Amy Hastings, 28, finished a heartbroken fourth at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in January, only to come back and win the 10,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in late June to make her first Olympic team. A native of Leavenworth, KS, Hastings marched in the Opening Ceremony, then began to hunker down for her 10,000-meter final on Friday, the first day of track and field competition. NYRR News Service will check in with Hastings once more during the Games, after she competes; today she reports in from the Olympic Village.
The Opening Ceremony was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I will try to describe it and fail miserably, but here goes: The moment when they held the U.S. team in the tunnel before we went out on the track was crazy. The excitement was palpable. I've never felt anything like it; it's what I would imagine it feels like when you’re in the tunnel and about to become the marathon gold medalist—where it is kind of quiet and you know it's coming and you're just excited beyond belief and then all of a sudden you emerge and people are screaming and you can release the pent-up excitement. But we weren’t just by ourselves; it was the entire U.S. team feeling that at the same time! It all became real in that one moment before we went out on to the field: We were Olympians!
In my suite at the moment are Des Davila and Diamond Dixon. It's pretty quiet here right now, which is perfect for pre-race relaxation. It was late when Des arrived on the 26th, which was her birthday, so we didn’t get a chance to really celebrate but I got almost the entire team to write birthday messages to her in a little book with the London skyline on it and gave that to her. I still owe her a birthday beer when we’re done here, though.
I’ve been running in Victoria Park, near Miles End, and it's been absolutely perfect for training. I really love it here. The village has been great; there is always a lot going on but I have no problem hibernating in my room when I need to. There are a million food options and everything is so convenient. Running from the village has become a little bit difficult because of the crowds, but Miles End is only one tube stop away and it's perfect there.
My parents, sister, brother in-law, nieces, nephew, brother, and his girlfriend are all coming to watch me race. Everyone knows that I am here to focus; they know that I know they love me and I have all the support in the world from them and that I will see them after my race. After the Olympic Marathon Trials there was no one I wanted to see more than my mom and dad. Even though I am 28, a hug from them after a rough day still has the same effect as it did when I was 8. Then in Eugene, my parents and brother and his girlfriend, Sue, were all there and it was so awesome being able to hug them after my race when I was happy! What's really funny is that if you watch the NBC online coverage of my race you can see for just a split second, on the very last straightaway when I was kicking it in, Sue in a yellow tank top jumping up and down along the fence and then my brother starting to run it in with me. It was so incredible to share that experience with my family.
My Mammoth teammates Jen Rhines, Deena Kastor, and Meb have been the greatest mentors these past four years, especially when they didn't even realize they were helping me. Just hearing them tell stories about their Olympic experiences and seeing the way they live and commit themselves to the sport has been a model for how I would like to be.
I have a tendency to get overly excited for even small races, so I've been spending a lot of time in my room turning my brain off and not thinking about running. I've gotten really into making my family tree on ancestry.com, which has been a great way to distract myself from everything else going on. I knew that the Opening Ceremony was going to pump me up, so ahead of time I was already thinking about how when I got back to my room afterward I would relax and get back to focusing on exactly what I need to be doing, which for me right now is just staying calm. Just preparing for that ahead of time really helped me calm down and refocus. I know I won’t have any problem getting excited. The hard part is waiting to get excited. I have been waiting for this race, every part of it—the excitement, the stress, the pain, every emotion that goes into it—for four years, longer than that even, so I will embrace them all, good or bad. I want to finish this race knowing that I did everything I could, knowing that I gave it my all. I'm not even completely sure what that means yet but I will be able to tell you afterward. Physically I feel wonderful. Right now I am trying to conserve every ounce of mental and physical energy to be able to use it on race day so I can pull something crazy off.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg