“You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream.” -C.S. Lewis
I had one goal when I started running. Well really it was two, but one of them I kept to myself. First I wanted to get into shape and lose 10-15 pounds. Not sure why I chose those numbers. I guess I felt it was achievable and would get me back to what I thought was a good weight. I did do a short Internet search and found out I was about 5 pounds short of officially being considered “overweight.” So I wanted to get away from that label. The other one I kept to myself because I didn’t want to tell everyone and never reach it. I didn’t want to feel like a failure. Like when I told everyone I was moving to Colorado, I didn’t want this whole “get back in shape” thing to be short lived too. That goal was to break 20 minutes for a 5K.
I grew up playing sports all my life. Baseball, basketball and football. I was always the number one or two guy on my teams. Often making all star teams. But as I got older I started to feel my desire to play these sports fading. I felt like I was playing more for my parents as opposed to myself. I was starting to feel pressured by them for some reason. Pressure just to part take in a sport and pressure during games. Whenever I didn’t perform well in a game, I felt like I let them down. My dad worked nights so he missed a lot of games. I remember one basketball game in 7th grade I scored 2 points. When I called my dad after to update him, he seemed mad and remember getting chewed out. I understand ever parent wants their kid to be the best though. By my 8th grade year I had stopped playing all of the sports that would fill my year round calendar. Honestly, it was amazing! Not having to go to any practices was such a relief. I felt free for the first time.
High school came around. The week before classes start, you go to the orientation day where you get your schedule. You and your parents walk around and meet all of your new teachers and get your assigned books. Just outside one of my classrooms there was a table set up. A few girls from the cross country team were there signing people up. Not sure why, but I put my name down.
I ended up running three out of four years. I skipped my sophomore year. That year was a rough year for me. I got suspended that year and took a breakup really hard that year and it wasn’t until the summer going into my junior year when I decided to run again. I picked it back up really for stress relief and to cope with the breakup. Going into the senior year of cross country was actually how I met the girlfriend that I had just broken up with after six years. So making the random decision to sign up made a huge impact on my life.
Like I said before I was never a fast runner. Really I wasn’t. Consistently I was one of the slowest runners on the team. It seemed like for the men’s team, the magic time to break was 20 minutes. Each year it seemed like almost everyone on the team passed that mark, but me. My freshman year my fastest time was 20 flat. So close! And did I ever come close to that time again? Not a chance.
Breaking that time was all I wanted to do senior year. I busted my ass the last two weeks of the season training. I was confident I was going to set a PR on my last race of high school. I went to bed the night before the last race visualizing crossing the finish line under 20 minutes. I woke up determined. On my way to the meet I cranked up the car stereo as loud as it could go to pump me up. After I parked and was making my way down to where all the teams meet, a starting gun goes off. “Must be the girls race starting” I thought.
I got to my team’s area and none of the guys were around. My coach looked at me and said “you just missed your last race.” I was pissed. The girl’s race was moved to after the guy’s race for some reason. I even asked to race with the girls, but he wouldn’t let me. My Mom showed up a little after me with the camera all ready to go and excited it was my last race. I felt awful telling her what happened. I really let her down.
After that, I didn’t keep up with running at all. There was a five year break from high school to when I started to run again. So when I picked it back up, the dream of breaking my freshman personal record was alive again. I had no idea how hard it would be.