My son Jack Butler is guest writing my blog today! I am so proud of him for all of his hard work this past year.
When I first qualified for the 2016 National Junior Olympics I was extremely excited and happy. While I was walking around the track at the opening ceremonies I felt proud of myself for being a part of something so big, where athletes from all over the country come to compete. All of the 100 degree track workouts seemed worth it. Finding the time to run and do track workouts on my family vacation was worth it. It wasn’t easy at the time, but nothing great comes easy.
Wednesday came and it was time for my 4x800m relay. After warming up with my team it was time to check in and line up. I was the anchor leg so I had the whole race to be nervous. I cheered for my teammates, then it was my turn. When I took the baton, my team was in ninth place; we needed top eight to get All American. I just tried to settle into my pace and do what I needed to do. I saw my coach yelling my splits but I couldn’t hear him over all the screaming, so I just kept trying to pace myself on the final lap. I felt good and tried to pass people. I knew we were at least top eight now and just tried to finish strong. We came in sixth place. Standing on the stage getting my hat and medal felt like a great accomplishment.
I had a couple of days rest before my 3000m on Saturday and just ran a couple easy recovery miles. Saturday morning I arrived early, warmed up, checked in and waited to line up. It was getting pretty warm out already. When I was lined up and the guy said, “set,” and I was waiting for the gun to go off, I could feel this rush of nerves just going through my body, but it all went away when the gun went off. To make it short, the race didn’t go as planned and I was disappointed; I felt like I couldn’t breath and my legs wouldn’t go, but I never gave up and still pushed. My time was 10:49, five seconds over my personal record. I went to cool down and tried to let it go, bad races happen.
I got a good rest, then Sunday came and it was time to warm up for the 1500m race. This time I didn’t have any of my teammates to warm up with; it was just me. Check in seemed to take a while today, so I tried to stay loose and ready. As I was walking to check in one of my coaches told me, “it’s only five minutes, you can do anything for five minutes, right?” I told her it would be under five minutes. I was in heat 2 of 3, so I watched the first heat run before me. Finally, it was time for my race. We lined up and got set, then the gun went off. The first lap was very fast, the next two laps were a blur, and then it was down to the final lap. I glanced at the clock as I was coming down to the last lap and I realized I had to run a 1:18 and knew I had to really push. I just kept telling myself to push. My legs wanted to stop, but I kept pushing. I crossed the finish line and saw my time was a 4:59! I was very happy and felt a sense of accomplishment.
Overall, being a part of the National Junior Olympic meet was amazing. Running against the best athletes in the country is something to be proud of. I had two personal records and one All American finish. Running with my 4x800m team made us not just a team, but also friends. Getting ready for the meet and being a part of it made me really excited about running. Running on that track with lots of people watching me makes me feel great. Most of the hard work happens when no one’s watching, but those five to ten minutes on the track when I get to run make it all worth it.