A Journal Entry by Liz
The 1998 Goodwill Games were in New York City. Some of my family is from Scarsdale, New York, so they came to see my race.
We missed the first athlete shuttle we were supposed to take from the athlete hotel to the stadium, so we had to wait to take the next one. Tara, Courtney and I were pretty stressed since we got there late. I could tell Coach was about to kill us once we arrived (!) but didn’t want to really go into it right then, so he just kind of held it all in but I swear there was steam coming out of his ears! 🙂 (We are always such trouble makers.)
We hurried to start our warm up and had about 45 minutes (a little shorter than the normal 55-60 minutes we typically take). I was stressed, but sometimes you just have to put it out of your mind and “pretend” everything is fine by telling yourself that you have had plenty of time to warm up or that you don’t need the extra time. I find that when you can’t change something, you have to resort to positive self-talk!
When the race started, I felt ready to go, but it usually takes a lap or two to kinda feel things out and to tell how you’re truly feeling that day. There were two Russians and a Canadian leading the pack. Since it was one of my first International races, I was shocked at how rough the girls were. Elbows were flying, everyone was getting pushed, but I just tried to hold my ground and hold my spot. Things were pretty bunched up since a couple of the lead girls didn’t have very smooth form over the barriers. I felt like I had to jump high over the barriers and crunch my form in order to avoid running into the girls in front of me. The girls were stuttering or slowing down over each barrier, so I kept trying to focus on how to not hit a barrier or hit a person each time we jumped. As we came around the home stretch of that fourth lap, and approached the home stretch barrier, I remember feeling like there was nowhere to jump and that I was going to hit the girl in front of me. I must have lost a bit of concentration when the pack slowed. I hit my trail leg knee on the barrier and fell to the ground.
I felt the most excruciating pain I had felt ever. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I couldn’t breath. I think I must have hit some kind of nerve or something, because usually just hitting your knee doesn’t hurt that bad. You know those times you hit your funny bone REALLY hard and it kinda takes your breath away for that first minute because of the pain? That’s how I felt. Even though it probably wasn’t that long, to me, every second feeling like an eternity. I got up on my other leg and tried to step onto my bad leg. My leg hurt like nothing else and collapsed because I couldn’t put weight on it. It was weird – it felt kind of like when your leg is waking up from having fallen asleep and it gets all tingly and it stings. The pain was so sharp, I was trying to catch my breath and started to crying in pain and anger. I was so so so frustrated that I had fallen down. I felt great in the race up until the point I fell, and I was so disappointed.
I started limping down the track trying to put a little bit of weight on my leg – a little more with each step. I was limping slash walking slash awkwardly jogging. I was mad! I just wanted to keep going, but I was so upset that I was out of the race. With each step, I was able to put a little more weight on my leg. I felt determined to finish the race. After a little while longer I was able to jog a little more and a little faster. I gradually picked up the pace. I stopped sobbing after that next lap and was able to pull myself together to finish the race.
I could see my face on the big screen over those last few laps. Part of me was embarrassed – I was crying, and behind the pack by about a half lap. Part of me was just simply determined to finish to prove something to myself. I finished the race, kicking as hard as I could down the home stretch. I crossed the line – obviously completely disappointed, but feeling some sense of resolve that I had gotten up and finished. My uncle and aunt were there cheering for me as I finished. My uncle said he had never been as proud of me as he was as I finished that race. That meant a lot.
I don’t think Courtney and Tara felt good about their races either. They are both amazing athletes and I think they were affected by the stress (and lack of warm up that we were able to do) from missing the shuttle.
Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase
1 RUS Svetlana Rogova 09:57.62
2 ROM Daniela Petrescu 09:58.28
3 USA Lesley Lehane 10:08.29
4 RUS Marina Pluzhnikova 10:16.61
5 CAN Karen Harvey 10:18.24
6 USA Courtney Meldrum 10:31.77
7 USA Tara Haynes 10:32.40
8 USA Elizabeth Jackson 10:45.97