Friday, February 22, 2013

Big 12 Championships Pre Meet Thoughts

It's blizzarding here in Ames, where Iowa state is hosting the 2013 Big Twelve Indoor Track and Field Championships this weekend.  Being from Wisconsin, I'm supposed to be used to the cold and snow, but the Texas 'winter' has spoiled me and I've lost my supernatural powers.  So I'll just cower in my hotel room and blog alongside the obnoxiously noisy heater.  

I'm pretty sure the Oklahoma State team was eaten by the
Abominable Snowman, since they're not here yet.
The meet has been delayed a day because Oklahoma State's bus got stranded by winter storm Q in Topeka, Kansas.  Next time, OSU, try this new device for getting to faraway meets.  Jokes aside, the meet wouldn't be the same without the Cowboy's distance runners in the mix.  We want to win the team championship fair and square and it would be easier for us Longhorns to score points in the longer events without them here.  In that scenario a conference title wouldn't be as sweet.

This weekend is special for me since it's the last conference meet I get to run in as a collegiate.  Warming up on the track yesterday for my mile prelim tomorrow the day after tomorrow, I felt the buzz that surrounds a championship meet.  Teams nervously eye each other up.  Occasionally the tension is broken by old friends (or rivals) from high school reuniting and maybe jogging a lap together (There was a lot of schmoozing like that in the Ivy League.)  A certain mutual respect exists between track and field athletes, even in intensely competitive situations.  It's because everyone knows and appreciates the work the other has put in - since they have too.  That said, no one will be taking any step, jump, or throw lightly the next two days.  Some of the best athletes in the country and world are here competing, and they'll take advantage of the tiniest mistake you make.  It's exciting, it's stressful, I love it.

Before arriving at Texas in the fall, I didn't know how invested in the program or how loyal to the school and team I would become.  I felt like a mercenary, trained to kill (run) and hired out by a foreign entity.  I had built up so much love for Princeton and so many memories of running and living in New Jersey that there seemed little room for this totally new place in my heart.  I'm glad that my mindset has changed since.  I've run the metaphorical trails of Austin many times now.  I know where I'm going and how to get there.  And I've enjoyed the process because my team mates and coaches have made it easy to adjust.  That's really all I can ask for, except of course a conference title.

Quick Summary of the Situation:
The Big Twelve makes a good case for being the best distance running conference in the country this year.  Nationally, it has the second best 800 performance,  nine of the top 25 performances in the mile (all under four minutes), eight of the top 25 in the 3000, and four of the top 20 in the 5000 (including #1).  Kansas state is really strong in the field events and will be our main team competition.  Oklahoma won't be far behind with their strong middle distance/distance and good jumps athletes.  One advantage for us over Kansas State indoors is the number of middle distance/distance races contested - the 600y, 800, 1000, mile, 3k, and 5k all favor teams with good lungs.  Our distance unit needs to take advantage of that fact  by getting around the Oklahoma schools.  If we can do that, we'll be in good shape.

I hope to keep blogging about the weekends events from an individual and team standpoint!