I got picked up at the airport by Terry O’Rourke, whose daughter, Derval, won a gold medal for Ireland in the 60m hurdles at the 2006 Indoor World Championships. He was volunteering his time to drive in circles between the athlete dorms and the airport all day. All the athletes were housed in dorm rooms which were empty for the summer. I had my own room, but I shared a common space with Riley Masters and Ford Palmer.
We were given three meals a day at a restaurant a few steps out our front door. At the first meal we were served three types of potato: steamed, fried, and mashed, along with some meat and more root veggies.
I was lounging around on the first floor with many of the other athletes, trying to get some wifi in the one room with internet, when one of the meet volunteers told us a bus was leaving in five minutes to visit downtown Cork. I went to my room to put on some shoes, grabbed my wallet, and ran out to meet the bus. I got on with two high jumpers, Garrett Huyler and Donte Nall, a long jumper, Norris Frederick, an Irish woman, Kathleen, and her daughter, Queva. On the bus I was told we were going to walk through the English Market and have a meet and greet session with the Lord Mayor of Cork. I was not in my best form with my Chacos, sweatpants, and greasy hair, but it was too late to change.
The English Market was similar to an indoor farmers market. We met the local seafood vendor who is infamous for making the Queen laugh when he tried to sell her fish. Apparently the Queen is notorious for her stoicism, but his raillery helped lighten the mood.
We then walked to city hall to say hello to the Lord Mayor. Kathleen informed us the Lord Mayorship is more of an honorary position than anything else, and each of the five parties takes turns having the post for its one year term. The Lord Mayor was very friendly and patient while we took numerous pictures with him. He said he would be cheering us on at the track meet the following day.
We ate at least two types of potatoes with every meal.
I ran the 3k race with a deep field of mostly American athletes. Abby D’Agonstino won the race 8:58, and I set a PR of 9:12.49. The weather was windy and chilly, but it felt great to me, especially after competing in soaring temperatures in Eugene and Nashville.
About 15 athletes were going to Letterkenny, Ireland to race after Cork. The meet organizer had told us they would send a bus down to pick us up from Cork, but yesterday they emailed us to say we should catch the public bus to Dublin, and they would pick us up from there. This was a pretty stressful proposition for us Americans and South Africans. We could no longer reserve tickets since it was less than 24 hours before the bus left, and we didn’t know if there would be enough seats on the bus. Also, the Cork meet organizers suddenly had the responsibility of transporting another bunch of athletes into the canter of Cork. As we stood anxiously in line for the bus to Dublin, it didn’t look like thert would be enough room for us, but thankfully they wre able to drive a second public bus at the same time as the first, and we were all able to get on.
Between the bus ride to Dublin and the bus ride to Letterkenny, we rode for about eight hours. The Irish countryside was beautiful; happy sheep and cows munched on green grass all along the route. When we arrived, we were shown to apartments similar to the ones we had in Cork. Danny McDaid, a two-time Irish Olympian brought us to a restaurant inside an arcade that was surprisingly tasty and unsurprisingly featured potatoes.
I walked in to the small city center of Letterkenny with the other Americans, and Michelle Finn, an Irish steepler who had trained with Team Rogue for a year after she was done with college. We found the Catholic Church, a used bookstore, and had lunch at a little diner.
I ran the World A Standard!! I went 9:40.99 to win the race. The standard is good for a year, so I have run the time I need to go to the Olympics. But, I also have to get top 3 at the US Olympic Trials in July of 2016 to go.
The race was very low-key. We ran on a track with no stands, slippery barriers, and the officials tried to put all the barriers on the track before the start of the steeple (we run the first 200m without barriers, so officials have to put 2 barriers on the track after the race has started). But, the weather was cool, the train hadn’t started yet, we had a pacer going through the 2k at 9:40 pace, and we had a deep field of athletes.
I hung on the back of the front pack for the first few laps because I wasn’t sure how well I would do at 9:40 pace since my fastest time so far this season had been 9:54. I felt tired, but in control after three laps, so I slowly started to pass people as they fell off the front pack. With two laps to go, I put on a surge and took the lead. I got passed by a couple of Irishwomen. With 150m to go, we jumped the last water barrier at the same time. I landed first and sprinted to the finish. Three other women in the race, all Irish ran big PR’s to get the Olympic A standard, and two of them hit the World A standard for this year. Since Ireland doesn’t have many people who hit the World A Standard, they will go to the World Championship this summer in Beijing.
We had another stressful travel situation trying to get to the airport. Three of us had flights out of the Derry airport, and we were told we would get a ride at 6:30am. I happened to check my email right before I went to sleep last night and saw our pickup time had changed to 6:00 because a fourth person, with an earlier flight, was added to our car. Unsurprisingly, the other two people didn’t see the email and weren’t ready until 6:20. The driver drove like a NASCAR racer through the tight turns of the single lane road to the airport, and we all made our flights on time.