Chaski coach Dylan Lowry raced the 1500m in the Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville, Tennessee. 2020 racing is certainly a unique experience, but Dylan's positive attitude allowed him to manage his expectations and achieve a solid result.
At the beginning of 2020, I was in the best shape of my running career and had a full racing schedule to look forward to. As COVID took form, nearly all of my racing schedule disappeared with one exception; The Music City Distance Carnival. But even it got repeatedly postponed back from May to June, and again, finally to August.
The uncertainty became so frustrating that sometime in mid-June, I decided to bail on the race altogether. I emailed the race director and asked for a refund but still, something didn't feel right. After a week-long break, training resumed and I kept thinking about the possibility of racing in the meet. After all, PR or no PR, how many people can say they raced in a pandemic? Just, a week after sending that email, I emailed the race director again asking to remain in the meet.
I put in a good month of training, but I knew I had lost fitness after a long year and the training inconsistencies it brought. I resolved to approach the race with realistic expectations; all you can do is shoot your shot on race day!
When race week arrived, I had to test negative for COVID twice (surreal realities of racing in a pandemic). On Friday, we hit the road for a 6.5hr drive to Nashville. The race was not until Saturday night at 8 pm CT, so I had lots of time to kill during the day. When the race heats were announced, they included some of the best 1500m runners in the country! This was my first time racing a 1500 in 5 years, and as the slowest seed, I began feeling nervous.
However, I focused on staying in the present and controlling what I could. Arriving at the venue, I saw professional runners such as Emma Coburn and Nick Willis -- world and Olympic medalists! Seeing them, my nerves and fear subsided and I started to get excited about the upcoming race. This was a dream to race with athletes of this level and here I was.
For safety, the meet required face-masks until warm-up, but luckily not during the race. 24 hours prior, we received an email saying absolutely no spectators (previously the plan was 1 per person). The stands were virtually empty with fans on the outskirts of the fences peeking in. The officials escorted each heat onto the track every five minutes, all from a separate warm-up area.
The race itself went out hot! Coming through 800m in 2:03, I was almost last with a gap forming. I then lost contact with the leaders who ended up running 3:40 for 1500 (3:57 mile). I finished in an underwhelming 3:56.00, a little over 5 seconds off my PR. However, I went into this race managing my expectations extremely well. I was in decent shape given the uncertainties of this year, and I got the opportunity to race in the most elite track race of my life.
This was a long time goal of mine, and now I have a story to tell for years to come. This race gave me a newfound motivation to take my training to the next level and be able to go stride for stride with the big dogs. On to the next!