Disclaimer: The following is probably the longest and most in depth blog post I have ever written. There is a lot of running jargon in there and it's very real and honest. Ultimately, I know how blessed I am. I have had a wonderful overall experience at TVCC. I have amazing teammates and the best coach. I am going to cry when I say goodbye to them, I know. But I'm also disappointed, and I had to be transparent. Sometimes that's the only way to write.
I couldn't possibly recount all of the events of the last few days or express the tumult of emotions that have been rolling through my head.
NWAACCS was physically and emotionally taxing - bittersweet in every way. There were some great things about it - like having family there to watch and support me - but I did not perform as hoped. I cracked under pressure.
My 10k on Monday morning was a disaster - the slowest of my life, in fact. I was ranked 1st going in and I walked away with 3rd. I could blame it on the girl who sat behind me the whole first half of the race, clipping my heels and drafting off of me while I paced for her... or I could blame her coach who put her up to it. He planned the whole thing with her ahead of time and coaxed her through the whole race, making comments each time around the track that majorly got into my head.
But ultimately I am the one who wasn't mentally strong enough to finish the race. I am the one who slowed way down and let
one two girls pass me. I am the one who failed.
I can't even explain how frustrated I am about the whole thing. I feel like I let my coach down. An All-American standing doesn't mean anything when you perform terribly.
Monday night we went to a banquet with all of the participating schools. We all dressed up. We ate gross pasta (I'm probably the only runner who doesn't like the stuff, I know). We got our minds off the competition (yeah right). It was fun.
But after I felt sick. I was shaky and cold and exhausted. I fell down on my hotel bed and let the weight of the day flow out in tears. Two of my closest friends and teammates listened as I opened up about my disappointment and insecurity. And I told them I hated racing. And at that moment, I really did.
We all fell asleep around 9 pm. I haven't felt so sick in a long time. Blame the dehydration, not enough food, the heat, whatever. But I really needed sleep!
Tuesday morning was a new day, though. I felt much better when I woke up, and I had two races left to focus on. I can genuinely say that they went much better than the first one.
I led the first two laps of my 1500m, even though I wasn't even close to ranked first. People just paced/drafted off of me and then out kicked me in the end. I knew it wasn't smart racing. But I'm so good at pacing, and that was the pace I was used to running. All this tactical championship stuff is annoying to me. Maybe I should just be a professional "rabbit". (For those of you who don't know, those are the pacers in races that drop out halfway through... they are only there so other people can pace off of them in order to run faster).
My coach just laughed at me afterword and said
"well, you certainly keep things interesting!"
Two hours later, I ran the 5k. And I decided to try a different approach. NOT LEADING. So that's exactly what I did. I went out slow, like everyone else. I tucked behind a pack of girls and drafted off of them for a change. It was miserable, though. We were all crowded and they were throwing elbows and it lasted for about a mile and a half. Finally, they broke away.
And for some reason, I didn't go with them.
BUT I didn't stop racing. Instead, I slowly chased them down. I ran a killer last mile - must faster than my first two - and picked them off, one by one. Let me tell you something, it's much more fun to chase and pass then to be the target.
In hindsight, I know I had SO much more energy at the end. I should have kicked harder
and passed those two girls that were just five seconds ahead of me.
could have should have gotten All American in that race, too.
I'm not trying to complain. I know I need to count my blessings. I made the podium in all my races. I was the only girl to run all three of those events - quite the triple!
And I know I should be grateful. I am grateful.
But at the same time, I'm so frustrated. I just feel like... WASTED POTENTIAL.
Physically, I should have gotten 1st in the 10k and 2nd in the 5k (the 1st place 5k runner is crazy fast... one day I'll get there). But mentally, I SUCK at racing. I'm a disaster. I'm not competitive. Or something. And the problem is, in the world of college track, all that matters is the races.
No, it doesn't matter that I can and have run 20-24 x 400 meter repeats at an average of 83 second pace. It doesn't matter that I got tons of sleep and drank my weight in water and ate perfectly and lifted and swam. All of that hard work is for nothing if I don't show up to race.
Obviously, I have a lot to think about. My coach told me that I just need to take the summer to reset mentally. But I feel terrible... because I won't be reseting for him. I'm transferring. I'm ready to graduate in a few weeks, and I'll be going to a whole new school with a whole new coach and running program. And I can't help but feel like I'm just a total disappointment to my current coach. I KNOW this is NOT true. But it's how I feel right now.
I know this post may seem far more depressing than my usual ones, but I really felt that I needed to be honest. Right now I'm really confused about why I even do this. I think I love it, but it doesn't feel that way right now.
I am planning on taking the next two or three weeks off of running, and this will be a good chance for me to reset. But for this rest period, I need to do my best to NOT think about running. I need to eat junk food and stay up late and focus on school and my social life. I need to let myself be bored and take naps during the day. And I need to be in the moment,
because the moment is passing quickly.
Hopefully, at the end of this break, I'll have a fresh passion and perspective. One thing is for certain. If I am going to keep doing this college track thing (which is already established) I am not going to have another year (mentally) like this one. If I'm going to keep doing this, working this hard, investing myself this much - I am GOING to see results. I am going to nationals next year.
Mark my words.