"I awakened with a smile on my face, my legs felt fresh, my mind focused and my spirit high. Twas the morning of All-Ohio and I knew my body was prepared for the 5 mile slug fest. I knew I was going out in style."
When I woke up Friday morning at 7am, I had received the above words in a text message from Corey Culbertson. It is fitting it was from him since him and I shared such a beautiful race last year at All-Ohio. Alumni that I shared such experiences are a small part of what drives me each run and race because I know they would give anything to be doing what I am still able to do. In 48 short days, I will be in the same position as them.....
My morning "shakeout" run brought back the ritual from the spring. All of my track races were in the afternoon and I always ran a few miles, did sprint drills, and stretched. This is one of the only cross country races where I was able to do this. So, I woke up early and ran two miles on the trail behind the house. My sprint drills were back in the woods as well and I stretched on the dock by the pond. This was such a relaxing way to spend my morning. And as I watched the pond, it was very still. Like the calm before the storm.....
There were 277 runners toeing the line at the Elvin R. King cross country course, home of Cedarville University. Looking over, it was a rush; we were running against every school in Ohio (except Ohio State, Kent State, and Findlay). The race was going to be competitive since the course changed from Ohio Wesleyan. Plus, the weather was amazing. Blue sky's, with temperatures in the mid/high 60's. It was very windy in spots, but not horrible.
One of my biggest goals of this season is to stay relaxed with everything I do. Having composure in all situation, whether it be in a race, workout, regular training run, or class tests, I think, is the first part of being successful. It is never good to be tense and have the heart rate sky high too early.
When the gun went off, I settled into my pace, getting out good, but not in the very front. This course is wide open the entire way, so I had a lot of room to work with. Keegan and I were running next to each other during the first mile. We went through the mile in 4:50, putting us somewhere around 18th or 20th place of the race.
I knew the guys that were going to be in the front. I knew the Lemon twins would take it out very fast, which they did, at 4:42. Then, I knew Eric Finan would be up there along with Ridge Robinson from OU and Xavier's top guy.
During the second mile, I just tried to get in good positions and work my way up. I knew the course very well. This was my 6th race at Cedarville. There were enough people in front of me to work my way up without getting stuck by myself. I came through the second mile in 9:54 (5:04) sitting in about 13-14th place.
From then on, nothing exciting really happened. I just kept working my way up to people, surveying their pace, and tried to work my way past them. I came through the third mile in 14:58 (5:04), 9th place. I only moved past one person in the fourth mile, 8th, and I was at 19:58 (5:00). When I saw 19:58, I thought to myself that I really needed to grind to be under 25 minutes. I had forgotten, at the time, that the last mile was actually .97.
I passed two more people during the last mile and coming into the straight stretch I saw the clock reading 24:30. Right then, I remembered the thing about the last mile being .97. No one passed me in the last stretch and I finished in 6th place, with my official time time being 24:42.8. That was a nice 50 second PR for me and 59 seconds faster than my previous best time on the course. I was stoked.
As for the team, we had a good day with many PR's. Keegan was our two man at 25:18. Brad was at 25:21. Galen was 25:31. Wysocki was 25:49. Those were some big PR's by Brad, Galen, and Wysocki. Linkous, who ran into a pole early in the race ended up at 26:15 and Chuck rounded out our top 7 in 26:43.
Although we did not finish 3rd overall like we did last year, we ran solid. The teams that beat us usually did not come to All-Ohio and are Division 1. Miami, Xavier, OU, Dayton, and Cincinnati beat us. We beat Malone for the first time in our school history, which was really cool. That was the first time they lost to another NAIA school since 2006, before I was even in college!
All in all, I am very excited about the race and the entire experience. But, that was 2 days ago and what happened already happened. We still have four meets left, two of which happen to be at our home course. The biggest meet is yet to come, Nationals.
Still Remembering November