I think I've written about this a million times. If you can ever pick a defining moment this has to be it for me.
My last blog covered the outdoor part of 2006 and now I'm going to jump into the indoor part. A few blogs ago i wrote about 2004 where I had a lot of trouble falling.. That would not compare to 2006 in any way, shape, or form. The first race of the season was always in Greensboro, NC during thanksgiving for me. Let me give you a little idea of the season. 500m semi I was sitting in a poor, 4th place. Waiting for my opening knowing I was fast enough to move up, just skating behind someone a little awkward.. I fall down with 1 lap to go. Too bad. 1500m I don't remember if it was a semi or the final. I was in the lead four laps in and I fall down.. Get up quickly.. catch all the way back up to the pack work my way to second place.. and fall down with 2 laps to go. 2 races.. three falls. This was my season in 2006. Falling.. falling and more falling. Not at practice too much, just racing.
We worked watched video and tried to figure out what was happening. Not sure, we made the decision that I was going to stop pushing in the straights. The reason was because I took long steps in the straight trying to get as much out of it as possible and because I did that my left straight would end just barely before the turn so I would go from moving slightly right to jumping on my left edges and the quick position change was just too much. Even after making this change I was still falling a lot but we kept at it hoping it would just take a little time. The other thing was in 2006 I grew to the height I am now, which I thought would work to my advantage being a little bigger.. little did I know everyone else got bigger too.
Around President's Day, The Philly Challenge my luck slowly started turning. I got 2nd at the biggest meet of the year without falling down. I think I won regionals that year too also without falling down. Then Outdoor Nationals happened. After that I just kept hearing about how much fun everyone was going to have at worlds and how hard they were training for residency and worlds. Hearing that made me want to win indoor nationals more than anything.
One Wednesday night I remember we had just finished practice it was late. Everyone was gone I'm sure my brother and mother/father were lingering around. It's probably 10:30 and it's just Jeff and I, I don't remember how the conversation started but I remember him telling me that I might have to settle for 2nd or 3rd in a race because if I fall trying to get to the front then I get nothing. I don't even know that I let him finish talking before I said I don't want second or third, I want to win. I remember he said I want you to win too, but there are three races. I feel like I could end the story there, that moment sticks out to me more than the races that followed.
The first race at indoor nationals is the middle distance, which was the 1000m for me. In the final I won the start and was in the front but not going that fast. I remember the whole pack almost passed me in the same straightaway. Then I was in last place with four laps to go just looking for somewhere to go. In two and a half laps I found myself in second place, having passed one person each straightaway. At this point Jake Powers was out in front a little ways but I gave chase. We finished 1, 2.
Next was the 500, naturally I thought I could take the overall lead after the 5. I broke Will Bowen's Sophomore 500m record in the semi but barely. In the final I took second off the line, waited to really set my pass up and went to the front after one lap. After another lap second and third fell giving Jake a clear path to chase me. The finish was much like the 1000m but swapped and I lowered the record again.
Heading into the final for the 1500m Jake and I were tied for the lead and we were taking 1,2 overall no matter what. Obviously we joked about how we each won one race again this year, only this time we weren't getting worse than second overall. The 1500m record that year got slaughtered by us. I think we broke it in like 3 heats, 1 semi, and then the final too. In the final I pretty much just wanted to stay out of trouble and beat Jake, so I could win overall. I remember being in the front and then with maybe 7 laps to go Kimani Griffin passed me and picked up the pace. With four to go I noticed we were alone.. really alone like a straightaways length ahead of third. At that point I knew I just had to settle in and as long as the pace didn't die down I would win overall.
And that was my first overall indoor title for division. I think it brought closure for me after barely missing the 2006 Jr. World Team.