Those two weeks passed by in a blur and before I could take a break, I was on another plan headed to Tennessee. Once in Tennessee, I soon was introduced to my host family for the weekend, the Noberts. I could already see how amazing my host family was. They were so accommodating and kind. I felt like family.
Like the West Chester meet, the athletes were invited to a dinner the night before the race. There I saw multiple friends from the last meet including Jesse, Kenyetta, Travis, and Craig. Also like the last meet, I met all the other runners in the guys and girls race. At this dinner, I found out that some of the racers had dropped from the race and only 6 remained. I also found out that there would be a rabbit in the race going through 800 meters in 2:09 (My PR...)
The next night, each of the racers was called to the line, introduced to the crowd, and to get ready to start the race. Before the start, I felt a bit nervous, but looking into the crowd, the Nobert’s waved me down, melting my nerves away. Before the nerves could set back in, BANG, again we were off in a dash. Three runners, Sara Vaughn, Kate Van Buskirk, and Sara Sutherland, went out with the rabbit. The other runners, Margaret Connelly, Kenyetta, and I were left in our own pack to duke it out for 4th and 5th. During the race Margaret and I fought for the front inside rail, but like the last race, I stayed as calm and collected as possible but with 500 meters to go, began to build into my kick with the last 200m going as hard as possible. Going into the final lap, I told myself again that if I was going to go through all this financial trouble and effort, no one in my pack was going to get to that finish line before me.
Crossing that finish line, I felt elated over the effort. The time was not my best, but within a second or two of my pb. I was happier with the attitude I had during the race and knowing that I was going to walk away from Memphis with over $600 in my pocket. Calling Tim and my dad, they were just as excited as I was. Connecting with the Nobert’s afterwards, they made me feel so great. Telling me how exciting it all was and they were so happy I would be able to walk away with some prize money. The next hour would be filled with several photo opportunities with all of the runners and signing some autographs. Not going to lie, it felt slightly like being a celebrity if only for a few minutes.
After pictures were done and everyone was packing up for home, I stood in that field, putting my warm ups back on, chatting with the other runners and getting their take of the race. Some happy, some slightly disappointed, but overall all happy to be apart of something as awesome as this. In that moment, I was sad that my summer track session was over, how short lived it was, but feeling so full and joyous that I could be here with other people, being apart of something we all understood and loved.
Over the summer, I went from crying in a field in Kentucky, feeling like there was nothing left for me to ending the summer in a similar field in Tennessee, smiling from ear to ear, excited for all the opportunities to come. I went from feeling entirely alone to feeling like I was apart of something bigger, part of a community that had already accepted me readily. My “what now?” evolved from a question that the edge of an abyss to the “what now?” of a young woman looking at all the doors she hasn't tried yet. To be honest I was hesitant about trying to pursue a post collegiate running career. At times I felt like an idiot chasing a fools dream, but now I know if I hadn't taken that leap, I would have only been left with regret. Sometimes we have to do what may be seen as foolish, risky, and weird to find something much greater.