The Finishing Kick with Anita Campbell

Oct. 22, 2008

Meet: Pre-Nationals
Location: Terre Haute, Indiana
Date: Saturday, Oct. 18th
Travelling Squad: Christine Babcock, Mel Lawrence, Lauren Saylor, Katie Follett, Kendra Schaaf, Kailey Campbell, Anita Campbell

Going into this weekend, we knew that we were about to experience the first true test of our ability against some of the best athletes in the country. It's a nerve-racking experience to anyone placed in that situation no doubt, but it was a relief for us to finally know that we were being given the opportunity to put ourselves to the test. We used the Pre-National meet as a gauge to assess where we were at and what we were going to need to focus on in the weeks to come.

I took what was my 7th trip across the country to run my final Pre-National meet at the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Indiana. We started our trip Thursday morning and made our way to SeaTac with 7 men and 7 women on our bus and upon our arrival at the airport we were greeted by some true Husky diehards. Coach Kelly's parents and her niece and nephew were standing curbside at the check-in holding signs of support. It was a true testament to what it means to be a part of the Husky family.

We then flew through Minneapolis where we managed to meet up with the WSU team who were also on their way to Indianapolis. It's always nice to meet up with some familiar faces when you are on the other side of the country, and it's always nice for Mel to see her sister Collier who is a volunteer assistant with the Cougs. It was a long day of traveling, but our coaches have managed to become pros throughout their years and have mastered the art of speedy car rental and prime hotel choice. It was an easy transition to the hotel where we got a good nights rest and were ready to get our job started on Friday morning.

We got an early start, with a 9 a.m. shake-out and drills around the hotel area and then took the 70 mile drive to Terre-Haute. We drove straight to the course to do our pre-race routine. It's always nice to experience Terre-Haute during the month of October, before the weather starts to get cold and the leaves have disappeared. Driving to the course you pass endless miles of corn fields and farmland. It's a different world than what we are used to in Seattle. Over the past few years of visiting Terre Haute, I have come to appreciate what it offers to the athletes who visit. They have a course that is solely made for us. No golf courses, no park is a true cross country course that manages to test every one of us to our limits. Every time I visit I recollect on the great accomplishments that athletes have achieved over the past years on the course and it becomes somewhat of a privilege to know that you will get to test yourself on one of the biggest stages in our sport.

It was great weather as we ran the course and did our strides near the start and finish lines. We were all relaxed and enjoying the experience. We have a couple new freshmen in Kendra and Christine and a sophomore in Kailey who had never seen the course, so it was nice for them to finally be able to have a picture of the Indiana course in their minds for the weeks to come.

Race Day: We were up by 7 a.m. and outside getting an easy jog in and waking up our legs a bit. We grabbed something to eat and then got ready to leave for the course. When we first arrived the sky was covered with clouds. It was completely unexpected since the previous day had been so sunny and warm. I was wearing about 3 layers and gloves while still managing to find myself thinking about how cold I was. But within a matter of 30 min the clouds started to disappear and the sun came out. We were running the first race, the Blue race, at 11 a.m. Our warm up started an hour before as we ran through a quick shake-out and then headed out for a 15 min run. We got to the line 20 min before the start, checked in, and started our strides. This is the moment when I truly appreciate cross country for what it is. Coach had always preached that there is nothing that truly matters until our spikes are on and we are standing on the start line. It's always a relief for me to know that there is not more waiting involved and that in a few minutes everything will be up to us. Like I said before, this was my 7th time to the Nationals course, but this time I was experiencing something different than all the other times. The UW women's team is truly on a mission. You can't really find out what teams are made of until they are put together in a position where there is pressure and expectation, both of which we experienced on Saturday. We were nervous of course, but in our circle before the start Mel Lawrence made it all very clear for all 6 of her teammates and made sure we were going to go out and race the way we were capable of. Simply put, forget everything, and show people what we are made of.

We went 3, 4, 5, 8, 16, 27, and 51.

The Huskies have a job to do this season. From the 1st woman on our team through to the 30th...we have one goal. I'm a firm believer that in order to achieve our greatest goals, you have to believe in the process and you have to believe in yourself... by that you will realize that anything is possible to accomplish. We have all committed to expecting greatness from each other and to make sure we all stay on track till the end. Watch out November 24th...the Huskies are coming back to Terre Haute for redemption.

-Anita Campbell

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