This weekend I competed in my first ever heptathlon. A heptathlon is a track event that is comprised of seven events over two days: on the first day, the athletes compete in the hurdles, high jump, shot put, and 200 meter dash, and on the second day, the athletes compete in the long jump, the javelin, and the 800 meter run.
It had been a long road to get to this day, a road that had started in high school, when I had asked my then-coach if I could compete in the heptathlon. My high school coach is a wonderful coach; a lifelong trackie and incredibly kind. He also coached a large team and had to pick his battles. Therefore, his response was that I could not compete in the heptathlon, with the reason that I would be very weak in the throwing events. He was mostly right.
Flash forward two years, to the beginning of outdoor track season this year. My friend on the track team got her heart set on competing in the heptathlon. Personally, I think that she just wanted an excuse to try throwing the javelin. It was decided that I would be her training partner.
Over the course of the season, I learned how tough it can be to be a multi-event athlete. I would go to practice in the morning and do a running workout to train for the 200 and the 800. A few hours later, my legs still sore from their morning pounding, I would head to high jump practice, and pound my legs for another hour. After that, my legs would get a break, as I headed to the thrower’s lift to do a bench press workout.
The extra time was worth it when the first day of competition arrived. We started off our warm-ups in the balmy 70° weather and I was surprised when the athletes I would be competing against started chatting amiably to Reb and me about our warm-up. Over the course of the two days, I found that while trackies are overall nice people willing to exchange a “good luck” at the blocks and a “good job” at the finish, the multi-event community is even more friendly.
As is expected of a long day competing in the sun, there were ups and downs for both of us in the events. We were lucky to have two dedicated coaches beside us for the whole day, offering moral support, advice, and a well-timed Gatorade run. We were even luckier on the second day, when the rest of the team came to the meet to compete in the other events or to cheer. It was my third time ever long jumping in college that day, but with my team almost literally lining the runway, I was able to shatter my personal record beyond what I thought was possible.
By the end of the meet, both of us earned the opportunity to compete in the event one more time this season: at the Conference Championship meet in May. We also got some pretty nice tan lines (think: socks, watches, and singlets) and a free pass out of 7 am practice the next day.