Stanford has always been one of my favorite places to compete for a number of reasons. The level of competition is steep and it is way fun to witness the races and just be a part of it all, and see some of the best runners in the nation come together to battle it out. The campus is stunning, and the warm up and cool down goes by too fast as we run through the arches and towers at Stanford’s campus. I also have many good memories attached to that track. It is where I qualified for First Round of Nationals and Junior Nationals my Freshman Year. It is also where I first broke 9:00 minutes in the steeplechase and won my first competitive heat.
So I decided to make a trip out to Stanford to get back in the mix and take a jab at the steeplechase again. I’m not part of a team anymore, but I’m still having a hard time giving up racing. My flight to California was early Friday morning. I made some not so smart decisions with bus travel to get to the airport the night before, and found myself in Salt Lake City 9 miles away from the airport at 11:30 at night with no car and with the bus system shut down for the night. So I started the long walk to the airport with my luggage and a couple of hours later I arrived and spent the next few hours trying to catch some sleep on a bench at the airport while waiting for my flight.
I was a little blurry-eyed and tired on the flight over and as we checked into the hotel. I was making the trip with former teammate Mike Hardy and his wife Kristal. Mike has been finding a lot of success in the steeplechase in recent years and is keeping that ball rolling. Our race was later that day as we arrived at the hotel. I crashed on the couch and took a glorious nap!
Too soon race time came and I found myself on the line waiting for the gun to go off. I hadn’t felt those butterflies for a long time that come with racing on that level. The race got underway and I spent the first couple laps up around 3rd or 4th place where I planned on staying, knowing these guys would take me through each lap at about 71’s. Unfortunately as the race went on people kept passing me and I could not get the wheels turning. The motions were all there, my hurdle form seemed fine, but I was not being competitive.
I finished the race towards the back of the pack at 9:07. I haven’t clocked in that slow for a long time. Overall, it was discouraging. I had told myself before the race if I could run about 8:55 or faster, then I would keep going with this steeplechase thing, otherwise I would switch over and start training for my 100 mile race.
I decided maybe my days on the track were coming to a close and it was time to hang up the track spikes and don the trail running shoes. As I talked to friends, however, I concluded that maybe I would keep going with the steeplechase a little longer, mostly because I know I can get a better race out of this season.
The rest of the trip was a blast, however, as we got to see some of the sights around the area like the Golden Gate Bridge and Redwood Forests. It didn’t leave me much time to dwell on my bad race. Mike had a good race, running 8:44. Anyway, I’m looking forward to giving the steeplechase another shot in a few weeks!