. Somewhere around my 2nd last lap, I LAPPED the girl who tripped me (hah), though this does irritate me because there's no reason she should have been riding my ass if I was going to beat her by a MINUTE. I had almost no kick, but I finally finished in 12:32. I wasn't that pleased, since I was really hoping to beat my seed, but I'm also pretty sure that between the sprinting across the gym and the getting tripped and falling, that's at least 15-20 seconds I could take off my time pretty easily. I'm not going to lie - I really, really liked the race. Something about the longer but slightly slower pace seems to be working better for me than the kamikaze death sprint of the mile...so I definitely think I'll be running it again. But for the first race in an event - holy crap, it doesn't get much more ridiculous than that.
But let's not forget that I still had to run the 4 x4! And seriously, I love that race. Always have, always will. I think the think I love about it is that I never really care if my team does well, or even if I run that well, its just the adrenaline rush of sprinting all out and it being at the end of the meet with everyone watching. And to make things even more ridiculous...I ran ANCHOR. Hahahaha...that's just silly. I smiled through my whole leg haha...even stuck out my tongue at Jade for a picture. It was pretty fantastic. Our all-distance crew did our best :)
We finally left at around 5 but the fun was just beginning...it was really windy so apparently all this snow had blown from the surrounding fields to build up to like 4-5 inches on the highway...and apparently so many cars had gone into ditches that the state patrol closed the road! Sooo we had to take a half hour detour through Kenosha to find our way back to the freeway...then I somehow got off of 94 but luckily it didn't end up being a problem...and THEN I got pulled over because one of my headlights was out. Seriously. And the cop thought I was in high school...sad! By the time I finally made it home I basically just wanted to lay..my legs were cramped up so badly since we didn't cool down after the 4 x 4, and my shins and knee were killing me. But hey! It was an amazing meet. I love Carthage, and like I said, I'll never forget that track...and it's sort of fitting that I would fall there :P. I mean, I was used to falling in hurdle races, but distance? That's just crazy.
And yet, even though my races weren't great, even though I fell, if there's one thing I'll miss when/if I move to Boston, it will be days like this.