It’s 7:30am and my alarm goes off – but I’ve already been wide wake since 6am. Today is the day I get to race the 10,000m at the Olympic Games. I can’t believe today is finally here. I go through my usual pre-race getting ready routine, then have a shower and head to the Team Canada lounge for breakfast. There’s a few athletes hanging out having breakfast and watching TV – they wish me luck and I head back to my room to grab my bag. I have a calm confidence I’ve never had before. Today is my day!
I meet my teammate Lanni downstairs in the lobby, where a Team Canada manager checks our bags to make sure we haven’t forgotten anything. We chat a bit, just trying to keep things as normal as possible. This was advice I had received from many previous Olympians – treat race day (and the race itself) like any other race.
We arrive at the stadium and walk to the warm up area for a 20 minute warm-up jog. After we finish the jog, I head off on my own to do my drills and strides. I do my best not to look around at the other girls warming up.
I hear the announcement for women’s 10,0000m first call. Lanni and I stop by the Canada tent, and get lots of good luck cheers from athletes, coaches and the support team. Race bib numbers are being distributed and bags are getting checked – I have no time to be nervous because it is so busy!
There is a big camera right as you enter the stadium. Being the spunky girl that I am, I go right up to the camera and give a big two handed wave with a silly smile on my face. I’m at the Olympics and I’m gonna enjoy every moment! I run through the tunnel and into the massive stadium. I’m overwhelmed with nerves and excitement. I look around and think about my parents – where are they sitting? Are they nervous? Are they excited? I feel an immediate sense of calmness knowing they are here somewhere. No matter what happens today, they will be proud of me.
I can feel the energy of the Olympic stadium. We are now lined up on the starting line, and they are doing the introductions for TV. Suddenly, I am hit with a huge wave of anxiety – is this really happening? I feel like I’m going to burst into tears, and feel like I can’t stand still for one more second… and just like that the gun goes off, and the biggest race of my life begins.
I get a good start and settle in right on the inside along the rail. For the first half of a race of this length, you should just shut your mind off and settle in with a pack. I go through 800m in just under 2:30 and I’m midway in the pack. My legs are feeling fresh and my mind is calm. The nerves have settled and I’m getting into the zone. We are clipping lap after lap and the pack is starting to break apart early. I know I am running about 31:30 pace, and I’m in about 20-25th spot. Unlike some races I’ve been in, there is very little pushing and jostling. At one point, a British girl nicely asks me if I can move a bit to let her out, and I respond, “No problem!” Us Canadians are polite, eh?
I go through half way (5k) in 15:42. Wow this is fast. This is really fast. Diane makes a move at 6k and I attempt to go with her. But this move is too much for me, I can’t stay with her and after a few laps I’m starting to slow down. The pain is rushing in and I am beginning to struggle, but I am battling the negative thoughts and pushing through the pain.
I crossed the finish line and saw my time – 31:53. I was thrilled with that, considering the pain of the last 2 miles. But mostly I felt a huge sense of relief. I did it! And I ran well! I immediately turned around to see where Lanni was – she crossed the finish line only 13 seconds behind me. I gave her a big hug.
We walk through the zig zag of media. I stop to do several interviews, all I am thinking about is finding my mom and dad! The results are finally up on the big screen and I see I have placed 22nd. Not bad Tash, not bad at all! Finally I break out of the media zone and find my parents. My mom asks me how I’m feeling, and the tears start to flow. I tell her I’m so relieved I ran well. Being there in the Olympic stadium after my race with my parents was one of the best moments of my life.
Every obstacle I had to overcome, all of the hard work, sacrifices, injuries – it was all worth it to have been able to race at the Olympics. I will forever treasure this experience.
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