Niehaus Talks About Footlocker Nationals

Submitted by Kate Niehaus
Spring Valley Junior

Although I really enjoyed going back to San Diego again, I did not run my best during the race. I\'m not exactly sure why I didn\'t run as well as I had hoped, because I had really thought that I was ready beforehand.

I left home early on Thursday morning and arrived in San Diego that afternoon. My parents were able to get the same flight as me, and there were other runners on the flight from Chicago to San Diego (we went from Columbia to Chicago to San Diego). Once again, we received a bunch of free stuff and stayed in the Hotel del Coronado. On Friday we had a course walk-through and a picnic lunch. There was plenty to entertain us on both Thursday and Friday, from a fortune teller to a caricaturist to a sticker machine to sand art to a tattoo man, and everything was free.

The race was on Saturday (9:15 for the girls). Although last year it had been warmer in San Diego than in Columbia, this year it was a lot warmer, and the course was muddier. When the race started I felt really good. I surprised myself by getting out really well (which is usually not my strong point) and was right behind the lead pack. I still felt really good all the way through the mile, and then we came to The Hill. (the entire 2-loop course is windy and rolling, and it has one steep uphill and downhill that we do twice). I tried to maintain my position going up, and then going down, but my legs began to feel very heavy and I fell back a lot in the pack. From that point on, I just tried to keep going. I\'m not sure why I felt so bad after the first hill, but I will be training hard so that the same thing won\'t happen next year.

My parents and grandparents had both come to the race, so afterwards I went out to lunch with them. Surprisingly, it became really foggy Saturday afternoon, which had negative consequences for our flights home. That night there was the awards ceremony and dance, and very little sleeping.

No planes were able to land in the San Diego airport because of the fog, so everyone\'s flights the next day were cancelled or delayed. Most of us left the hotel at 4:30 AM, but my parents and I didn\'t get home until about 12:30 AM. I didn\'t go to school on Monday, so I had two exams and a bunch of other assignments from the week before to make-up. Luckily I got it all done.

I\'m taking a 10-day break from running now, but I\'m really ready and excited for track. I\'m hoping to PR in the 3200 and 1600 and hopefully set a state record in one or both. I\'m also really excited about our 4x800 relay, which I think will be even better this year than last year. Right now we\'re not thinking of running any indoor meets except NIC, where I will probably run the 2-mile and our relay team will run the DMR or the 4x800. In cross-country I\'m also hoping to improve--it will be my last season of x-c while in high school.