RALEIGH — Caroline Alcorta finished the 10,000 meters race on Friday night at the Raleigh Relays, walked off the track at the Paul H. Derr Track and Field Facility and threw her hands on her knees in exhaustion.
It was the North Carolina senior’s first time running the event — the longest distance event in track and field — and the toll it took on her body may have caught her by surprise.
“I think she was just happy to have it done, if I’m being honest,” assistant coach Mark VanAlstyne said. “I think it took more out of her then maybe she expected. Just relief is what I saw in her face.”
Alcorta had just etched her name into the UNC record book, but had no idea. The Springfield, Va., native finished the race in second place with a time of 33:54.23 — good for second in the country this season.
It was also the second best time a Tar Heel athlete has recorded in the event in program history. Only Joan Nesbit, who ran a time of 32:54.19 in 1984, had a better performance in the 10,000 meters.
“I had a feeling I was going to break 34, if nothing bad happened,” Alcorta said. “But I wasn’t really aware of where I stacked up against the (all-time) UNC list.”
Alcorta didn’t find out that she made history until several minutes after she finished the race. She felt her cell phone buzz and saw a tweet from the UNC track and field Twitter account that recognized her performance.
“I got like a little notification on my phone that was like, ‘You’ve been tagged in such and such tweet' and I’m like, 'Oh neat,’” Alcorta said.
Then, it began to sink in.