The NCAA Cross Country National Championships are a very unique event. Even though the Mountain West Championships and the NCAA West Regional Championships are also big and unique competitions, the feeling that this meet creates is completely different and amazing.
It still felt a bit strange knowing that I qualified for this meet. But as soon as we arrived in Indianapolis and I saw a big screen showing clips from last year's championships and welcoming the coaches, athletes, and fans it slowly started getting real. I thought it was very cool that my hotel room key had the NCAA Championships design on it.
Today, Coach Wick and I went out to the course to do our pre-meet run. We ran about 35 minutes. The course was amazing! We were able to run about one and a half of the two 5k loops to see what it was like. The course is very wide throughout.
The NCAA banners, NCAA designs on the grass, and the setup in general, created a feeling that just can't be described unless you're here. Even going into the participant packet and bib pick-up area was a unique experience. Everyone treated the athletes and coaches so well. After receiving our packets, we were directed to another table to pick up a really nice NCAA medal that is awarded for qualifying for the championships. I thought it was a very nice way for them to help the athletes feel like we earned our spot to be here. It was a very humbling experience.
As I was doing some dynamic stretches and strides on the course, I had the opportunity to start getting not only physically, but also mentally prepared for tomorrow's competition. Seeing the different teams and athletes from different parts of the U.S doing their pre-meet warm up and realizing the level of competition that I'm going to be in wiht tomorrow got me pumped up for the race, but at the same time a bit emotional.
I went through a plethora of feelings in my mind and heart. At that moment I thought about all my experiences, struggles, and obstacles that I have encountered in both running and life up to this point. I was able to turn those thoughts into motivation. Thinking about where I came from and all the dedication and sacrifice that I have put in for a moment like this increased my desire of obtaining one of the top 40 spots which will earn an All-American honor.
Not seeing many Latinos out in the course was something that encouraged me to run well tomorrow and represent my community. Not only will I be representing my community, but also San José State, my family and everyone back at home. Receiving many calls and messages from my family and friends really got me excited and motivated for tomorrow! It is such a blessing from God to be part of this event because without him nothing would be possible. This is also another opportunity for me to give it my best.
Going into tomorrow, I feel very relaxed and ready to have fun! I know I may not be the biggest, strongest, nor fastest athlete, but for sure I know that God will provide me with the strength I need in order to run with all my heart.