My dream for a few years now has been to compete at the Division 1 NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, with the best of the best collegiate athletes. My fate would be decided in Greensboro, NC at the East Preliminary Division 1 NCAA Track and Field Championships, also known as Regionals. Only the top 48 times in each even make it to the NCAA east region meet. Going into this meet, I was ranked number 8 out of 48. From this meet, the top 12 go to Nationals in Eugene, OR. The steeplechase in Greensboro consisted of 3 heats with 16 girls in each heat. The top 3 in each heat plus the next 3 fastest times advance to the finals in Oregon two weeks later. I knew what I had to do going into the meet, and I needed to pull out a great race to be top 12.
I was in heat 1 of 3, with a race time of 8:50pm on Friday, May 24. We got lucky with 50 degree weather and only slight winds and low humidity. This was a huge relief because the previous evening, the humidity was over 80%, which is a distance runner’s enemy. I was ranked 3 in my heat out of the 16 girls, and my plan was to run a similar race to the Big 12 Championships, and that is exactly what I did… EXACTLY.
Unlike in Texas, this race went out much quicker, and no one was messing around. There was one girl in my heat that was a good 15 seconds faster than the rest of the field, and she took off from the gun, running the whole race solo. Therefore, it came down to a race for second and third, and I put myself right in it. I followed the pack, and when someone made I move, I was right there with them, giving myself the best opportunity possible to get in the top 3. With one lap to go, I was starting to feel fatigued, but I knew that I could not give up. There were 3 girls racing for spots 2 and 3, and Syracuse took off with 300 meters to go in the race. I was racing for third, and I passed Cornell with 250 meters to go, because I wanted to be first coming out of the water pit. I was having flashbacks of the race at Big 12. This was the same exact situation. I had a couple second lead on Cornell coming out of the water pit, and when I get to the last barrier with 50 meters to go, lactic acid takes over again. I could see her coming up on me, but there was nothing that I could do about it. I pushed all the way to the line, and I ended up 4th in my heat by 0.26 seconds. On the bright side, I ran a personal best time of 10:07.00, which is 4 seconds faster than my previous best, breaking the school record for the third time!
I did not get top three, so I was hoping that my time would be fast enough to be one of the next 3 fastest times. I had to wait, and wait, watching the second and third heat, praying that the 4, 5, and 6 girls in the other heats did not run faster than 10:07. As heat number 2 finished, I was relieved to see that I still had the fastest non-auto time, one heat to go. I sat there thinking how close I was to achieving my dream, and it all depended on how 16 other girls ran. As the race progressed, my nerves built up. As heat 3 finished, the times were popping up on the board, and as number 4 came up as 10:11, it finally sunk in. I was the first non-auto time to qualify. I had done it, coming in 8th overall in the region. As soon as my spot was confirmed, my emotions were uncontrollable. Tears of joy streamed down my face as my teammates congratulated me. I walked around the stadium in search of my parents and sister, who came to watch me. I was overwhelmed with happiness. This is NOT the end!
I can honestly say that that was one of the best feelings that I have ever had in life. I worked so hard to achieve a goal that, at one point, seemed impossible. Hard work, dedication, and patience led me to where I am today in running. I am now headed to Eugene, Oregon next week to compete at the NCAA Division 1 Championships. As my favorite quote states, “If you believe in it, you can achieve it.”
As a distance runner, I am in season from August to May or June, making for a long training term. Nonetheless, that time of year has finally come: outdoor track championship season. As most of you probably know, WVU is now in the Big 12, which in running, is completely different that the Big East. There are only 10 teams, making for a much smaller conference meet. Our destination this year was Waco, Texas at Baylor University. I was expecting hot HOT weather, and for a distance runner, that is pretty much like the plague. We arrived Thursday in Dallas, and we took a bus the rest of the way to Waco. I had a few days to adjust to the Texas weather because I did not race until Sunday afternoon.
We started off on Friday evening with the 10k, and the weather was absolutely perfect, which gave me hope for Sunday. Saturday was pre-race day, and it was warm, but not unbearable. Since our race was at 4:20pm, I was worried about the wind and the heat, but come Sunday, the high was only 72 degrees. Coming into this meet, I was ranked third in the steeplechase, with only a 6 second margin between the top three; therefore, I knew that I had a very good shot at taking the win.
I woke up Sunday morning feeling fresh, and I went for my 15 minute shakeout run around 10:00am. I was feeling nervous, yet confident. My parents flew out to watch me, as always, so I was comforted knowing that they were there to cheer for me every step of the way. At 4:20pm, I toed the line with three of my other teammates, all of which could potentially score. The top 8 individuals in each event score points: 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 points to 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.
