The LCMSAA Championship 800m Race, as told by Hanna Bailey
To be entirely honest, my 800 at districts felt like the longest 800 meters of my life. From the beginning, I planned to pace off Elle, then beat her in the final stretch. I wasn’t entirely confident in this plan, but being my last race running for my middle school, I figured it was worth a shot. Before the race, I was nervous because I knew that I was going to have to work through a lot of pain if I wanted to succeed. I was also excited, though, because I had been waiting for this opportunity all season. The day of the meet I did everything I could trying not to overthink the race, but by the time I was warming up, I was kind of freaking out. I got in my lane and stepped to the line. In a final attempt to calm myself, I closed my eyes and mentally reassured myself that it was only two laps of suffering. The gun went off, and the butterflies went away. Everything went pretty smoothly until it was time to cut in. Two girls cut in between Elle and me, and I knew that if I let Elle get too far ahead of me, I would never be able to close the gap. In a desperate attempt, I sprinted ahead of the two girls before the straight ended and cut in right behind Elle.
About 300 meters in, I was already tiring out. I was beginning to think: maybe I can’t do this; maybe she is too fast. I reminded myself, though, of how frustrated I would be over the next few days if I quit, knowing that this was my last meet, and I still had more to give before the finish. I stayed with her. At the end of my first lap I considered it a tiny victory that I only had one more lap to go, and I was still right on pace. With 300 meters left, all I could think was, “If I could only get to the last 200 meters, I could still win this.” Sure enough, by the time I made it to the final curve, I forgot all about how miserable the last 600 meters had been. At that point, I was anticipating when we’d reach the final straight, where I would pass her. I got too excited, though, and as soon as I saw the finish line I started to sprint. As I passed her, I though for sure that I was going to win. Then, in the last twenty meters, I felt her coming up on me. All I could think was, “Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap!” We finished right beside each other, and I honestly had no idea who’d won.
Regardless of that, though, I made my way off the track and tried to catch my breath. It literally felt like I was dying. After a moment, Elle came up, put her arm around me, and said, “Good job!”
All I could think was, “How is she still talking right now?”
The LCMSAA Championship 800m Race, as told by Elle Thomas
During the track season, I noticed the difference between my mental state before, during, and after the race. No matter how much you plan or prepare before a race, you really have to be able to adapt to the situation since every race can give you a different challenge.
After church, and before a very nice Cinco de Mayo dinner, me and my dad had the “what’s your plan talk”. While sitting in our camping chairs in the backyard, my dad asked me the routine question before any race, “Hey, Elle. What is your plan for districts?” I answered with my classic response, “I wanna go fast!” This led to a more “in depth” conversation about the purpose of my training this far was for opportunities like this. This made me nervous; however, I trusted my training and coaches which have taught me to do my best. I knew as long as I left everything on the track I would be happy with my performance.
While sitting on the bus, I did prepare for what was coming. I felt really good about the 1600 and my nerves were calm. When I thought of the 800, I really got nervous. Based on the previous race, I knew Hanna Bailey was going to push me and I would be in pain.
After fighting the wind and winning the 1600, I really started to focus on the 800. I got really nervous, but what calmed me was the thought of, “Hey, everyone is supposed to be nervous. You’ve trained hard for this so, it is going to be great.” While jogging to the check-in table, I felt really confident and was excited to run. I was prepared for the 800.
During the race, I felt like my mind went blank. Everything was pretty routine until the last 100 where Hanna Bailey snuck up on me. When she passed me, I kind of panicked. With about 50 to go, I got my thoughts together and thought, “Hey! This is districts! I’m going to give it all I got.” I fought to catch up to her and match her speed. I put in all the effort I could give and lost by just .01 seconds.
After the race, I was so proud of my performance. I was able to be pushed further than I ever had before in a race. The result was a second place; however, I knew I did my best. I was able to PR. During this track season I’ve learned a lot about me and what the body can do. I realized that our body can go further and harder than our mind tells us they can. You have to be positive and believe in yourself. This particular race at Districts definitely has given me the experience to recognize what I can do. I’m just excited to compete more with Whisper and be pushed by the team and other competitions in the coming weeks.