Nov. 19, 2009
Regionals: A Little Adversity
Clay Martin, Junior
Each cross country season tends to go by faster and faster each year. This season was over faster than the blink of an eye. I was in awe of this on the 14-hour trip down to Abilene, Texas, Nov. 5. We departed at 7 a.m. in two big vans. The trip was fun, hilarious and kind of smelly! Our first stop was in Wichita, Kan., for a 30-minute run and lunch. We ran around the campus of Wichita State University. We squared off against them at Woody Greeno and we beat them by a few points, so we felt like we owned the place as we ran around campus. After some quick Subway we were back on the road again. I don't remember much of this part of the trip because I was trying to study Analytical Chemistry and I was fighting to stay awake because of the early morning.
Our second stop was in Wichita Falls, Texas. This is the home of Midwestern State University, which is where regional's will be held in 2011. We ate dinner at Denny's and then finally arrived in Abilene at 11 p.m. I went right to sleep and slept like a baby until around 9 a.m. It was the best night of sleep I had gotten on a cross country road trip. We were stationed at the Comfort Suites and Trevor Johannsen and I had a big room all to ourselves. It was nice not having to share a bed with another teammate like we usually do.
Friday, we ran the course after we got to sleep in. The course was as flat as a pancake and for the 10k race, we were to run three 2-mile loops with an extra .2 miles (for those who don't know a 10k is 6.2miles). The course was right across from the Abilene airport and in the front of the Abilene Zoo. It was cool running along the course and seeing sea gulls and flamingos swim across the lake that part of the course outlined. We were all excited with the flat course, except Abilene is just as windy as Maryville, if not more!
We had our team dinner at the Olive Garden which is where a few other teams happened to be eating too. The mood was set for an epic food fight, but we didn't have enough bread sticks to throw at the other teams. Those things were gone as soon as they hit the tables. Man, I love Olive Garden's salad and bread sticks. We got back to the hotel with full stomachs and a good attitude to take on a 10k.
The next morning came awfully fast as we woke up at 7:15 a.m. I just had a little bit for breakfast, not because I was super full, but because I was hungry for competition. We arrived at the course at 9 a.m. The girls raced at 9:30 and we raced at 10:15. At this point of the season all you have to worry about is getting warmed up properly for such a long race. I was proud of myself that I kept the same strict routine and had a good warm up. Before I knew it, my spikes were on and I was doing some stride outs at the starting line. Everyone in the race has a do-or-die mentality, because only the top three teams and top two individuals in the race run at nationals. I imagine going into battle has the same feeling. The only difference was I wasn't getting shot at for talking to friends on other teams. It was ironic because a friend of mine from Central Missouri did our first workout of the summer together back in May and we were doing our last run of the season at the same time too. Everyone on the team had a great attitude before the race started we were relaxed, but definitely focused and ready to go.
Before I knew it the gun went off, my race plan was to get out fast so I could keep myself up in the lead chase pack the first half of the race. Zach Layton and I had gotten out well, but as the race went on, and as we were both competing are hearts out, something seemed wrong. TR and Trevor were not running with us. It was kind of nerve racking wondering what had happened, but we had to press on because I could only control the outcome of my race. As soon as I crossed the finish line spent and exhausted I waddled over to the side of a fence behind the finish line next to Zach. We sat there knowing we had laid everything on the course. We then made our way out of the finishing area and we were told that our team had all been a part of a big fall about 150 meters into the race. We had just passed the line of no return, which means if you fall past that line the race can't be restarted. TR and Trevor both fell right after that line. Someone had pushed TR from behind and caused him to do a somersault. This led to TR's spike to cut into Trevor's leg, which caused him to fall too. This fall cost our team valuable points in the team score. If TR and Trevor had just ran the same time that I did, we probably would've finished in seventh or eighth place. I truly believe that our team was that good. We also had some other runners not finish the race due to health issues. So with all of the odds against us, we were able to overcome adversity and put together a respectable team score.
I would just like to say that Trevor Johannsen is the toughest runner that I have ever had the privilege of running with in my life. Trevor finished the 10k race after the infamous "crash". He finished the race with a bloody left leg and two giant cuts across his knee and quadriceps. When there is a task at hand to be done, Trevor always accomplishes it. Knowing the person that Trevor is, I know that he will be back to take on track with a vengeance and finish his senior year with some big personal bests. The same can be said for TR Purcell as well. TR always is ready to go on race day, so I definitely know that he is extra motivated for track. In Abilene the Northwest Missouri State cross country team was given lemons and we made lemonade and it was definitely bitter sweet.
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