My race plan was to go out with the leaders, and just go with anyone who made a move. The first 2 laps went out very slow, and on the third, a Kansas State girl took the lead. Only an Oklahoma State runner and I went with her, leaving it to a three-person race for the win. With 3 laps to go, Oklahoma State drops, and it is just me following Kansas State. As we ran up the backstretch on lap 6, a pole vault pole fell onto the track, and we both had to hurdle the pole, as if we didn’t have enough things to hurdle already! As we neared the bell lap, I was still right on her toes. With 250 meters to go, I decided that I wanted to be the first one into the last water pit, because I knew that she has more raw speed than I do. I had 2 meters on her coming out of the water pit, with only 100 meters left in the race. I could see the win right there in front of me. As I hurdled the last barrier 50 meters from the finish, my legs were filled with lactic acid, and I was giving it everything I had. Kansas State beat me by 0.24 seconds, coming down to the very last step (pictured above is how close the finish was). Although I did not win, I ran a personal best time of 10:11.06, breaking my previous school record of 10:17.58. In addition, ALL of my teammates and I were top 8, meaning we ALL scored! WVU went 2, 5, 7, 8, scoring a total of 15 points for our team at the Big 12 Championships.
I could not have been more proud of my teammates that day. All 4 of us are originally from West Virginia, which made the accomplishment even more special. I can honestly say that I was more than proud to be a mountaineer that day! Getting second in a championship race by such a small margin is going to give me that extra drive that I need to push me through my next race. I am determined to make it to Eugene! Next stop: East Preliminary NCAA Division 1 Track and Field Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Palo Alto, California for the Stanford Invitational. This is one of the largest distance running meets of the year filled with athletes trying to get their qualifiers for the NCAA Regional meet in May. I came in with this very same goal. This track is like no other. When the sun goes down on Friday night at Stanford, the temperature is always in the 50’s, which is perfect for distance running, and the trees rest still, as the wind is nonexistent.
I toed the line around 5:30 pm for the second of three heats of the 3,000 meter steeplechase. Nerves were heightened as the starter shouts, “on your marks.” We were then called to come up because one athlete jumped before the gun. We back up and shake out our legs, waiting to be called back to the line. For the second time, the starter says, “on your marks… set,” and then we accelerate off the start line as we hear the gun sound.
I immediately go to the inside, in the middle/back of the pack. There are no barriers to hurdle for the first 200 meters, so the race went out a little faster. As I approach the first barrier, I try to give myself some space because of all the other girls clustered around me. After 2 more barriers, the water pit awaits. I was not able to practice any water jumps since last May because of the poor track facilities at WVU, so I was a little nervous for the first water jump. As I step onto the barrier, I land in the water a bit flat-footed, but I make a smooth recovery and accelerate out of the pit. As the race unfolds, I slowly move my way up through the pack. Before you know it, I only have 2 laps left, and I am in 5th place. I start to feel the pain in my legs, but I continue to push. I manage to go over all of the barriers with ease, and I improve in the water pit each lap. The bell lap arrives, and I start my kick. As I come out of the last water jump, I pick up speed for the final 100 meters.
I reach the finish line in 7th place with a time of 10:17.45, a personal best by 11 seconds. I was beyond excited to see the final outcome of the race. I managed to get my NCAA Regional qualifying time, break the WVU school record, rank in the top 15 in the country, and rank number 2 in the big 12. Being an elite distance runner and ranking among the top in the nation has never felt more real to me.
Two weekends later I competed in the George Mason Spring Invitational in Fairfax, Virginia. To sharpen up my speed a little, I ran the 1500 meter run, which is just 109 meters short of a full mile. This is by no means my event, but grinding out a fast race is good for training purposes. You feel a completely different kind of pain in this race because it is so much faster; however, there are no barriers to jump over or water to jump into in this one! I managed to run a personal best time of 4:35.4, getting me a 4th place finish in my heat. One step closer to my ultimate goal in the steeplechase!
My next race is going to be on Thursday, April 25 at the Penn Relays. If you have ever heard of any track meet, this is the most likely one. Thousands and thousands of people come from all over the world to race and watch the meet, and this will be my first time competing at the Penn Relays. I look forward to the challenges that await me as head into the final races of my career as a WVU athlete!
Well, now that indoor track season has come to an end, we don’t waste any time jumping into the outdoor season! Our first outdoor track meet was this past weekend at Wake Forest; however, I will not be competing for a few more weeks. Going over a month without racing can leave you in between worlds. Often times, this break can make it hard to stay focused and motivated. Although I am still doing workouts twice a week and swimming and running every day, the absence of competition makes it difficult to gauge my current level of fitness. Racing kind of shows you where you really are fitness-wise and what aspects of training you can improve upon. So, the question is, how do you overcome this mind block?
