Sponsored athlete and Olympic hopeful distance runner Katie Mackey shares her experience at the recent World Relay Championships in the Bahamas:
Well, Bahamians sure love track! And that means they know how to throw a killer track meet: opening ceremonies, live Junkanoo band and dancers, flames shooting out of the ground as the races were finishing, and drinks in hand! The decibel level in the stands rivaled anything I have ever heard at a live sporting event.
The Bahamians love the USA too! Everywhere we went in the days leading up to the event, when people on the streets saw our team USA gear they would chant "USA! USA! USA!" After events the USA won they played the national anthem, and the stands were filled with people singing OUR anthem. It brought tears to my eyes (because I am a sucker, and it was amazing).
Running relays happened to be my favorite events in high school and college because of the team element (and I still think they are the most fun even though chances to run as a team at the pro level are fewer!). For a moment in time, you are intimately connected with a few other individuals working as intensely as you can towards a common goal, and I love that feeling! It’s so thrilling to see the look in a teammates eyes as they come towards you at the end of their leg and you can see that they’re giving 100%, it fires me up and makes me excited to be out there!
What an honor to compete for the first time with an American flag on my jersey, it was a very emotional moment for me! My heart filled with pride as I thought about the long standing tradition of excellence that is USA Track and Field, and all the athletes that have also represented our country.
Heather ran a solid first leg, taking the race out at an honest pace and getting the baton to me right behind the leaders. I waited until Heather was mere yards away took a few hard steps off the line, looked back until the baton was safely in my grip (so far so good, just like we practiced) and then, Bam! A solid wall of runner girl (which is actually a lot more like running into a brick wall then you would think)! It was a perfect storm of me receiving the baton on the curve and Buckman wandering out of her lane on post-race jelly legs. It was extremely unfortunate. Kate ran courageously to get us back in second, and Brenda ran like a champ giving us a comfortable cushion over third. Who knows what would have happened if we could have been closer and there wasn't a fall? Hopefully we will see next year, I really think in the 1500m the USA ladies are deep and can run with anyone.
One of the most challenging parts of racing is when you come into a race having visualized everything going perfectly… but this rarely happens and you have to be prepared for anything. A mantra that I like to repeat to myself often during racing is: IT’S NOT OVER ’TIL IT’S OVER! When you don’t get out well, start to get passed, or something major like a crash happens it’s best to remember that nothing is set in stone yet! You are still in the race and you still have control over what happens next! Stay in the moment. In that moment, all that mattered was getting as close to the Kenyan and Australian girls ahead of me so my teammates would have their best shot at passing them and winning the race.
Team USA wins the GOLDEN BATON! Want to experience some national pride? Try standing on a stage holding the American flag in a golden confetti rain (I don't know how you would re-create this, but if you could you would appreciate how exciting it was for team USA to win the meet!). I have never experienced a national team track and field title before and just in case you're wondering it most definitely lives up to all the hype- just look at the wide eyes of the male Junkanoo dancer...
- See more at: http://www.katie-mackey.com