Brittney Hansen is a freshmen at Bowling Green High School. Her team XC team is currently ranked #2 in Class AAA. She was the Middle School State Champion in the 1600m Run last year as well as finishing 6th overall in Class AAA in the same event at the high school level.
I woke up Saturday morning extremely nervous. Usually I am nervous before races but this was different. It was my first varsity race as a high schooler.
I have a lot of experience in running as I have been running on the varsity team since I was in the 6th grade, so I wasn’t nervous about my capability, I was nervous because I felt like I had to prove something.
This whole summer I have been training very hard. Running 40 miles or more a week; I felt like if I didn’t do my best then all that hard work would go to waste. Yes I know it’s only the first race of the season and it’s not like it’s state, but the first race is very important. If you didn’t do your best your first race then it could mentally hurt you for the rest of the season; that first race would be in the back of your head negatively hurting you, and it could ruin the rest of the season. This is how I look at it, some people are different. Some people don’t worry about their race; if they did bad at a race, some would just forget about it because there is nothing you can do about it now. Some people are just mentally stronger than others. I’m not going to talk to you about mental stability with running so I will go on with my story.
When we got to the meet, we unloaded the bus, set up our tent, and the girls and I went for a warm up. Warm-ups get me very nervous because I know we are closer to the race beginning and I usually base my race on how I feel on my warm-up. On my warm-up Saturday, I felt hot and tired. I already had negative thoughts going through my head even before the race started! After our warm up I tried to get those negative thoughts out of my head by talking to my dad, pumping myself up, and just trying to think positive. When we walked over to the start I said good luck to my partner, since we were doing a 6K, gave my dad a hug (something I do before every race for good luck), and went to where the other partners were waiting for their runner to come in. As I was stretching I found my other teammates just as nervous as I was. I don’t know why but when I find other people just as nervous as me, it calms my nerves. But they aren’t nervous for the same reason. When I see the girls who are running come closer and closer to us, I got sweaty hands and my pulse was racing. But as soon as I got that baton all those nerves went away. It’s weird how you can be so nervous before a race but as soon as you start that race, all you can think about is trying to get the person in front of you or trying to get a great time. When I first started my leg of the race I was 10 seconds behind the girl leading the race. We were in second. My teammates were only a couple of seconds behind me. When I got around the first two corners of the race my teammate catches up with me and we worked together trying to catch the girl in front of us. At a point during the race instead of catching up to this girl the gap got bigger. We went from 10 seconds to 14 seconds. I was little scared when I heard our coach yell that at us during the race. So my teammate and I picked up the pace. When we picked up the pace, we were only 5 seconds behind the girl and my teammate was going strong. I felt tired and I thought she was going to leave me and I would forget about even trying to get first. Once I let negative thoughts into my head generally my race is ruined. So I pushed those thoughts aside and just focused on staying with my teammate and trying to get the girl ahead of us. With about a less than half a mile left, I pulled away from my teammate and got closer and closer to the girl in front. As I was about to pass the girl I was thinking “what if she picks up the pace” or “what if when I pass her she’ll pass me and I would be dead”. I almost didn’t want to pass her for those reasons, but I thought again of all the hard work I’ve done over the summer and I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by, I thought if that happens just try as hard as you can. If I try as hard as I can, no one would be disappointed in me. As I pass her, I had more energy than I thought I had; with this confidence in my head I picked up the pace and was trying as hard as I could to stay in the lead and win this race for my partner and I. As I turn the corner I can hear everyone screaming my name and cheering me on and this made me push harder. As I finish I thought to myself, my training this summer didn’t go to waste. I’m ready for the rest of the season and state. I’d proven to myself and other people that just because I’m a freshman, the years of experience in running I have means if I set out to do something I can do it. That was my first varsity race as a high schooler, and it was one of my best yet.