One important step that you can take to overcome the mental challenges of exercising is to set goals. Now, you must set small, attainable goals to begin with, such as walk 15 minutes every day. In my case, these goals include doing my pull-ups and core exercises daily. After the “stepping stone” goals are set, try and work toward a goal that will let you know where you are and how much you have improved, such as to run a local road 5k. Lastly, there should be a goal that is the ultimate dream. This goal may be something that you never quite achieve, but it is there to motivate you, and one day, it may come true if you work hard enough.
One thing that always gets me super pumped about running is reading the success stories of other distance runners. In some cases, this allows me to see where someone else started from, the barriers that they had to overcome, and what they were able to accomplish. I watched the Division 1 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships two weekends ago, and one of my teammates placed 7th in the mile as a red-shirt freshman, earning All-American Honors. The progress that she has made over the last year is truly inspiring, and it motivates me to become a better athlete!
Grab a Buddy
When forced to exercise alone week after week, it can really start to wear on you. I recommend finding someone that has similar goals and interests and working together to achieve those goals. I am fortunate enough to have a team full of girls who share my passion for running. We all work together with pacing workouts and keeping everyone as motivated as possible during the “breaks” between seasons. If you make plans to meet someone for a run in the morning before work, it holds you accountable, and you are more likely to complete your exercising for the day. Just having someone to talk to makes exercising so much more enjoyable and it makes the time pass by much quicker!
I really feel that getting out and running, swimming, biking, etc., makes you feel much better about yourself, and once you find a mode of exercise that you enjoy, it can become quite addicting! So let’s set goals, work together, and become inspired to find satisfaction in being active.
This past weekend was the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships in Ames, Iowa. To start the journey, 20 athletes on the WVU Track and Field team left town Wednesday morning on a charter bus to go to the Pittsburgh airport. This day was designated for traveling, and we arrived in Ames at about 5:30pm. Because I swam in the morning, I still had to run when we got to our hotel in Iowa, so I set out on a nice 30 minute run, and I felt surprisingly good after a long day of traveling.
Around 9:30pm, we got a text update from our coach stating that the Big 12 Championships were going to be delayed a day because one of the teams was stuck in a snow storm. If the meet was kept as scheduled on Friday and Saturday, this team would have missed the entire meet. Fortunately, all of the athletic directors from the Big 12 schools voted to change the meet to Saturday and Sunday so that the snowed in team could still compete in the meet. Our first thought: SNOW DAY!
We had dinner as a team, and my parents arrived during dinner to say hello. They drove 890 miles, approximately 14 hours, to see me race. I must say that I have the most dedicated and supportive parents. They love to come watch me run, and they would drive or fly almost anywhere to do just that. I absolutely love having my parents there to cheer me on, and I was very excited to see them!
Saturday I woke up, and it was finally race day! However, my race was not until 7:50pm, essentially an entire day of waiting ahead of me. I worked on crosswords, watched numerous episodes of “Friends” and “King of Queens”, and I thought about the 5k race I was about to run. Nineteen girls were on the 5k start list to compete that evening. When we approached the starting line, the meet officials informed us that if any of us were to get lapped, we would be pulled out of the race. This added more stress and heightened my nerves, but I stayed confident. I knew that the front of the race was going to be at a faster pace than I was able to hold, so I was hoping for a nice pack to run with that was going a speed at in which I wanted to run. The race could not have played out more perfect.
We went through the mile in approximately 5:20. I was feeling really good, so anytime that someone made a move to go around the pack leader, I made sure to go with them. We came through 2 miles in 10:46, and I still felt comfortable with the pace. I heard my coach yell, “You can run 16:40s!” When I heard this, I was determined to finish the race strong, and achieve my goal.
With 1 and a half laps left, I decided that it was time to start picking it up and I broke away from the pack that I was running with. I knew that I had to run my last lap in 59 seconds to be under 16:50, so I dropped my arms and ran as hard as I could to the finish line.
When I reached the line, I immediately looked back at the score board, waiting, and waiting. I saw my name pop up on the screen, “Jordan Hamric, 16:46.82”. I was so happy, and I could barely contain myself! I broke my previous best time by 23 seconds, and I finally made a huge breakthrough. I ran over to my parents and gave each of them a big hug. I was so glad that I performed exceptionally well for them, considering how far they drove to see me!
After my race, I watched the WVU distance medley relay team place third in the event, and then we all went to Chipotle for dinner! Our team had a rather successful day, including many impressive performances.
On Sunday morning, the girls that were finished competing, about half of the team, traveled home as originally scheduled, while the other girls that still had to compete stayed in Iowa. I was bummed that I did not get to see my teammates run, jump, and throw on Sunday, but I was still cheering from afar!
