Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Race Day.

The season seemed to fly by; I couldn’t believe we were at the end. Here we were at the final race of the season, the WCC meet in Oregon.  I was to run the 10k, per my request. After running it once, it of course was harder than I thought, but I knew I could do much better than I had put down. I was excited especially because it has been a while since I had raced it. 

We flew out Saturday morning, yet it didn’t quite feel like I was racing that same evening. Our flight was early, but my race wasn’t until 10:00 pm, which was different but I was excited for it because it is not that often I get to race at night. During the day, we ate lunch, and when arriving at the hotel, I relaxed napped. Then grabbed Subway again for dinner, as I had for lunch; yes that is two foot long subs for the day.

It was feeling like race day now.  Arriving at the track in Willamette, it was beautiful. The outside had some trails nearby to warm up on, with beautiful wildflowers all over. Walking in to the stadium, it covered, with the lights warming up for the upcoming races. 

Before I would warm up, there were plenty of good races; many personal best were set- always helpful in giving a peace of mind. One race specifically almost a school record was an excellent race because the risk was taken to go with the pack, which ultimately led to a huge personal best.  It was my turn to warm up. Running a few laps outside the stadium, I watched in the distance under the lights as the 5k was going off at the same time; a teammate was gunning for revenge from the past seasons and raced the clock.  Running with my iPod, in between songs, all I could hear were my steady breaths and my stride as my feet hit the ground.

Upon arriving back, I gathered my spikes and my arm warmers because it was a chilly evening in Oregon. This would be the first (and probably only time) that the race would be combined with the men. From talking with coach, we both knew they race would probably go out quick because of this. Striding across the infield was feeling more and more at ease as I warmed  up with Linkin Park playing through my headphones so I could block all else out.    

After talking with my coaches, we were called to the starting line. On your mark….the gun went off.
My race was underway with just what I, we went a little quick- I expected that and secretly wanted that. Up through the first couple miles, I was aware of splits and pace I was hitting but had decided, it would not be best to hear my splits throughout the race. I heard a lap here and there but that was it. In the distance I was looking to catch a girl that was fading. Coaches kept me focused for the long run ahead, and not settling because it easy to do in such a run.  Came through the first 5k in 18:30, funny because that was right off my first 5k of the season, in which coach had told me she thought I would run that for my first 5k of the 10k. Here I was.

I was alone now, racing myself. I was focused on the track, trying not to stray off, looking straight ahead. I heard everything that was being said to me, very aware of what others told me to stay on track. I was so focused that I find my rhyme, my mojo perhaps to say that I lost track of my lap count. With the guys racing the same race, the lap count was not for me. I ran another mile or two until…I had to ask. In which I was given two different lap numbers…yeah for the 10k. I was hurting now, but only 5 laps yet. I dug in, in which it feels like I’m pushing hard and running faster, when really that’s what keeps us on pace, we all know that feeling.

Less than a mile. On our goal sheet for the team it was written, to have nothing left. Keep pushing, I wanted to do that. I wanted to be done, where was the final lap? Here it was. I was going. I heard everything louder than ever that lap. The teammates cheering, the coaches yelling, there was nothing to do but go- lift your legs and fly with all the pain. The crossing of the finish line and suddenly the first thing, I ask as the coach come over…..”Did I get it?.....The school record?” It was close, I just missed it by 4 seconds. Ouch.

Although the cool thing was, I spoke with my other teammate who had just missed the school record as well. She said she was glad she didn’t get it because  it was so close in reach for the upcoming year and would lay off the expectations to excel intensely in that event; it game way to be more well rounded. A wise freshman.  The gateway is open for the upcoming season even wider now, knowing we could get that close.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why We Run

"He ran not for crypto-religious reasons, but to win races, to cover ground fast. Not only to be better than his fellows, but better than himself. To be faster by a tenth of a second, by an inch, by two feet or two yards than he had been the week or year before. He sought to conquer the physical limitations placed upon him by a three-dimensional world (and if Time is the fourth dimension, that too was his province). If he could conquer the weakness, the cowardice in himself, he would not worry about the rest; it would come. Training was a rite of purification; from it came speed, strength. Racing was a rite of death; from it came knowledge. Such rites demand, if they are to be meaningful at all, a certain amount of time spent precisely on the Red Line, where you can lean over the manicured putting green at the edge of the precipice and see exactly nothing."
                         Excerpt from Once A Runner

The final race of the season to put it all together is right around the corner. This is indeed why we run; why we compete. I know that I toe the line with this in mind, that I am not only racing those on the line with me, but myself as well, often the toughest opponent.

I heard someone once say, “For once I want to race what I am capable of. That is my goal.” I completely agree with that statement. It is tougher than one would imagine, yet this lies so true among us all. I think this season I haven’t quite done that, but I have come closest to this goal than ever before. I am growing toward the runner I want to become. So I lay this out in mind for the upcoming meets, and anyone out there with races in mind soon to remember this. We race to compete. 

….And well on a lighter note, cause races shouldn’t be all serious- to follow our usual rituals which for me is my favorite Gatorade, lemon lime strawberry! Being part of the meet, we share multiple roles- the athlete, the teammate, the bystander. It’s here; the little quirks that get us excited because we’re in it for the fun of the environment; the breathe of it all.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Self Respect

It was a couple days after the Boston Marathon that I noticed an interview on Runner’s World online with Desiree Davila. She mentioned someone she would love to run with would be Joan Didion, to thank her for her essay, “Self Respect.” I had never heard of this essay before and immediately googled it to read it myself. The title had already caught my interest. I read it over a couple times to take it in. Here are my thoughts on it.

It quickly led me on to realize how often most of us do not even think about self respect…more so because we have this worry of everyone else. I did not become aware of this idea of self respect in this depth as Joan Didion writes until sometime in college. I realize I am still learning because I lose that respect once in awhile. It becomes easier to look at others, rather than look at your own reflection. Put aside your reputation and what others think of you; who are you? What do we want to become?

These are questions Joan Didion asks us to reflect upon. The essay is a classic on taking in our own identity.  We are all careless from time to time, yet those of us who take the gamble of our own risks and remember that was our own gamble, are those who understand self respect. Flattering others does nothing to enhance our own being.  We easily fall into that trap, but it is significant to see that is not the way to understand our self worth. 

So what does this have to do running? Everything.
Perhaps this how Deiree defines herself worth in ways, which has allowed her to define and overtake her own expectations. Running is after all, a very mental sport; to have a grasp on yourself, allows your legs to fly much higher than we ever thought they could at times.