May usually means State Meet.
Sadly, that isn't the case this year.
It's going to be weird not starting Memorial Day Weekend soaking in the summer sun as it sets on Middle Tennessee State University.
I've been to the state meet every year since I was a freshman in high school. That was 2012.
Some of those years were I was there as an athlete. Some as a fan. And many more reporting right here for Tennessee MileSplit.
I don't know late May without a state meet. I imagine it's the same for many of you.
There are lots of things I'm going to miss. And I'll use a few posts over the course of this month to vent and maybe relate with some of you who may miss the same things.
It's tough to imagine May without State.
As a distance runner, state was a chance to celebrate the miles. Summer miles. Cross country miles. Christmas break miles. Freezing-cold-I-can't-feel-my-hands miles.
All of them led to the state meet.
It was one of the ultimate motivators when I didn't want to get up and run.
My teammates were counting on me to help them finish off the year right at the State Championship.
I couldn't let them down.
In my new role as a writer and broadcaster, state is like a convention.
It's a meeting of the running community. Our running community.
So let's still come together anyways. Let's bond over sharing what we're going to miss about those grueling hot days in Murfreesboro.
Because as cliche as it sounds, we really are all in this together.
So let me begin.
// The Sounds //
I'm going to miss the sounds of the State Meet.
Because there's nothing else like it in our sport at the high school level.
Until you've run a state championship, it's hard to simulate that kind of pressure. That kind of nosie.
I definitely wasn't ready for it when I ran my first State Meet as a junior.
There's something invigorating about a wall of sound greeting you as you make the final turn into the homestretch.
It inspires you. Motivates you to kick it in hard to the finish.
In the early laps, it even kind of scares you. Catches you off guard.
The opposite is true as well.
There's something haunting about the lack of noise. Because you can feel awfully alone on the other end of the track.
When you make the first turn, you don't hear much. Maybe it was just me, but I didn't hear any deafening noise over there.
The crowd on the other end of the field seems miles away.
The roar of the crowd can't carry you to the finish line when you're that far away from it. You've got to motivate yourself. And you've got to stay locked in until you can start to feel the finish line and embrace that roar again in a matter of meters.
I attached the video of Emmanuel Bynum's 400 meter state record from last year's meet up above in the article. It was one of my favorite races to watch at last year's state meet.
It was a historic run. It was a nationally elite performance.
But listen to the sound.
When something special is happening, which is something that happens every couple of minutes at the state meet, there's a certain buzz to the crowd that can't be described. And Bynum's race was one of those special moments.
From the "MOVE" that rises from the crowd when a sprinter gets out of the blocks to the collective gasp when someone may have broken a record at the finish line, state provides us with the sounds of the season.
Even just thinking about hearing the Olympic theme song over the PA system at the start of the meet right before the National Anthem gives me chills.
It's electric. All of it.
And it's going to be missed.
A lot of our regular season meets are on Thursday or Friday afternoons. Our classmates who would come cheer us on have practices of their own and can't always make it.
Maybe the distance squad is at one meet while the field event group is somewhere else. Sometimes you'll try different events that aren't your best just to get experience doing something a little different.
That's part of what makes the state meet so different.
It's special when you get a full stadium, a bus full of teammates who are probably all competing in their best events and a standing room only crowd that's cheering you on. And even if they're not specifically rooting for you, their energy is contagious.
And it's so unique to state.
I'm going to miss a lot about the state meet. Yes, even the annual sunburn that's become a tradition from my days competing and covering the meet for the site.
But the sounds may be what I miss the most. Our running community comes together in full force on those hot and humid days.
There's nothing like it.