Thursday, May 31, 2012
Willing to Hurt in order to Triumph
Have you ever driven by a homeless person on a street corner who has a sign that reads something to the effect of "will work for food"? I happened to see that the other day, and was moved in more ways than one by his simple, yet profound statement on a piece of flimsy cardboard. First of all, the plainly obvious takeaway message I got was how desperate life situations can become to force a person to beg for work just to eat. We may all say that we work "so that we can put food on the table", but generally speaking, that work also paid for the table, in your dining room, in your house, on your land, that you also work to pay for. I am not one to judge the person who finds himself in dire need, nor the person whose needs are fulfilled. All I know is I am in the latter category, even if I still refer to myself as a "low-income athlete with a mortgage", I feel a certain calling to help those in need. Even if it just starts with keeping a few extra snacks in my car that I can share as I drive by a familiar person with a plea for help on a sign, I am asking my friends and family to hold me accountable on this one! :) Nextly, I came away with a metaphor about my running that I thought worthy of sharing (of course, leave it to me to glean running perspective in the most unlikely places!) What I thought was, as an athlete, what would my sign read? What do I feel like I need, and more importantly, what am I willing to offer to get it? The first thing that came to mind came out a bit more like an odd craigslist posting: 'Olympic A-Standard Wanted. Willing to hurt for 1:59.89 or better.' Before your mind wanders to all kinds of craziness, let me clarify. I am not willing to get clubbed, stabbed, or poisoned to run the Olympic A. What I mean by this is I am willing to run my guts out, and I am willing to feel a pain that I have never felt before to achieve my goal, because I know when the pain subsides, I will feel the greatest bliss. I was talking to my mom on the phone sometime after one of my first races this season, and she repeated something she has told me several times before. She said "you never look absolutely spent at the end of your races, I think you've got more in you." Usually when she says this to me, I take it as a compliment, and say how I always try to look like that at the end of a race so that I am intimidating to my fellow competitors, even if I feel horrible inside. The more I got to thinking about it though, the more I began to believe that I need to be willing to run ugly, to truly run beyond myself and put it all on the line, in order to achieve this dream I have been chasing for so many years. Who cares what other people think of me if my time can speak for itself? I need to stop worrying so much about keeping good form at the end of a race (which is obviously still important to some degree), and rather dig deep and do whatever I need to do to come across the line under 2 minutes. At the time of my last post, I was just about to race Fortaleza, Brazil. That race went much better than the hot and muggy 800m I competed in Belem, but I was still dissatisfied with the results. I ran 2:02.24, just one hundredth of a second behind the Columbian woman who jumped me at the line for the win. I am not saying I wasn't trying my hardest at the end of the race, but I could totally pin-point a place in the race where I had hesitated to take the lead (about 320m into the race), when I should have went for it with gusto and never looked back. I took that experience to heart as I went into the US Road Mile Championships right at home in Minneapolis. It was a windy day, and probably wise to stay in the pack for wind block, but with a little more than a quarter mile to go, I decided my best shot was to go for it, make my move decisively and never look back. Thankfully it worked just as I had hoped! I won my first professional national title, and became the first Minnesotan to win the US Road Mile Championship in MN. I couldn't have asked for more a more supportive setting than my home sweet home, the crowd was amazing, I never stopped hearing my name throughout the entire course. Before the race, I had visualized myself crossing the tape first, and getting the US Flag draped over my shoulders as I run into the street a champion. What a dream come true and a moment I hope to replicate in the future! I can't say enough thank you's to Twin Cities in Motion, the USATF, my teammates, coach, and supporters of Team USA Minnesota, my Apple Valley High School distance squad who came to watch again this year, my husband, my family, and the entire MPLS running community that stuck around to watch. Next up for me is an 800m race in St Louis, just hours away. I am hoping to carry some of that confidence from the win on the roads, and some of that frustration from a narrow loss on the track, and turn it into an awesome performance. Here's to dreams coming true, hard work paying off, and a willingness to run ugly! Ps, pictures from US Champs to come when I am using a device other than my iPad to post!