My adventures in Lyon, France started off to a rocky start. (Click to read) However, after many amazing words from my mom, coach and all my friends, I had decided to make the most of what was left.
Technically I still had two to three more races to compete in, yet still unable to walk without pain. I was more than thankful to have a good friend in Lyon who is a chiropractor and we arranged for me to get treated every other day leading up to my meets. Two days before my 1500M qualifying race, I was able to get through a short run, so there was hope.
The night before my race, I was still unsure if things would hold out. My mom sent me a message that made me want to cry. Then of course came the coaches’ words. “When you get to the line, forget about the leg, the pain and just run knowing you will have time to heal.” Normally we wouldn’t encourage running through pain, but in this case, I wasn’t doing irreparable damage and would get away with it. This consoled me and I think it worked. As runners we fuss over every little ache and pain wondering is it real, imagined or deny it’s there at all. I went for my warm up, it hurt, but I could lift my leg. This is important for running! Then to the call room, where things got official quickly. Phones had to be off, watches had to be off, you had to take your place in a lineup and be walked to the track by a race official. The track was hot, and I just wanted to get this over with.
The very real call room
With my sights set on one of the girls in my heat, the minute the gun went off, I stuck to her shoulder. I raced inside the pack of women for pretty much the whole race, falling off the main pack in the last lap. I crossed the finish absolutely ecstatic. I did it and I did it with some amazing runners. Once I caught my breath and congratulated the other women, I ran so fast to my friends and I was literally jumping for joy. I didn’t know my time, I didn’t know anything and I didn’t care. After a few more minutes, I went to check the results. I was doubtful I made the finals, but I did! I was so happy. I had just squeaked in but I would be able to do the 1500M race (my favourite track race) one more time in France.
1500M qualifying race
The days between races were even more amazing. I had met a local and we had a blast! I got to see Lyon early in the morning on runs through the city and on walks through the evening. I got to day trip through wine country with Lynn from longboat. I even made a new friend who I’ve known of, but she lives in British Columbia. There was always someone to see or have coffee with and at moments I would forget I wasn’t home and was in fact on another continent.
Celebration dinner with more runners!
The finals came and my leg was still not perfect, especially after racing in the qualifying heat. It was tender and sore to run, but if I did it once I would do it again. I put on my best game face and toed the line with my strategy set. I wasn’t nervous, but I was concerned about how my strategy might play out. This was my first time in a long time having to implement such a plan in a finite amount of time.
My new bestie!
The gun went off and the scramble to the inside lane was calmer than I expected. I had to run the first lap in 1:21 to ensure a Personal best, and the pace of the pack seemed comfortable. Imagine you are driving behind a car going 140 km/hour and you just followed it, you wouldn’t know if you were going that fast or not unless you checked yourself. Without the aid of my watch, I had to rely on the pack, and what felt like a smooth start was in fact the fastest race I have participated in this year. I rounded the first lap in 1:15, and I had that “oh shit” moment. This is going to hurt like hell. By lap two the pack started to separate and elbows were flying as the girls jockeyed themselves into the preferred position. Lap three and four were just brutal. The only reason I even finished it at all was because of my friend Lylah. She said just before I took to the track, “ at 600M to go, no matter how much it hurts, just run as hard as you can.” So I did. I gave it everything I had which at this point wasn’t much. I crossed the finish line and it was at this point I understood what I call “track carnage”. This is when the athletes sprawl across the finish line, trying to catch their breaths. My legs folded, all I could taste was blood and I both hated and loved every moment of it.
I picked myself up and got some pictures, grabbed my bag and slowly headed back to my friends. My body was destroyed, and as badly as my race went, I wasn’t disappointed. The last 30 minutes seemed a blur, a dream that I’ve imagining for a long time. Being in the finals of a world championship is a huge deal, and despite my setbacks, I still managed to accomplish this goal on my first try. There were close to 15 other girls who didn’t qualify.
The pain cave!
There was a lot I learned from both 1550m experiences. The best of all was just being part of the action and seeing how competitive my age group really is. I have a lot of work to do, but I’m committed to seeing what my potential can be.
The girl I was always chasing in the 1500m race.