Editor's Note: Senior sprinter Natalie Pearson has qualfied for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships for the second straight year. Natalie will be filing a blog each day about her experience. Thursday was race day.
So race day came and went! It wasn't the best possible outcome I dreamed of, but all in all I am so proud I made it this far and represented UNC Asheville on a national level for the second straight year. Here is how the day went...
I woke up early for breakfast and to get myself going for race day. We had a pretty chilly morning so I didn't wear myself out. I shook out at 10.30 a.m. and felt good, but then I realized the weather was changing. It was mid-morning and all the cars had their lights on and the sky looked like it was about to fall in! And sure enough, when Jesse and I went to get lunch, it did! Thunder, lightning and torrential rain! It was so bad they had to delay the start of day 2 of the decathlon and day 1 of the heptathlon and at one point it looked like the rest of the events, including my race, were going to be delayed. Luckily the rain cleared up and the sun tried hard to come out! So all was go-go with the race!
We got to the track around 3.30 p.m., two hours early so I could check in and get settled before I had to warm up. It was when I checked in and saw I was in a heat with some SUPER fast girls that the nerves started to kick in big time! I think for my entire warm up I may have said five words tops as I thought if I opened my mouth I would get sick. But the warm-up went well and I was feeling super confident and real loose and ready to go. Regardless of how confident I was however, warming up with the powerhouse schools and their teams of 25 people is tough. All around me, I had the sprinters from LSU, Texas A&M, Florida State and University of Connecticut warming up too, something I am definitely NOT used to.
As for my race, I was in the last heat and the inner most lane, normally something I like as I like to chase people right from the start. I don't think I ran bad, I guess it just wasn't my day today! In the morning when I was thinking about how I was going to do, I thought I would have been really disappointed not running a PR or getting close to making finals. But, when I crossed the line and realized how strong the competition was and how far I'd come from my surgery at the very end of September, I was just really proud. After all, coming 24th in the entire Nation isn't bad! I can proudly say I have finished my college career highlighted by being conference champion in the 60 meters, 100 meters and 200 meters, setting the Big South outdoor 200m record, being the Big South Female athlete of the year and being a National qualifier for two straight years, all things I'll never forget. I'll also use my experiences against such awesome competition in shaping my post-college career that begins at the UK Nationals in July of this year. I also hope that what I've done at UNC Asheville serves an example for all the other wonderful Bulldogs we have at our school to prove that, even though we are a small University that doesn't have an enormous athletic department, we can still make it and be competitive on a National scale! I'll miss being a Bulldog and I'm so happy I got the chance to be one!