The Finishing Kick with Kelly Spady

Nov. 19, 2008

Blogger: Kelly Spady
Meet: NCAA West Regionals
Location: Palo Alto, Calif.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 15

Leaving the UW campus, my thoughts were pretty unwavering. I truly believed that team wise we were going to come to the regional meet and get 3rd or 4th place. It has been no secret how bad everyone wants to make it to nationals and prove we are a top-10 team among the very best competition in the country. Those have been our goals all year, and we have done a lot to believe that is still attainable. So coming into this meet, it was not an option to think that we would not make it to the show and achieve this goal. Individually, my goal was to build off of my performance at Pac-10s and finish somewhere in the top 15.

I felt good the day before running with the team. Everyone seemed to be feeling good and ready to go. I was still really confident in the team. Warming up for the race, my legs felt great. I believed I was going to have a great race. I had a great conversation with Coach Metcalf and Coach Bean and felt as though my abilities at this point would allow me to to help our team with a top-15 finish.

Arriving at the course, it was business as usual. It was a little warm, but all the guys felt good on the warm-up and it was looking as though we would have the race we all expected. I was super nervous on the line, but once the gun went off all the nerves went away and I was out.

It was my best start of the year. I was in about 8th or 9th place at 1k, right next to teammate Jeremy Mineau. I was fully confident that this is where I should be. But slowly, I started to fall of the pace somewhere at midway. I think the heat was getting to me and began to wonder if I was hydrated and fully prepared to handle it, which was frustrating because it was 86 degrees at race time. But as I started to fall back, all I could think about was my team and how much they were counting on me to be at my best. I battled a little on that second lap trying to stay with the people I couldn't let beat me, but right as I thought it couldn't get any worse (sitting in 15-18th place) I got a side ache and fell way off the pace, getting passed and being non-responsive.

The day before the race I jokingly compared this race to a mile on the track, and said that I needed to push it a little on the third lap to keep myself there with everyone; this was quite the opposite of what I was actually doing. It felt as if I was running my cool down already. At this point all I could think was why have my teammates not passed me yet? They say that the person who has the least amount of negative thoughts throughout the race wins, so I was doing my best to try and stay positive but with my teammates nowhere to be seen I started to feel myself once again struggling, and just hoped that they would be able to get it done without me.

This was disheartening to me, to be feeling this way, because I pride myself in being able to dig through massive amounts of pain, but for some reason I was just non-responsive. Then something clicked, I don't know what it was, but with about 1500 meters to go I was able to push through the pain and start picking it up. At this point I just clung to the person in front of me and would not let him gap me, thankfully he was moving up and we were passing some people. With about maybe 500-600 meters to go (or so it seemed) I heard my coach ask for just 60 sec of all-out running, so I figured we were about 400 meters away so I dug in and I gave it my all. To my surprise I started to feel better and I passed one or two people. Then I realized he had misjudged the time it would take for me to get to the finish line but I was almost done so I kept on it and passed a few more people, giving it everything I had, just as long as I beat the person in front of me so I could at least get in the top 25.

Once I finished, I had never felt so light-headed and disappointed at the same time. I didn't know how we did for sure, but seeing that I was in 24th place and was our number two guy, I didn't think it could have been that good. Knowing that it would be my fault if we didn't make it to the next round I was really disappointed in myself for letting the team down. Hearing we got 5th later on and that our 3-5 guys were right behind me was a little relieving, but I was still uncertain whether or not we would make it. So there was a little uneasiness in me until I found out for sure that we were in. I would have hated to have let my team down, and to have ended the season on that note. I know I have more in me, and I know the team has more to give; it just didn't click on Saturday.

I am happy with the way our team has dealt with Regionals as well. In the past we might have been down on ourselves, but this year our group is different and more mature. We know how good we are, and we know that we gave it everything we had this day, and we now know that we will get another shot. I could not imagine being with a better group of guys. It's a great feeling to come to practice and to know the kind of fire power we have. November 24th is going to be a great day to be a Husky.

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