This weekend, I opened up my season with an 800 at the Kentucky Invitational. The fieldhouse there is a great facility and I really like traveling there. The heat on paper looked pretty solid but it's always hard in our position. Collegians are generally less prepared to run fast in January, so many times we are ahead of the curve a bit this early in the year. We did have some post-collegiate talent in our heat though so it was going to be a fast race regardless.
I felt really good on the travel to Lexington, however, as soon as I got out of the car, my nerves began to come out. My stomach felt achy and I was just generally more nervous than usual. I'm not really sure why this was. I know my fitness is good and I'm confident in my abilities. I will just chalk it up to first race jitters I suppose. Last year, we opened up with a 1000 at IU before our first 800. I think that probably made the 800 easier as it helped me prepare. We unfortunately didn't get that chance this year. It's likely I put more pressure on myself than I needed.
Regardless, I made it to the race. Once on the line, I found out that at least 4 athletes dropped out of my heat. Honestly, it helped as it wasn't quite as crowded up front. For the first time in my life during introductions, I actually GOT an introduction! The legendary Dennis McNulty was the announcer and he made me blush. Much appreciated, Coach!
The gun went off and I felt pretty good the first 200. I felt like I got out well though I had to remind myself to stay aggressive after 100. I was surprised at the break as I saw Kevin Hicks, undoubtedly the most accomplished runner in the race, burst out significantly ahead of me. I stayed relaxed and he probably had 5-10 meters on me by the 200. I still haven't seen the race video but I will go off what I was told, which was that I was through in 25.8ish at the 200.
Not too much happened from 200-400. We held our positions and I didn't really gain or lose to Hicks. I was happy to hear that I was 52.high or 53.low at the 400. At this point, my head probably wasn't where it should have been. I definitely had some negative thoughts, but I was able to push them aside. I think more than anything, I was just unsure of where I was because I didn't know quite how I should feel so early in the season.
I felt like I did some good work and actually got more positive mentally from 400 to 600. I closed up to Hicks by about 530. I felt pretty strong actually and if I was more confident, I may have made a move on the backstretch. Instead, I relaxed as we crossed 600 in 1:21.high. At this point, I thought I was going hit the U.S. qualifying mark of 1:50.20 with ease. I think I was too conservative though I did feel that I wound up a bit up and worked in a long drive from 200 out to about 80 out.
Hicks was still just in front of me. As we came down the home stretch, I have to admit, my head was again not where it should have been. Instead of worrying about racing, my eyes went straight to the clock. I've got to get better about not watching the clock asd I come to the finish. I literally watched it almost completely from 1:41 to 1:50.
As Hicks and I came across the line, I saw 1:50.44 come up on the clock, which was his finishing time. I wasn't far behind in 1:50.71. After the race, I was disappointed. The more I thought about it though, the more I realize how I could have been much better tactically, mentally, and more aggressive. Post-race, I recovered quickly. It was actually much quicker than I normally would especially after the first race effort of the season. I also had no room to pity myself as I felt worse for my teammate, Adam, who definitely did not have his best race. He's had a tough last week battling through a calf injury. He's going to be good though and I completely expect to be traveling to Albuquerque with him in March.
This coming weekend, we will travel to IU to race on Saturday. I'm excited to make improvements in my deficiencies from this past race. I also learned from U.S. Indoor last year that Albuquerque is eerily similar to IU's track. The experience of running at IU is invaluable to me.
Below are the official results from Kentucky. Until next time, thanks for reading and good luck to everyone else competing as well!
1Hicks, Kevin Unattached1:50.44
2Sterling, Drake Indiana Inva1:50.71
4Lang, Adam Indiana Inva1:54.05
7Bowman, Asa10Middle Tennessee1:57.04
8Haywood, Lyle12Middle Tennessee1:57.34