The next two weeks between the Chile Pepper and Big12s things started to click. I could sense that my sessions were getting better, sill not great but a definite improvement from the previous ones. Plus like I previously mentioned, I started to feel a lot better on my daily runs. The point at which I finally realized that I was feeling much better and ready to race was the day before Big12s when I spiked up and ran a couple of strides. It was then when I said to Dave and Teran that I felt amazing, and believe me, there wouldn't have been a point so far into the season that I would have described myself to be feeling amazing. Luckily everything seemed to fall into place just in time for Big12s and the following day cemented my beliefs that I was feeling much better by equalling my best conference cross country result. The day could not have been topped off any better than with a dominating team performance, putting five guys in the top 8, consequently we beat the field and also took home our 5th consecutive Big12 title.
My girlfriend, Teran, can testify more than anyone that I was a different person after Big12s. I felt great on every run and my sessions were better than ever. Obviously it was quite hard for her to be around me as I must have been slightly stressed before conference. I will take the opportunity now to thank her for putting up with me! If you are asking why I was stressed; it was because this team means the world to me and I wanted to help them win another conference title and another national title. I didn't want to let my teammates down who had all worked so hard all summer and were in the best shape of their lives. I didn't want to miss out on the possibility of a history making season for the team, I wanted to show my orange pride by representing Oklahoma State, and to prove to everyone that we are a group of blue collar hard working guys who were not going to give up and throw the towel in after losing three multiple All-American's from the previous year. Thats the attitude of champions and what has been created by Dave Smith here at Oklahoma State.
From that point on the rest is history, it felt just like another cross country season for me. Helping the team win a conference title and do our job by qualifying for nationals (even if it was a close call!). Having such a bad injury this summer and a stressful start to the season, it really made me appreciate running every day and enjoying races more than ever. "Enjoy it" one of the last things I say to the guys as we are standing on the start line for each race. I think sometimes people lose sight of the reason why we beat our bodies up on a daily basis, it is because we love the sport. Therefore with this more prominent in my thoughts, I think it helped me stay a lot more relaxed going into nationals and consequently helped me execute the best cross country race of my career to date.
To top off a great individual performance at nationals for me was that once again like at Big12s we executed a great team race and won by 63points. Winning a team title is something I have experienced three times now (ran on two teams 10&12) here at Oklahoma State and each time it feels different, it doesn't feel the same as the others. The feeling is indescribable.
I have put links below to some articles/interviews after nationals and also some photos taken by Clay Billman.
Okstate.com - Champions
Okstate.com - Coach of the Year
Okstate.com - Q&A
|Pre-race huddle. Final Instructions|
|Shadrack (575) and I early in the race.|
|Let the celebrations begin! O....S....U!|
|The 7 who raced.|
(L-R: Fabian, Joe, Shadrack, myself, Kirubel, Shane, Girma)
|First time seeing Dave after the win!|
|Teran and I|
|Most of us have the "S" the right way round....|
|Both men's and women's teams. Go Pokes.|
|Myself, Clay, and Kirubel.|