In Her Own Words: Bridget Blake-Foot Locker Experience

Where do I even begin? What an absolutely amazing experience. After a long seven hours of air time I finally arrived in San Diego with many other runners from across the nation. The first thing they give you is a giant bag full of all kinds of gear and shoes from Asics. It's basically an early Christmas! The whole time you are treated like royalty.We had a group run that left straight from the "Del" (Hotel del Coronado on the Pacific Ocean at Coronado Island, which serves as meet headquarters and athlete village) and went along a bike path along the ocean. What a view! We didn't have much time to get ready before our regional meeting and dinner in the Grand Hall. After dinner we had team activity which was Minute to Win It. We each participated in our own challenge which was super fun and exciting. Everyone returned to their rooms after the activity and the next morning we were up to eat breakfast before loading the buses and heading over to the course at nine.

The course has just about every single surface to run on from dirt, grass and some rocky trail. Of course everyone was anxious to see the hill we would have to face twice while running the course. It's definitely a course one wouldn't see in Florida, but I sure was up for the challenge! After the preview we headed back to the Del for lunch and free time! The South girls all hung out together before getting ready for dinner and celebrity panel. It was completely normal to be walking around the hotel and run into Ryan Hall or the Gouchers and many other elite athletes, which is one of the many amazing things about the whole experience. The celebrity panel was extremely inspiring as we learned many things from each of them who had all been to Footlocker before. It was early to bed the night before and the next morning I found myself awake before my alarm had gone off.

The nerves and excitement were all in the air at breakfast before everyone was loaded up at 7:30 to head to the course. It was perfect conditions for the whole event. There's a lot going on from the moment you step off the bus to your warm up before getting in line for introductions. I tried keeping myself calm and relaxed before toeing the line of the biggest race of my high school career. From start to finish I concentrated on the key word "Strong" and the two words I wrote on my hand "Faith" on one and "Fear" crossed out on the other. I can't explain the feelings of joy once I found out I had made All-American! I was so proud of all my South girls as well who all stepped up and showed the nation what we were made of placing second as a team overall.

The rest of the day was strung with many events from the beach to the candy shop and many things in between. After dinner, the banquet and the dance many of us went to the beach. The view from the beach looking back at the Del was gorgeous. We all definitely tried to make the most of the experience staying up until 3:20 before returning to our rooms to pack and catch the bus to the airport at 4 a.m. This sure did make the trip home a little easier since everyone totally passed out on our flights

I can definitely say this was the best experience of my entire life and one I will greatly cherish. I would like to thank everyone who made it possible especially God, my family, friends and amazing Coach. Thank you all for always believing in me and for the unending support! Now it's time to rest up and prepare for track!

Bridget Blake Post-Race Interview

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