Just one more season left in my collegiate career. Just one. Where did the time go? I even had a 5th year and it still went by so fast!
Yesterday was the start of our outdoor season at American International College’s Yellowjacket Invitational. Before coming into this meet, I had a very emotional week. I had a long list of things I was upset about: not succeeding in my transition to a 6 step approach, stressed from looking ahead of all the assignments crammed into only 3 more weeks of classes, and still trying to figure out what the hell I’m going to do after I graduate. I was losing sleep. I was unable to clear my head for practices and unable to perform even the smallest of tasks–I was just flat out exhausted. I wasn’t even motivated to do my night-before-a-meet routine–something I always look forward to. Because of that, I had no idea how this meet was going to go.
This meet was also different because I wasn’t just pole vaulting. I was running in the 100m dash for the first time since my senior year of high school.
Men’s vault was first, so I sat around for a while with the other vaulters. I was kind of out of it. I didn’t feel like myself at all. I usually abide by Coach Jackson’s rule for no phones or having phones off while we were at the meet, but I heard my phone ring. I had gotten a text and snuck a look in my bag. It was one of my closest friends and former UMass vaulter Lindsey Pfau. After she graduated last year, she moved down to Tallahassee for grad school.
“When are you jumping?”
“Soon,” I shot a text back, “Men went first.” Then I shut my phone off and zipped my bag shut to try and focus.
The men’s vault was finishing up when I looked up past the track and saw a tiny little blond girl waving.
“Wait…” I heard behind me, “Isn’t that…?”
“Oh my god. It’s Lindsey!”
I shot right up and wanted to run across the runway and track to see her–but instead we had to wait for a race to run by, wait for a vaulter to jump, and then we were finally together jumping and hugging. I started crying. It was such a great surprise!
The women’s vault started and I passed to come in at 10’6″. I had to run the 100m dash first. I was heat 5, lane 5. It was the last heat of the race. Since I hadn’t run that race since 2007, I guess they didn’t really know where to put me. It was myself and two other girls. To give you an idea of the level of competition I was up against: the official had to ask one of the other competitors to “please put your hands behind the starting line.” I had to work so hard to hold in my laughter and stay in the blocks. I finished the race almost a full 2 seconds faster. That race had all my friends and family cracking up. I had heard I ran like a vaulter that lost her way–and her pole.
It was finally time to vault and I was the last competitor when I came in at 10’6″. Running the 100m screwed up my run a bit and it was all off. Take off’s were sloppy. I wasn’t moving my top hand at all. I won the meet with 11′ (okay, 10’11.75″). On my last attempt at 11’6″, I looked over to Coach Jackson across the track and we both threw up our hands, “Eh, next time.”
It was nice to walk away with a win even if I wasn’t thrilled with the height, but I didn’t care about results from that meet. Competing outside in the sunshine, my return to sprinting after about 5 years, Lindsey’s surprise appearance, and other encouraging words from teammates and other alumni after the meet, I was reminded of something much more important. Springtime is supposed to be fun. Outdoor track comes at a wonderful time of year with celebrations, banquets, and other exciting moments to close out the school year. I shouldn’t let my worries overshadow the fun stuff that comes along with being a senior and graduating.
These are my last few moments at UMass and being in a UMass uniform. I’m never going to get this back. I look at my friends and teammates that graduated last year and could have sworn it was just yesterday that they were here doing all of this. Now it’s my turn. I’m thankful that they’ve taken the time to reach out to me during the most stressful–but wonderful–time in my life so far because they know exactly how it feels. They’ve reminded me that everything I’m worrying about now is going to work out eventually. I just need to live in the moment a little more instead.