Time for finals " finally | PostIndependent.com

Time for finals " finally

HELSINKI, Finland ” Wahoo!! I made the final!!!

After lots of nerves, deep breaths, self chats and affirmations, I ran myself into the final of the first women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase at the world championships ” and was it ever awesome!

We went from our warm-up track down into an underground training tunnel (they use this for winter training ” an 800-meter straight track) that led us to our call area. Our shoes and uniforms were checked, and we were to wait with our nerves flowing before heading into the stadium. Everyone was doing last-minute drills and gathering their thoughts before the prelims. The first heat left for the track at 11:50, and we were next!!

We walked into the Olympic stadium as the first heat was running and I caught my breath ” the 1952 Olympic stadium, and we’re running in it. So much history has happened here! It was an overwhelming experience! The stands were packed, cameras everywhere, races going ” it was awesome. I watched as my teammate, Lisa, passed by in the first heat as we headed to our starting area.

I finished up my final strides and they told us to strip down to our uniforms. We lined up for the gun … runners set … BANG! We were out quick!! The group tightened up around the first turn. I got out and set myself in the top pack. Through the first 200 meters I was right where I wanted to be. There was lots of jostling for position, elbows being thrown as we cleared the first barrier.

We continued at a smooth pace into the first water pit ” I jumped clean and was feeling good! Into the third lap I moved into the top four, knowing the top three make the final, and I was committed to making the final!

I was feeling good and ready and moved into third. I kept my pace even and watched my form. I kept my focus on the two lead girls. Three laps to go and we quickened the pace. I moved with the leader knowing I would do whatever it takes to make the final!

Two laps to go and the rest of the pack began to fall off the pace. I began to feel the race in my legs as they started to fatigue.

This is where the steeple gets tough.

I refocused my energy on my form and zoned in on the girls ahead of me. I leaned forward and kept my arms smooth. We hit the bell lap, I pushed away with my feet, leaned hard and pumped my arms. With 250 meters to go, I moved into second place. I drove through the final water pit and pushed off hard. Into the last barrier, I focused on my form and relaxed into the finish. I knew I was in the final and did not push to catch the Jamaican who passed me in the final 50 meters.

I set a personal record and reached the finals!

I was absolutely ecstatic!

To have made it to worlds, through the prelims, then into the final is an incredible feeling! Overcoming so much in my sport through injuries and mental anguish, what it means to be in this final is indescribable. I feel as if a weight has permanently lifted from my shoulders, and I am running free.

To add to my excitement was the reaction of the crowd to the steeple. They are loving the women’s steeple! So much support and excitement! We have worked hard to get this event into the world championships, and all the support of the crowd validates our efforts! I can’t wait to race in the final and be a part of such a historical event for the women’s steeple!

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