Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Heather Dorniden's Big Ten Adventure: You Can't Keep a Great Runner Down

Heather Dorniden's race in the 600 made everybody's highlight reel on Sunday. If you haven't seen it yet, click here. DtB asked Dorniden via e-mail to give us her thoughts on the fall, the meet, and what's next.

DtB: What happened that caused the fall?

HD: My original hopes were to cut to the inside of the track before I got to the curve for that final lap, and I obviously underestimated my stride length and cut in a bit too close. I remember feeling my elbow come into contact with the other runner and that was my first clue that I was closer than I thought. I certainly didn't intend to impede her motion, so my apologies go out to her and to Penn State. My parent's watched their video footage of the race in slow motion today and told me it looked like my leg's back-swing got caught up on her foot coming down in front. My mom said it looked like she 'brushed my hair with her spikes' when I was down, so I'm very thankful for everyone's quick reaction to get over me!!

DtB: What went through your mind as you went down, got right back up and into the race and saw that you were catching everyone?

HD: For some reason, I told the announcer yesterday that when something like that happens, a lot of four letter words come to mind, but in truth all I got out was a "Oh no!" on the way down. One beautiful thing about racing is you can have a million things running through your head on the starting line, but as soon as the gun goes off, it becomes pretty instinctual. I try to tell myself before the start of every race that all things are possible through Christ, and first and foremost I have to send the credit his way, because I certainly didn't feel like I did that all by myself. Immediately after the fall, I told myself, you have to get up to at least get a time that will score-- the team points were very close and I know everyone was counting on some points in that event. I think anyone else would have done the same thing if they found themselves in my position. Luckily, I am a native Minnesota girl (and pretty darn clumsy) and have had my fair share
of falls on ice in the winter where I've tried to get up really fast...(thinking maybe no one saw me??) One thing I can say with certainty is I am so grateful we were hosting this meet. My team, coaches, family, and tons of fans were going crazy around the whole track, and I felt like their energy just filled me up. I heard everyone cheering for my freshman teammate, Jaime Dittmar, who was doing an AMAZING job of taking the race where I left off, and told myself I can get back in there. Coming around the final curve, I heard the announcer saying "And watch out for Heather Dorniden!", which also got me pretty pumped...and the rest is history.

DtB: Any bumps and bruises from the fall? Did you feel them later? You still had the four by 400 to run, and the adrenaline doesn't stick around that long, did you feel the fall during the relay or just block it out?

HD: I got just a little scrape on my left knee, which is only appropriate because I had a pretty nasty scrape on my right knee from falling off my bike last Friday (I told you I was clumsy!!). I figure at least now I am symmetrical. If I were to kneel on both of them it probably wouldn't feel the greatest but other than that, I am blessed with major damage done. The adrenaline from the fall was certainly down a bit by the time we ran the four by four, but at that point I think a whole new batch of it was brewing, knowing this was the last event of the day and we may have just barely won a Big Ten title. Coach Wilson prefaced the race by saying, "Just stay on your feet Dorni!" and we just need to get the baton around the track, and I was fairly confident I could do that. :)

DtB: It was a busy day with the mile, the 600, and the relay, how did you approach the triple? How do you manage your energy, motivation, or does the the team element take care of much of that?

HD: Thinking about all three races at once is a pretty daunting task, and after doing the same triple last year, I knew it was best to take it one race at a time. After each race you quickly erase it from your legs' memory and tell yourself you are fresh and ready to go for the next one. Basically, the key word I tell myself is TRUST. Trust that you will be capable of sticking up there in each race, and trust you still have one more race in you. In all reality, you should be asking this question to Jamie Cheever, who ran the mile prelims and 3K on Saturday and came back to run an amazing mile final and 5K on Sunday. In fact, I think she ran NCAA provisionally qualifying times in all three events- simply phenomenal. I was hoping if I ran well in the 600m she wouldn't have to run the 5K, but the meet was so close that we didn't want to chance it. Another person who would probably give some good insight on this is Liz Roehrig, who WON the pent, and did high and long jump with a lingering injury in her ankle. Those girls are my heroes, along with the rest of the team who made our team championship possible. I feel like the excitement of my crazy race is taking the glory away from my amazing teammates, so I hope everyone can recognize their accomplishments as well!

DtB: What's next? NCAA Champs? What event/events?

HD: For the NCAA's, we are planning on our provisionally-qualified DMR to make it, and I plan on running the 800m. The team is ranked pretty high for us, so hopefully we'll all recover well from this exciting weekend to be fired up for the big finale. As far as what will happen at the NCAAs, certainly I cannot predict, but like I said, I believe anything can happen if you keep
the faith. Thanks for the opportunity to shed a little light on what went down (besides me!) yesterday!!!

Photo Courtesy of the University of Minnesota


brucekatlincreates said...

One of the most inspirational stories I have ever witnessed! I actually teared-up when Heather came down the final stretch running with determination, power and grace. Her will to win sets the bar higher for all of us and teaches a valuable lesson: to never give up.

Unknown said...

I didnt tear up like a woman, but i was very impressed. I have never seen such a show of determination, i still cant believe she passed all thos women up to finish first. You only see this kind of stuff in the movies. Nuff said

koodaram said...

our jesus christ is great

gooddaygoodlife said...

I am a man and I cried like a baby.

jeff joseph said...

thats was really mind blowing, praise the lord

Lenman said...

So tell me, what about the other Christian girls running the race? Did Christ just not pick them that day? Does he really care who wins a race? Doesn't he have other people with so much more need to look after? She trained for years and as she said, she thinks others would have done that same.

Maggie said...

Lenman, he helps us all. The lesson he wanted us all to learn and witness that day was that He CAN pick us up after a fall. He helped the other athletes move on after not winning. He helped the one who nearly stepped on her. He helped those who have shared the story. He is HELPER: "one who helps", the Bible says. It is her determination to not let a fall keep her from trying that is so moving in this particular story. And, we all have a story!

dhemb said...

Well said Joan!! He wants us all to finish well. In the eternal scheme of it, it doesn't matter who won a running race that day, she fell and rose to win as an example to all who have fallen at times, which is pretty much anyone with air in their lungs. Get up, brush yourself off, and get back in the race, to the goal of His high calling!