Road to Cuba: Dylan Peebles, Blog #1

by Steve Underwood

During these final weeks leading up to and including our 2015 Caribbean Scholastic Invitational in Cuba, two of the participating athletes are blogging for us: Dylan Peebles and Anna Cockrell (see her blog HERE).

Dylan is a junior at Wakefield HS in Raleigh, North Carolina and the recent runner-up in the NCHSAA North Carolina state 4A 200m dash. He also won the 4A state title in the 300m indoors. He is a rising sprint star in the Tar Heel State with 55m to 400m range and we look forward to his being part of our Team NSAF!

When I first got invited to run on the Cuba team I was extremely blessed and honored to be asked to join the team.  But I also was very surprised, because I never have had such a great opportunity given to me in my life. 

My dad and I actually talked about the team and meet when we were in New York at the New Balance Nationals Indoor meet.  We talked about how there was so much talent there and how difficult it would be to be chosen for the team.  Then on April 10th my high school coach told my dad that I was invited to be on the team.  WOW!  I knew this would be a huge opportunity and would help me to get recruited to run at the collegiate level.  But on the flip side, I will be missing a couple football camps this summer that I had planned to attend.  I play defensive back for Wakefield High School, which is not an easy position. 

So I knew when I made the decision to go to Cuba, I would have to juggle training between the two sports.  So I looked at all the pros and cons of going to the meet, or attending all the football camps that same week, and I decided to run.  This is simply a once in a lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. 

So as I sit here and reflect on how great of an opportunity this is, it takes me back to my first track meet of this past indoor season.  I started training in late November after football season ended.  In the first meet of this junior indoor season, I ran the 300- and the 55-meter dashes at the JDL Fast Track in North Carolina.  I ran well in the 55, considering my times from last year.  I actually had a 0.3-second PR, which is pretty big for that short of a distance.  In the 300 at that meet I ran a personal record of 35.65.  Last year my personal record was 37.89, so my coach and I were very pleased.

The next indoor meet I ran 35.62 for 300 and was surprised to get invited to run the 400 at the David Oliver Classic meet, which was also held at the JDL, because of the times I had posted in the 300.  Before this point of the season I was training mostly for the 55, but when I was invited to this meet I asked my coach if I could train with the quarter-milers so I would be fully prepared to compete with the best 400 runners in the state of North Carolina.

I was nervous about the race because it was really my first open 400 in a long time.  I have run on a lot of 4x4 relay teams, but have not run many open 400s since back when I was 11 years old.  I knew I had to execute my race strategy to win, especially because I wasn’t in the faster heat of the two races in the meet. 

During the race I got out very well and then got into my cruise phase of the race, and when I did that I knew I had more foot speed than any of the other competitors because I had been training all year for the 55. When I did that, two racers passed me at the 200-meter mark because I had let off the gas too much … so I knew I had to kick a little earlier than I had planned.  At the 250 mark, I started my kick and caught one competitor so there was one more ahead of me with 200 to go. That competitor turned out to be the 500m state champ.  I knew coming into the meet that he was very strong, but I knew I was stronger.  So I sat on him until we came off the curve onto the final homestretch. I t was a very close battle till the end of the race, but my foot speed and speed endurance kicked in and I passed him with only about six meters to go in the race.

The final time was 50.47.  I was mad at myself because I knew I could run way faster than that.  The reason I didn’t run as fast as I had planned too was because of my cruise phase; it was way too slow which caused me to get trapped in the back.  If I had not have done that, I feel like I would have run 48 that day.

After that, I ran in another big indoor meet at UNC-Chapel Hill against Ryan Clark, one of the athletes that is on our team for the meet in Cuba.  I knew how fast he was, so my strategy was to try and stay close to him and get a PR.  That strategy worked.  He pushed me to run a huge personal record of 35.01.  My dad, my coach and I were all very pleased with the time, but we all knew I could run 34 seconds.  I came so close, which was bittersweet, but I was still blessed to have improved my time by six-tenths of second within a week.

Next up for me would be to try and capture my first North Carolina state title, running the 300 in the indoor championships.  We’ll talk about that next week.  In the meantime, it’s time to go practice for Cuba!

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