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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Woman Up 2016

This past fall, the coach at Hilliard Davidson High School, Nate King, asked if I would come talk to his team.  I excitedly said "yes"!  I love chatting with young women in the sport, and seeing the fire in their eyes when you talk about something that really makes them tick.  I was a bit nervous, and wanted to say the "right things" and "be inspirational" blah, blah, blah.   They seemed to like me a a week later when I came back to run with them, so I went to as many meets and practices I could, and loved watching them thrive.  One afternoon at practice, Coach King handed out packets of information for the week ahead, during a meeting. And SLAP right across my face was something I had needed to hear for a long time. 


I stood there listening as he told the girls to think like "beginners", not to allow the limitations that come with "being an expert" to slow them down.  Holy crap?! I am guilty!  I wanted to shout. But that would be inappropriate, so I stood there listening as he reminded them to dream big and set goals, both realistic and chase worthy.  Not to settle and let the past define who they could become over the course of the season.  
I recalled the incredible possibilities I saw in running.  I remembered the first real feeling of being a bad ass. The first time I let myself chase down a dream. It was the final curve of the conference championship 800m my freshman year. I was in 3rd place when a girl from West Branch came up on my shoulder, I said to myself "I won't let her win". I moved wide and ran as hard as I could for 150 meters.  I passed the two other girls in front of us, pushing with all I had not to let the girl on my shoulder out run me. I won that night. I beat a handful of girls I didn't think I could.  I decided in that moment I was better than I believed I was, and I was going to let myself dream and chase. I may have been a bit over confident. But it allowed me to dream big. I wasn't a stellar High School athlete. My PR's were 20:01 in XC, 59.9- 400m, 2:16- 800m, 5:20- 1600, and 11:28- 3200m. 
Go Dukes! 
It was enough to get me a scholarship at the University of Akron. Unfortunately I had some tough breaks. I was injured, overweight, and not very fast for a large part of my time in college. Even when I did run "well" in college, times of 4:34, 4:58, 10:51, and 18:00.03 (yes that's right who can't find .03 seconds) for the 1500, mile, steeple, and 5k respectively,  were hardly a reason to keep running and postpone a "real" job. There was something in me that just knew I had much much better days ahead. I believed with every fiber of my being I could be a great runner. I refused to give up on that dream, much to the chagrin of my close family and friends who believed I should probably get a "real job"--no thanks! 
Go Zips!
The crazy belief I had in my dreams lead me to qualify to 3 Olympic Trials, finish in the top 15 in a number of USA Championship races, and run PR's I guarantee my High School and College coaches never would have bet on.  But after nearly 20 years of competitive running, and coaching I had started "thinking like an expert", and not in a good way.  I had taken something very important out of the equation.  I began thinking X in practice = Y in race. That was what I ran by. I still loved running and believed I could get faster. But I was missing a huge part of what made me the runner I am today, and will make me a better runner in the future. The part where I DREAM BIG, and TAKE CHANCES!  So one of my goals in 2016 is to change the equation.
 X in practice = Y+possibility in race. 
Thank you Hilliard Davidson XC for reminding me what dreaming big looked like again. Getting to be a part of your XC season was so much fun, and very exciting, you ladies showed me how to "think like a beginner"(in a good way) and believe in the possibly of my dreams, to take the chances that will give me a better opportunity to succeed. I am excited to chase big goals and watch you chase yours in 2016! #womanup2016

Cheers to dreaming big like this girl did! And once again Go DUKES!!

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