|Shihlin Lu - 3000m|
I had originally planned to end my track season earlier in May after a track meet in
Colorado, but an unexpected cancellation (which was then brought back on at the last
minute) of the women’s 3000m steeplechase event made me think: 1) accept the reality
or 2) find other track meets to extend my season throughout the end of May. It also
must have been fate that I was not meant to race that weekend because I was in the
midst of preparing to move; traveling to Colorado, racing, and moving the day after I
returned would have been a very stressful combination.
Steeplechase race opportunities are almost nonexistent in New Mexico (at least at the
open level). However, I was happy to find two more local track meets that offered the
3000m. This would still allow me to get accustomed to the steeplechase in terms of
distance, but without the huge hurdles and water barrier.
When I arrived to the track around 8am, there were already lots of people, tents, and
the 100m hurdles event in progress. The weather was great with seldom wind and
around 60 degrees. After a one mile warm up, running drills, and stretches, I walked
over to the starting line to discover that the rest of my competitors were all of middle
school age or younger. This did not surprise me, as I already knew that this particular
track meet had a youth focus. Because of this, I reminded myself that those competitors
are not truly my competitors, especially as they have significantly less stress in their
life. It would have been nice to see more adult competitors and see other fellow Dukes
(either racing or spectating), but I went to run my own race.
I knew the others would take off really fast in the first lap, so I tried to quickly settle
into a controlled pace for the first mile. I lost track of my splits after the first two laps
(1:53 and 4:01), but my first mile clocked in at 9:35. With three laps remaining, I kept
focused and attempted to increase my pace. As I approached the last 200m, I glanced at
the large stationary timer and could not believe I was able to finish way under 19:00
(my main race goal). I picked up my pace even more and finished in 18:21.
While I am pleased with the result and left the track with a smile, there was one point
during the race where I thought my speed could have been even more consistent and
faster. On another hand, my two previous 3K time trials were 19:42 (May) and 19:20
(March), so the race was evidence enough that I ran with a solid effort. I also think my
race visualization technique before the start of the race aided me with the improved
performance: focusing on my goal and to not have a wandering mind as I ran around
the oval track with so many people gathered around. As I hopefully continue to lower
my 3K times and specialize as a middle distance runner/steeplechaser, I will be able to
run at more competitive track meets in the future. In order to run at those track meets,
which all seem to be located in the west or northwest coasts, I need to find as many race
opportunities that I currently qualify for. If that means I have to run in the same race as
middle school aged runners, so be it.
I am excited about my next and final 3000m race to close out this first (of many) track
seasons. Then, I’ll transition back to road races for the rest of this year. Lastly, when it
comes to racing, I truly believe it’s not about who runs the fastest or farthest, but who
has the most guts to sign up in the first place, and then actually execute a race. If my
DNF at my first steeplechase race back in April devastated me so much, I would have
quit competitive track and road racing by now.