Mariah Castillo just wanted to feel a finish-line tape across her waist.
She didn’t get to feel it at the Mt. SAC Invitational (they didn’t even have a tape). She didn’t get to feel it at the Arcadia Invitational, either.
But after running 1600 meters on a misty day in Shoreline, Washington on Friday, the Saugus runner got her wish.
“I saw them getting the tape out and I got really excited,” Castillo said. That was one of my dreams. Just to cross the tape I was getting really excited and once I crossed it was like, ‘Oh my god.’”
Castillo has more than just tape to be happy about. Her time of four minutes, 41.40 seconds not only got her first place at the Brooks PR Invitational, it also ranks her first in the country currently and eighth all-time in the 1600-meter race in state history.
Additionally, she now holds Saugus program records in the 800, 1200, 1600 and 3200 distance events. She clocked 2:09.76 on Tuesday evening to break the 800 record.
Her Brooks PR finish held special meaning, however. After placing seventh in the 1600 and 12th in the 3200, Castillo’s spirits were low.
“I was very confident in my training and everything that I put into this … and I think I put too much pressure on myself throughout the whole season and it built up inside me and I felt like I blew up,” she said. “It was the worst feeling ever.”
A first-place finish in a national race is just what she needed.
The trip to Seattle wasn’t without its difficulties, however. She flew out on Thursday and arrived in Washington at 3 p.m., which was also the scheduled time of her “shakeout” run. Stress ensued until she found a group of fellow competitors to run with.
Shoreline’s environment was somewhat of a comfort, too. It was Castillo’s second time running in the Pacific Northwest in the last six months after taking third at the Nike Cross Nationals in December in Portland, Oregon.
“Weather-wise it was perfect,” she said. “It wasn’t hot, it wasn’t too cold. It did rain but it was a mist. I feel like running in the heat is way worse so I think it’s just better in general.”
Castillo’s next race will be at the NCAA Division 1 level as she heads to Texas Christian University later this month to start her college career.
“I’m really nervous. It’s something new,” she said. “New coach, new team, but I’m also excited and it’s like another opportunity to grow as a runner and work with people that I don’t know and have different personalities than the ones I’m used to. I’m just really excited to see what happens at TCU.”