Overall, the trip was a success, and I enjoyed my first indoor track championships in the Big 12. All I have to say is that hard work pays off. This does not just apply to athletics. If you have a goal, whether it is to lose 10 pounds, run a mile, or get an A on a test, as long as you put in the effort and time necessary, you can achieve that goal. There is no better feeling than to know you earned or accomplished something because of the work and dedication YOU put into it. Never give up, and dream big!
The workout process takes a few hours to complete from start to finish. I arrive at the track about an hour before the workout is set to begin. About 45-50 minutes until go time, my teammates and I go for a 15 minute warm up run. When I get back, I do both static and dynamic stretching for 15 minutes, and then I start my pre-race/workout drills. These “drills” consist of different skips, high knees, and toe touches. My final preparation consists of doing 2-4 good strides, which is just a hard run for about 50 meters. Then its time to hit the track!
After the workout, I go on a 15 minute cool down run. When I return, I go to the training room to get a dreaded ice bath. These ice baths are usually between 48-58 degrees Fahrenheit. The worst part is just getting in. At first, you can feel the pain of the cold water, but after about 2 minutes, the uncomfortable sensations subside. You may be thinking, “Why do you get into a bath filled with ice water after a workout?” Well, ice baths help your body to recover faster, but they are most effective if you get them consistently. To make these a little more enjoyable, I always drink my recovery shake in the ice bath to take my mind off of the cold water. After the ice bath, the workout process is finished!
Because my Mondays are so busy, I like to plan ahead for my meal that night. Here is an example of a quick, easy, healthy dinner that you can make when you know you will have a busy day.
You will not feel tempted to eat unhealthy if you supply yourself with healthy ingredients. Next time you go to the grocery store, try to stick to the outside of the store for most of your shopping, because this is where you find all of the fresh ingredients like vegetables, fruit, and the deli. Think healthy, eat healthy, and be healthy!
Before this cross training bout began, I did not know how to swim laps in a lap pool, so, when I first started, I probably looked like a cat trying to stay above water. Fortunately, many of my teammates are skilled swimmers, and I was quickly able to learn proper form and breathing techniques. My arms were sore for two weeks straight, but I was instantly hooked on this new form of training. Now, any other time in the past that I took time off from running, I struggled to get back into the swing of things, and the workouts and my fitness levels were slow to come. This time, I came back stronger than I have ever been before. Swimming gave me this awesome feeling of accomplishment, and I loved getting in a different kind of cardio workout.
Because I enjoyed this activity so much, my coach and I decided that I would continue to swim as a supplement to my training when I was able to run again. I felt that the controlled breathing required for swimming helped me with my running workouts. For the past month and a half, I have been swimming in the morning and running in the evening, and I love doing it!
To stay motivated, I have even set goals for myself in the pool. My first goal was to swim a mile straight through. On the day before New Years Eve, I did this! I swam a mile (approximately 35 up and backs in the WVU Recreation Center pool) in 30 minutes and 50 seconds; therefore, my next goal was to break 30 minutes for a mile. Last Wednesday, I was able to do just that. I swam a mile in 29 minutes and 49 seconds. Hard work definitely pays off!
I never thought that I would enjoy swimming as much as I do, but I have grown to love the water. Sometimes it is nice to switch it up instead of doing the same form of exercise every day. I challenge you to try out a new type of exercise this week, whether it is swimming, running, yoga, zumba, or even hiking. You never know until you try!
I would have to say that my number one hobby outside of running is cooking! When I was younger, I always liked to help my mom out in the kitchen. Now, living on my own in Morgantown, I still enjoy spending time making my own meals and sharing my creations with others. As a collegiate athlete, I pay attention to the kinds of foods that I put into my body. This is not to say that I never eat ice cream or a cookie, but I just make sure that I consume in moderation.
On a typical day, Monday through Friday, I am fairly consistent with my diet. Here are some examples of foods that I eat for different meals:
After dinner, I usually want something to satisfy my sweet tooth. Many times, a piece of dark chocolate will do the trick; however, I also like to snack on cocoa dusted almonds occasionally. Nuts fill me up quickly and they taste great! With graham crackers, I like to mix fat free whip cream and a little bit of peanut butter and place between two graham crackers. Then I put them in the freezer until the center hardens, and it tastes like an ice cream sandwich without all of the unnecessary fat content! Last on the list are protein balls. This is something that I like to eat after a workout to refuel my body, but, to me, they taste like a dessert!
Directions: Mix all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Let chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Form mixture into 1-1.5 inch balls. Enjoy! This recipe can be fun for children because they can measure, stir, and form the final product and no oven use is necessary. These are tasty, simple, and provide a healthy source of energy for anyone.
I look forward to reading comments and posting more about my life as a student athlete.