Women's Track and Field's crazy championship weekend
Senior national champion and All-American Michelle Carter had an amazing opportunity last weekend. The Texas Relays shot put champion won two of the oldest, largest and most respected track meets in the world -- the 113th Penn Relays Carnival in Philadelphia on Thursday, April 26 and the 99th Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday, April 28. Both events invited world-class athletes from all over the world to enter, and both events saw Carter walk away with victories and top three national marks in the shot put.
Hello Longhorns' fans!!!
I had one of the busiest weekends of my collegiate career last week. I competed and won both the Penn Relays in Philadelphia and the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa!!!
To give you an idea of how far the trip was -- the distance between Austin and Philadelphia is almost 1,700 miles. The distance between Philadelphia and Des Moines, Iowa is just over 1,000 miles. The mileage from Des Moines to Austin is almost 1,000 miles. That's almost 3,700 miles in a four-day span.
The reason I wanted to do this trip is that our team chose to compete at Drake because they will host a few big meets in the upcoming years, including the NCAA Midwest Region Championship at the end of the month. I have been to Penn twice and never won, and before I walked away from college athletics, I wanted to have a Penn Relays watch. My dad (Michael Carter) had success there and was even inducted into the Hall of Fame. I wanted the chance to do my best and since I knew I could win, I didn't want to settle for my two second-place finishes.
I mentioned it a while back to my event coach, Rose Brimmer, and just waited until she and Coach Bev made a decision.
Well, they said yes and my interesting journey started on Wednesday. Our travel party left campus at 11 a.m. for Austin Bergstrom International Airport. Our flight left around 1 p.m. and we landed well before 2 p.m. in Dallas. After a three and a half hour layover in Dallas, we arrived in Philadelphia at 10 p.m. with the time change. We got our luggage and headed to the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Philly.
I was so happy to be at the hotel after the first day of traveling. As soon as I got to my room, I actually did a light warm-up and then took an ice bath before heading to bed for the night.
Thursday morning, I woke up around 8:30 a.m. to get ready for my competition around noon. I left for the track shortly after that and grabbed some breakfast on the short drive to Franklin Field. I started warming up around 11 a.m. because the preliminaries started at noon. The weather was a little cool and there was no sun in sight. On top of all that, near competition time, it started to rain on and off.
The gloomy weather did not spoil the day. It was a great competition. I was also very, very happy to finally win at the PENN RELAYS! It's one of the best track meets in the world and after finishing second two years in a row, I didn't want to go home without one of the Penn Relays watches!
After I finished competing, I had no time to waste. I headed back to the hotel, quickly showered and changed and left for the airport.
This was where my trip started to get a little hectic.
We always travel with American Airlines so naturally that's the desk I went to for check-in. The woman behind the counter could not find my reservation so before I started worrying I called our team manager Rene to get my information. He told me that I was on Midwest Airlines so I quickly ran to that check-in. Again they couldn't find my reservation. So I called him back and he said try Delta.
I asked the woman behind the counter where Delta was and she answered, "Terminal E."
The part that made it really interesting was that I was in Terminal C!! I had an hour to catch the airport shuttle to Terminal C, check-in, go through security and make it to the gate.
Fortunately, I made it to the plane. When I got to my seat, I fell asleep waiting for takeoff. By the time I woke up, I was surprised because we were still on the runway in Philadelphia. The pilot came over the intercom to inform us that we were 30th in line for take off and he would try to get us to Louisville as soon as possible. We finally took off 45 minutes later.
When we landed, the pilot let us know that even though we were late we should make our connecting flights.
Unfortunately, I didn't. My flight for Des Moines left without me and my new Penn Relays watch. I ended up spending the night in a hotel in Kentucky. Thankfully, I still had a full day before I had to throw.
So on Friday morning, I got up at 6 a.m. to catch the hotel shuttle to the airport at 7 a.m. My flight left at 9 a.m. and I arrived in Des Moines around 10 a.m. (with the time change). I was so happy to finally make it to Iowa. After I left the airport, I checked into my third hotel in as many days, and went to grab a bite to eat. I made it to the track to watch my teammates compete. The weather was perfect and it felt great to be outside watching the competition.
Later on that day, we were invited to a parade for the athletes participating in the meet. The people there were extremely nice and very happy that Texas came to the meet this year. It's the first time in a long time that the UT women's team has been to Drake (at least since Coach Bev started coaching here).
When we left the parade, we stopped for dinner and then headed back to the hotel. I took another ice bath and shower before going to sleep. I had to be well rested because I had to get up early to throw the next day.
When I woke up on Saturday morning, I realized that it was finally time to compete again. The sooner I could get into the shot put circle, the sooner I could win another shot put title!
My alarm clock went off at 8:30 a.m. and I left the hotel for the track around 9:30 a.m. I checked in for the 11:30 a.m. start. The thing most memorable part of the competition was the crowd. They were great. Everyone seemed so involved in the competition, cheering for the throwers, and appreciating the high level of competition.
After I won (yay!!), I was extremely tired. The weekend was long but very exciting and rewarding. I was so grateful that I had the opportunity to compete at both events. It was definitely worth it.
Our Texas team left early on Sunday morning, arriving in Austin around 11 a.m. Before I headed back to my apartment, I went to church service. I came straight from the airport in jeans and a t-shirt to catch the morning service.
My life never stops!!!