It is not a secret that I struggled to run decently during college and that I never reached my athletic potential. When I transferred from community college to a four year school I had a hard time adjusting to a new team, a new coach, and a whole new school. My first xc season after transferring was an improvement upon the previous 2 xc seasons, but not great. I was still nowhere near where I was during my sophomore and junior years of high school and I had lost hope that I would ever improve or see the day that I could equate my performance to that time in my life. I logged a lot of miles between the end of xc season in 2007 and the start of the new year. I had briefly experienced indoor track in high school and I disliked it but I decided to run indoor track during my junior year of college. On January 18, 2008 we had a meet. The semester hadn’t even started yet but we had a meet and I was going. We were leaving school at a weird time, late afternoon, and I distinctly remember this because I was at work before I went to this race. I remember wearing my uniform under my work clothes and stripping in the parking lot to put my warmups on. I didn’t think anything of it at the time and I didn’t even think about the race at all that day. I was just going through the motions because I was frustrated with running. When we got to the meet I was entered in the 5k and seeded with a time around 21:00. This didn’t make any sense to me since my xc 5ks were way faster than this seed time but a seed time is just a seed time, right? I say that now but I was pretty irritated at the starting line. I stood there staring down at my pink and yellow nike jana stars and I felt like I was going to cry–not because of the seed time but because I had no idea what was going to happen when that gun shot, then the gun shot.
This is one of those races where I don’t remember a lot, but I do remember a few things from the race:
1. My body felt fantastic and I felt like I was floating.
2. I was actively passing people and hanging on to the leaders for as long as I could when I made my way to the front of the race.
3. I knew I was going to run way under 21 minutes after the first half mile.
4. After 2 miles I knew I would break 20 for the first time in several years.
I ran 19:18:81 and I came in 5th place. *sidenote: my college keeps a good archive and I was able to find all of this information, including the date of the race on the website…I have a good memory but its not good enough for me to remember the exact date and where I placed. In fact, I didn’t exactly remember what my time was I just remembered this race and I knew the time was something in the 19s and I was happy about it.* When I finished the race I was almost crying again because I was so happy. In that moment I felt like I had finally overcome everything I had been dealing with the past 3 years and I was finally happy with running again. The entire duration of the indoor season I was on my A game. I was running well and loving training. Spring went similarly. I didn’t improve much but at least I remained consistent.
This one race allowed me to breakthrough all of the negativity and obstacles that had been hindering my running. I can’t pinpoint exactly what made this race or this day so special. Maybe it was because I wasn’t focused on racing since I had been at work before we left, maybe all of my training finally just clicked and everything fell into place, maybe I had a supernatural power guiding my footsteps that day–I really don’t know and I don’t think I ever will. What I do know is that this race was meant to happen so that I would finally feel confident again. I finally loved the sport again. Most importantly, I wanted to get faster…….so I began my quest for a sub 19 minute 5k. *spoiler alert: I never broke 19 in college*