Competitive nerves interrupt tranquility |

Competitive nerves interrupt tranquility

Editor’s note: Carbondale resident Carrie Messner is in Finland for the track and field International Association of Athletics Federation World Championships. The women’s steeplechase runner competes in the preliminaries on Saturday. Messner will be sending in occasional journal entries to keep readers back home updated on her World Championships experience.

After racing in Europe for the last two weeks, Lisa Galaviz (another U.S. steepler) and I arrived in Finland at Pajulahti Sport Centre in Naskola, about 100 kilometers north of Helsinki.

It is so beautiful! It sits on a lake with awesome running trails, two tracks and many other sport venues. Most importantly to the locals, there is a sauna ” a national pastime for the Finnish people and a must for the athletes. We promise to give one a try after Worlds!

One thing I truly enjoy about being a track athlete in Finland is how popular the sport is. We have been able to watch a track meet on TV every night, and, much to our surprise, signed numerous autographs for eager children.

Along with watching track, we have been enjoying our pre-worlds rest at Pajulahti. Hours have been passed reading, swimming in the lake and picking blueberries, which are rampant here. The beautiful scenery and quiet surroundings have been ideal to keep the mind quiet and focused before heading down to the athletes village, where things will definitely be more “active.”

We arrived at the athletes’ village in Espoo today, which is just outside of Helsinki. We are staying at the Otaniemi Institute, which has been fenced in and surrounded by guards ” needless to say, we feel safe.

Upon our entering the arrival hall the nerves definitely started to kick in. Athletes from every country are here, and the concept that you are at the world championships kicks in.

It is so exciting as a “first timer.” To know all your hard work has paid off, and that you are part of such an amazing experience is kind of startling. Especially for us U.S. steeplechase women, as this is the very first time it has ever been held at the World Championships. I feel honored and thrilled to be a part of the first team ” and, since the three of us comprising the team (Liz Jackson, Lisa Galaviz and myself) are good pals, we get to experience it with friends!

I headed out to the track in my fancy new “USA” gear to do my final pre-race workout before resting up for Saturday’s preliminaries. The workout was at race pace, half with barriers and half without, followed by a shakeout run this evening.

The weather is great, in the low 70s, and it seems to be about that temperature most of my days here. It is a little humid, as the village track overlooks the water, but it is pretty nice for a Colorado girl who lives in Carbondale. Actually, the scenery is not too different from home, with all the wildflowers, aspen and pine trees, though much greener.

I arrived at the track to a view of numerous athletes from many different countries ” Japan, Morocco, Ireland ” and lots of U.S. athletes, many of whom are past Olympians (Maurice Greene, Justin Gatlin, Allyson Felix, Jen Rhines, to name a few).

It is so awesome to be out here wearing my U.S. gear and doing a workout in such prestigious company! I look forward to finishing up the day’s commitments and exploring this place more thoroughly, possibly heading into Helsinki.

I plan to relish and enjoy every part of my experience here at World Champs. After all, I’ve earned it!

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