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Joanna Hayes: What my first race in 3.5 years was like - like nothing I've ever experienced!

posted by JHayes, a Women Talk Sports blogger
Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 5:52pm EST

About JHayes:

Track athlete for most of my life...2004 Olympic Gold Medalist in the 100 hurdles and Olympic record holder at 12.37! I love sports and what is does for young girls and women, I believe I will be act...more

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Joanna Hayes at USATF Classic

Joanna before the race - Photo courtesy of @USATrack_Field

It's been just over a week since I ran my first track meet in 3 1/2 years!  I figured now is a good time to tell you all about it since I've had some time to let it all sink in.  Who knows what I would have written right after I stepped off the track...

To be perfectly honest, I was a little disappointed.  I planned not to be upset regardless of the outcome, but being a competitor I always expect the best and come down hard on myself for not executing properly.  I expected to run the same way I had in my final practice that Thursday leading up to the meet.  That expectation was way too high because I have to remember this was a competition and it is different from practice.  I realize that now and I can say that I am satisfied with my performance, all things considered. 

I'm going I tell you about my weekend.  Friday was my travel day, and it went smoothly which is always nice.  Zoe (my 14-month-old daughter) was a very good traveler as always. 

What was that you asked?  Yes, I brought Zoe! And no, I did not have anyone traveling with me; it was just the two of us. 

Yes, you're right -  that was a risky move!  Here is why I did it. 

This meet was a last-minute decision, and the tickets to Northern Arkansas were super expensive!  And if I used my miles, it would be 37,500 miles. There was no way I was going to spend $1,000.00 or use that many miles for this meet.  I figured it's the first one and there is no pressure, so I'm going to save my money and miles for a big outdoor meet, like maybe Olympic Trials! 

Anyway, Zoe and I arrived and saw some of our friends that we had not seen in awhile and had dinner with Allyson Felix, aka "Zoe's Mommy #2" (self-titled of course) and I tell you what: Arkansas was colder than we California girls are used to.  That walk across the street felt like it took 20 minutes! We were freezing!! But we had a nice dinner and headed back to the hotel, hung out a bit and went to bed...well Zoe went to bed and I got in the ICE BATH!   I hate the ICE BATH!  But I did it because it is a necessary evil for athletes.  

Zoe slept fairly well; she "only" woke up about 3 times.  I didn't get much sleep however.  But I'm used to that, so no biggie :)

The next day was the day of the meet and usually I can just sit back, relax, and take a nap on meet days.  This day was a little different.  Zoe doesn't really care about my normal pre meet routine, so instead we were on her plan which was no nap, no rest, and walking around the hotel because she was stir crazy.  Shouldn't I be the one who is stir crazy?

She finally fell asleep 30 minutes before I needed to be downstairs to catch the shuttle to go to the track meet. Good timing, Mommy can get ready! I handed Zoe off to my friend Melissa right before I began my warm at the track.

My warm-up went okay up until I started to hurdle.  I was sluggish and "off" I knew I did not have the "pop" that I needed to run a race, especially one as short as 60 meters - that's all power and explosiveness.  But, I wasn't concerned; I was going out there to give it my all. 

When I stepped on the track, what did I hear?  Yep, you guessed it - my baby girl crying! Uh oh! That made me sad. Dawn Harper kept me focused, reminding me of what I already knew in the back of my head - that "Zoe is going to be fine," so I refocused and prepared to run.  Standing behind my blocks during intros, I heard her again!  OK, this was all new to me.  Not my baby crying or standing behind my blocks but the two things happening simultaneously! It was so strange and sad at the same time.  I knew she was in good hands and just missing her mommy though, so I got myself together and stepped in to my blocks. 

The gun went off and there was no turning back; I ran as fast as I could to the first hurdle.  I was not in last!   Not too bad.  Then it all got a little weird kind of like in a dream when you can’t move.  I was definitely moving, just not as fast as everyone else!  I kept repeating what I was supposed to be doing in my head and trying to do it but it just was not happening!  Once I came off hurdle 5 I was confused because the finish line was so far away (it's farther indoors than outdoors I forgot that) and I was behind, so I didn't press or lean which I am supposed to do every time I race!  I will next time!

Afterwards I was a little disappointed, but I did smile like I promised. Mostly I was trying to get to Zoe in a hurry.  But, someone had taken my running tights by mistake! We were all wearing the same Nike clothes so I can see how it happened but we had separate baskets so it was kind of frustrating so finally I just decided to grab a pair of tights that were sitting there which clearly belonged to the woman who took my mine.  Anyway, I got to Zoe and she was fine, just hungry and sleepy.  Melissa did a great job!   She had her in the hallway while she was screaming hoping I wouldn't hear her but that clearly did not work because Zoe has some major lunges on her!  

We enjoyed a nice dinner with my training group, the BK Ridaz, then headed back to the hotel to pack.  Our flight left at 6 am and the shuttle at 4 am.  So, there was no sleep in my future! We got to the airport, and they told me my flight was scheduled for 9:30 am.

"No, that's not true.  I checked it for the 6am flight already, and there is no way I'm saying here until 9:30."  I said with the least amount of attitude and distain I could muster up.  (I'm a changed woman now that I am a mother.)  

What happened was my connecting flight was canceled, and I had a choice to either go to Houston and have a 4-hour layover or to Chicago, but either way I would be getting home at least 2 hours later.  I chose Chicago even though I'm always leary about flying through there because there is almost always a weather delay! But this time was smooth, so smooth that we were moved up to first class - perfect!  A nice gentleman wanted to sit with his lady so he moved back into coach into my seat. "Thanks lady at the ticket counter in Arkansas! Great seat choice!" So, Zoe and I enjoyed all the extra room, special treatment, and slept quite well up there.  The only problem is now we do not want to go back to coach.  We are bougie now!   

So, all and all it was a good trip and the track meet provided my coach and I with something to work with.  We were able to study my race and will now use it in my training to prepare me for the season.

Thanks for reading, I will update you all again soon. Until then be happy and healthy!

~Joanna

Watch Joanna's race below - can you hear Zoe? 

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There is 1 comment on this post. Join the discussion!

Grandiva says:

Great Read!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 8:21am EST

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