Going into USA’s I was confident coming off of my 1500 but still nervous. Although I had run faster than the guys in the field, I knew how good of competitors they all are. There were some new faces in the final that I had never raced before and I knew the shape that my teammates Dan (Huling) and Andy (Bayer) were in. I knew that I couldn’t be overly confident or cocky going into the race because that is when poor performances happen.
Against my better judgment, I allowed Jerry and Pascal (my coaches) to give me a pre race talk just before bed the night before the final. Of course, just as I thought it would, that kept my mind racing until about 3am when I was finally able to fall asleep. The little amount of sleep that I got only added to the nerves that I already had over the weekend. Dan, Andy and I all had our own race plans going into the race and thankfully the race played out how I had hoped.
Cory Leslie took the race out at an honest pace for the first four laps of the race until I took over the lead just before three laps to go. My goal was to continuously squeeze the pace down over the last three laps. After throwing in a 62 second penultimate lap, I was nervous and surprised seeing three or four guys still within striking distance of me. I just tried to keep the pedal down over the last lap and save something for the homestretch in case one of the guys had gotten back up on my shoulder.
I was happy and relieved to cross that finish line first for the fourth consecutive year. I feel there is some pressure to keep the streak going, but I love that. The idea of continuing a streak like that at the U.S. Champs makes such an important meet even more exciting and I want to keep it going as long as I can. This year’s steeple title was definitely the hardest one to win. Donn and Dan finishing as close as they did to me definitely kept the pressure on me over the last three laps and I think it says a lot about where the U.S. steeple field is at right now, as well as where I think it is going!
I am excited and optimistic about the rest of my season and it starts with the Paris Diamond League steeplechase tonight. Here We Go!