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In her own words: Mary Cain describes her summer

Published by
DyeStat   Aug 30th 2013, 7:36pm

By Mary Cain

I can honestly say that the 2013 World Championship in Moscow was the greatest experience of my life. This year, I have been blessed to attend some pretty amazing competitions, such as the Millrose Games, the Pre Classic, the USA Track and Field Championships, and Sainsbury's Anniversary games in London.

Less than a year ago, I was trying to figure out what I would do this year. I didn't know what my seasons were going to look like; my parents and I were at such a loss, there was even talk of taking a year off from running!

Thankfully, Coach (Alberto) Salazar came along and changed my life. He was the first person to tell me that he believed I could make the World Championships in Russia. Back then, I just laughed at the idea.Mary Cain runs in the final of the 1,500 meters at the World Championships in Moscow

I don't think it hit me that I had actually qualified for the World Championships, until I walked through customs in Moscow. Once I got into baggage claim, there was a big sign (with the mascot on it) welcoming all the athletes. The ride from the airport to the hotel was rather long, so I got to take in the scenery of Moscow. During this trip, I realized how far away from home I really was. It was strange to see all of the advertisements written in Russia's Cyrillic script. After arrival at the hotel, my roommate, Jordan Hasay, and I got to explore a bit. Just as with my experience on the U.S. Junior Team, there was a USATF lounge for the athletes where we could hang out or pick up snacks. This room definitely came in handy, as I wasn't the biggest fan of the hotel's food.

Coming to Moscow, I was anxious and excited to start the competition. I had been training all summer for this event and the recent tapering was making me antsy to run.

Luckily for me, my event fell in the first half of the week so I didn't have to wait around too long. My first race fell on the second day of the competition, early in the morning.

Although that race didn't start until 10:30 a.m., I had to get up early to eat and then head over to the track. The day before, I had gotten to explore the warm-up tracks, so once I got there, I was prepared for business as usual.

The only difference between this competition and many I have been in before was that the athletes must report to the first call room 40 minutes before the event. From there, they are taken by bus to the second call room (in the stadium). It is only there that you are officially checked in. You are in this call room for quite a while, which I found made me rather antsy – any athlete knows that there are only so many drills and strides you can do!

What definitely helped, though, was that several other members of Team USA were there and they couldn't have been more supportive.

My first race didn't go as well as I had hoped. Although I advanced to the semifinals, my execution was all over the place. I thought that I had learned a lesson in London, but honestly, I guess not! Afterwards, my coaches and I sat down and we seriously studied the other races. I became a true student of the sport and I knew the only way to advance to Thursday night's final was to run a perfect race. I watched my video and those of my competitors to identify the best race strategy for the following day. This was really a big learning experience for me and I feel I took a lot away from it. By the time of my semifinal race, I knew exactly what I had to do and felt ready to executed the plan.

I was so thrilled to make the final! I had just run one of the best races of my life and I wanted to see what else I could do. The day of the final was, of course, nerve wrecking, but I handled it pretty well (for me). Maria Salazar, my coach's daughter and a good friend, hung out with me all day, and she really kept my mind off the race. I am so grateful to her for that.

The race itself went OK. I am so proud to be able to call myself a finalist and say I came in 10th in the world, but being a competitive person I am, I wanted better. I think that competitive drive is what helps fuel me to fast times. I run with a lot of passion. Although I was the youngest competitor, I never saw my age as an excuse. I worked my way to the starting line like everyone else. Of course, I recognize and am proud to remember that I was the youngest finalist ever in that event, so I do cut myself some slack.

The racing and intense competition made this trip great, but it was really the support I received from so many members of Team USA that made this trip special! Athletes from all over our country united to become a team in the course of the week. Sprinters, distance runners, throwers and jumpers all came together. We all wanted to see the Stars and Stripes waving over Luzhniki Stadium as many times as possible!

I am extremely grateful to all of the athletes, for everyone I met tried to share their experiences with me, knowing this was my first time on the world stage. Allyson Felix, Nick Symmonds and Bershawn Jackson are just a few examples that come to mind. My roommate, Jordan Hasay, and all the members of the Oregon Project, were so amazing! It was nice to have Jordan with me having been in a similar situation to me in high school.

Also, Matthew Centrowitz helped me accomplish one important goal. He gave me the mascot he won as he was leaving the podium. All I wanted going into the meet was a toy Rumpow and now I have one!

After closing out an exciting year of racing, I am just excited to be getting back into training. I need to work on my form this fall, so I'm already up and running (although with VERY low mileage and slow paces). I can't wait to get back on the track to show my stuff, but for now, I'm just enjoying what's left of my summer break!

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Nice exclusive, Doug!
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