Written by Shameal Samuels...
This morning was not very demanding for me, so I didn't get out of bed until 12:00 pm. I woke up around 9:00 and was really ready for today, so I blew up Bonnie's (Pisciotta) phone until she woke up and responded to my texts. We texted each other all morning until we both had to get ready to start our days.
I was too lazy again to get out of bed and have breakfast downstairs in the hotel, so I had my own breakfast in my room. I ate a banana, a pack of almonds, and a soft peanut butter granola bar, and washed it all down with a bottle of water.
Coach Chris went to the Jacksonville airport to pick Coach Carolyn up and Coach Steve and I met them outside of the lobby before we got lunch. We decided to get Panera for lunch. I ordered the turkey avocado BLT, because I love my bacon. We sat in Panera and caught Coach Carolyn up with what we have been up to while she was away, as I also received advice and words of encouragement from the coaches about my race that would have been going off in a few hours.
After lunch we came back to the hotel to rest and relax before heading over to the University of North Florida Hodges Stadium, the track & field facility. I took a two hour nap before getting myself ready for the meet, and meeting the coaches in the lobby. It's about a 10-15 minute drive from our hotel to the facility. Once we arrived at the track, we did the whole registration process and I received my bib numbers (a small one for the front, and a bigger one for the back).
We found some shaded seating in the stadium and watched a few heats of the women's and men's 1500m races before I warmed up for the 400m. Watching some of the 1500m races was good for me because it helped me calm some of my nerves. About one hour before the 400m was supposed to go off, I grabbed my backpack and foam roller, and headed over to the practice track with Coach Steve to begin my warm up.
I checked myself in for the 400m and got my spikes checked, and then I did my five minute warmup run on the inside field of the practice track. During my entire warm up all I could think about was how my race was going to go and my game plan for how I planned to run my race. I was a little nervous, but not more than the usual. I tried to keep my mind off of things by looking around the track and watching the other athletes. After dynamics and wall drills, Coach Steve gave me a few words of encouragement and suggested I did a few striders and some practice block starts before getting into the bullpen.
Coach Steve wished me luck and I headed over to the bullpen and got my hip number as my name was called. I sat in the seats as I waited for my heat to be called and did a few high knees and leg swings as I waited. Once my heat was called the other girls and I were instructed to walk down the back straightaway and wait for the heat before us to go before we can step on the track and set up our blocks.
I was in lane six, heat three. I tried my best not to stare at the finishing times for the heats before mine, because I did not want the time to freak me out. I stepped on the track and set my blocks, got into the set position, and was held there for quite a while before the gun went off. During my race I tried to keep the stagger the same with the girls in the outer lanes, and before I knew it the girl in lane five was already breaking the stagger on me.
After about 200m into the race it became hard for me to change gears and keep up with the pace of the race. Everything happened so fast after that. I tried as hard as I could to get across the finish line as fast as I could, but it was just not fast enough. I was last in my heat with a time of 54.78, the slowest time I have ran all season. I was a little upset at first and I tried to not let it get to me. I was proud of myself for coming this far, and happy that I was given the opportunity to race amongst the best 400m runners on the east coast.
After the race Coach Steve tried to cheer me up, and motivated me to look at this as a learning experience and an idea of what to expect next year. We watched the guys 400m races, and then headed over to the stands where we watched the women's and men's 800m races before we left the stadium and went to Longhorn Steakhouse for dinner.