Emily Sisson, Parkway Central MO, led the USA Junior women to a 6th place team finish. Emily was 18th overall in the race with a time of 20:08. Scroll down for Emily's blog of her experiences, the people she met, and - oh yeah - the running and racing in Poland!
All Photos by: © Mike Scott http://miscottrunningphoto.shutterfly.com/ 2010.
March 22 - Today was a long day with lots of traveling! I woke up early at around 6 to wish my sister Annika a happy 14th birthday, and see my three younger sisters off to school—today was their first day back after spring break. After going on a 60 minute run, my mom dropped me off at the St. Louis airport. I flew to Washington-Dulles where I met up with Shelby (Greany) and Coach Robert Chapman (the Junior Men’s coach). Our flight was delayed an hour due to weather, but eventually we took off heading to Munich (Germany). I feel that it is always harder flying out east versus coming back because of the time change. Right after the plane took off at around 6 or so, we all tried to get sleep without much avail.
March 23 - We arrived in Munich at around 7 in the morning their time, but it felt like 1 in the morning our time! Shelby and I entertained ourselves on our 3 hour layover by walking around the airport before meeting up with fellow junior teammates Juliet (Bottorff), Emily (Jones), Sophia (Ziemian), Mike (Lynch), and Andrew (Kimpel). We flew into Gdansk, Poland and took a three and a half hour bus drive to Bydgoszcz. After over 24 hours of traveling, it felt so good to finally be there! Today was also pretty uneventful, however probably the highlight of the day was going on my 30 minute run with Shelby and Shalane Flanagan along the Brda River. Shalane was so nice and friendly to talk to. I was definitely intimidated to talk to her at first, but after a while I really just felt like I was talking to any other person! On top of getting to run with one of the best female distance runners in the world, the Brda River was absolutely beautiful!
March 24 - I woke up early to start my run with Shelby and Emily along the Brda River again. My workout was a bit different from their run, since I had my fartlek workout today. I got separated a bit from them by the end of it, and ended up doing my cool down with Mike. On our cool down, though, we got a bit turned around. Normally, this wouldn’t be such a big deal if it weren’t for the fact that everyone around us only spoke Polish! After not too long we found our way back to the hotel. Later, all of the juniors went to a nearby mall and walked along the river. We quickly realized that this small Polish city was not really a tourist hot spot, and therefore very few people spoke English. Also, something I learned today from Laura: in Poland very few people smile. We ended off the day with some pretty intense card games in the hallway.
March 25 - Breakfast this morning was great. Not only was the food good but I got to eat it with Magdalena Lewy Boulet and Renee Baille. Like Shalane, they were extremely friendly and nice. They gave some great advice, and I really enjoyed talking with them! Magda even taught us how to say, “Do you speak English?” which I will not even attempt to write, since I most likely could not come close to spelling it correctly. Today was my day off from running, so I jumped on the hotel’s elliptical for 40 minutes. All of us went back to the mall again mainly to buy food, and then Emily, Laura, Andrew, Andy, and I went to this small square called Old Town. There were a bunch of little shops, and walking through all of these old streets. I felt like we really got to experience life in Bydgoszcz! Finishing off the night, all of the juniors met in one of the hotel rooms to watch Harry Potter—a series most of us love! The thing about our hotel, though, is that the rooms are very small. The beds especially are tiny, and somehow we were able to crowd 12 of us around one laptop to watch the movie.
March 26 - I woke up early to go to see the course for the first time today. Emily was going to join me, but unfortunately the IAAF officials showed up today for drug testing and she was the lucky one that got picked! Arriving at the course nothing was marked, and I really had no idea where the course was. I ended up running most of my 40 minute run along the pretty paths surrounding the park. Later, I joined the others in walking to a nearby café in Old Town. Walter and I ordered hot chocolate, but were a bit surprised when it came. It was very thick and rich and it literally tasted like a melted bar of chocolate - I must admit it was pretty delicious, though! After our dinner that night, Emily, Laura, and I faced the junior guys in a battle-of-the-sexes game of Sporcle. Sporcle is a website with a bunch of quizzes, and we were outsmarted by the guys 3-2 in the end. However, in all fairness we were outnumbered 6-3!
March 27 - The beautiful weather ended today. It was rainy when Laura and I headed to the course for a 30-minute run followed by strides. What had once been a clear, hard course was now extremely muddy—perfect for picture day! The whole crew headed to the course that afternoon to take team pictures, but it wouldn’t stop raining. The course was marked today, so I walked it with Laura after pictures. In addition to the mud, there are two huge logs that we have to jump over during the race. Just to get an idea of the course, it is a 2k loop that we run 3 times. It is pretty flat, and the ground is a bit uneven and soft in places. Overall, though, I liked it, and I am excited to race on it tomorrow! Tonight, I ended up ice bathing with Magda and Renee. They again had great advice and told some inspirational stories. They both talked about low points in their careers, and how they overcame them. They both stressed that you should never give up, even when people stop believing in you. Race day tomorrow!
March 28 - Shelby and I woke up at 7, and I headed down to breakfast. I got to eat with and talk to Shalane Flanagan again—which I still find extremely cool! Talking with the Senior Women has been one of my favorite parts of the trip. They are so kind and welcoming; I think we all find them pretty inspirational. Once at the course, we relaxed in the athlete tent until it was time to warm-up. After checking in, I still couldn’t believe I was going to be racing against elite runners from all over the world. The starting box was a little strange, and we had to start in single file alphabetically. Once the gun went off though, it was crazy! There were elbows flying everywhere and pushing and shoving. I remembered the coaches telling us to be aggressive, so I was able to work my way up slowly. Once we got past the first 100 meters, I realized how much I was enjoying the race. It was still muddy in spots, but I think that along with the logs made the race that much more fun. I do not think I have ever enjoyed a race so much in my life! Our team ran well—finishing 6th—and I ended up in 18th. I was really happy with the race, and it felt so good, too. I loved the experience, and I would love to get to experience it again. After our race, we watched everyone else compete. The Senior Women were the best race of the day, finishing 3rd overall! After we returned from the meet, we headed out to the banquet. Our bus to head home leaves at 3 A.M. tomorrow, so we headed back to the café for some caffeine! Overall, this trip has been amazing. Traveling somewhere new with some of the best athletes in the U.S. along with racing international competition has made this trip unforgettable. I loved our team, and thankfully with Facebook and cell phones it is easy to keep in touch!