I knew I should’ve made a post earlier this week to lead up to what I’m about to write about. Time is fleeting however, so I’ll work with what I’ve got and take a wide curve from my normal post. Today I raced in my second collegiate 8K race (4.9Mi.) and came in 118th place with a time of 30:42. With that time I PR’d (Personal Record) by about a minute. Woo! Way to go Travis! You PR’d! Yeah, yeah…I know I should be proud of that, but I’m still frustrated that I’m placing in the triple digits! Sure, I’ve improved timewise, but I’m still lingering in the back of the pack catching only the stragglers that exhausted themselves in the beginning of the race. It seemed like with each person I caught, three more would pass. I’m a decent runner, mediocre, run of the mill…I’m tired of that! I don’t expect to be the best, but I don’t accept my current standing as success. I’m slogging my way through the races and prove I can finish strong with a standard time for the standard runner. I’m a collegiate athlete though! It’s about time I race like one!
I mean, look at that! Does that look like the face of a collegiate runner to you?
In my high school days, Coach Hoover, who means so much to me told me once that running is 90% physical and 10% heart. He said “When your body is shutting down and you don’t feel that it can bring you to the finish, then you have your heart finish for you. Running is 90% physical, when that fails, the last 10% is all on your heart.” Hmm, perhaps not a direct quote, but the point is, when your lungs seem like they’re overloaded, your thighs are begging to feel relief, and your mind is fighting your body, you have to rely on your heart to push down those walls and get you to that finish.
My second high school 5k that I ran, I remember coach coming alongside me (Coach would run the J.V. races with us) and saying that I needed to move up. He said I was sandbagging and needed to push myself. For the remainder of the race, he ran behind me, and each time I would slow down, he would shout “TRAVIS!” I quickly responded by picking up the pace. Haha That’s how it went, he would say encouragements as we went, him, another teammate of mine and myself. We were truckin’ along as he gave his famous Hoover talks. When the last mile mark hit he told me to leave him and that’s when he told me that my heart is what will guide me to that finish mark. “Running is 90% physical Travis, 10% is heart. Your legs will carry you, so long as you have the heart to push on!” I listened and I left coach and my teammate ending the race with a four minute PR! (My first race being a 29:33, but let’s forget about that) I continued to progress with each race, always keeping in mind that it’s 10% heart. I dropped time by huge chunks being two minutes, minute and a half PR’s up until I hit my runner’s wall. The runner’s wall is where you start to plateau and you don’t see a lot of improvement, it’s expected. I started to average twenty-one minute 5k’s and finished my first season with a 21:14.
Jumping back to present day, I was so ready to break down my wall and defeat this beast! (8k) I was ridiculously nervous during the days leading up to it and before the start I was still anxious. I took out at a hard pace, but not unreasonable for the first half mile. Looked pretty good, until all around me people just kept passing. I was quickly fading, and try as I might, I knew I could not hold their pace. Thus, begins the mental warfare, mind and body at odds, who prevailed? Mind…definitely mind. I pulled back and quickly lost my position. Maintaining a comfortable pace essentially means you just forfeited the race and you’ll settle to simply finish. I wouldn’t say I got to that point, I knew I was going to have to hurt and hurt bad if I wanted to truly compete. For the first two miles I glided along at a pace I was comfortable with, then I decided to race. By then though, it’s too late, the leaders have been racing since the gun sounded and here I am two miles into it saying “Alright! Who’s ready to challenge THIS guy?!” I do this weird snapping thing with my fingers and take off regaining a hard pace making ground on my fellow stragglers. Then I falter…Then I rebound! Then I falter. Back and forth I go trying to muster the courage to truly hurt and go beyond my perceived limits. I did manage to let out a few of my famous Travis “screams”, partly due to mistaking the finish to be a mile and half before it actually came. This mistake did bring me to a point where I was picking up stride and turn-over, which allowed me to make the true finish more competitive.
Look at that finish! Close call there, with only a two second lead!
The life of a runner is frustrating to be sure. When you have your victories though, the rewards are worth all of the pain and frustration you felt to achieve that victory. When you have your coach smile at you and say “Well good deal!” joy overwhelms you. Breaking down your own barriers and pushing yourself to limits you never thought possible, brings about such a high sense of accomplishment. You break down that wall and you reach that goal and and you go after the next goal. Progressing with determination and vigor, reach that goal, you never thought possible.
Now that! That is the face of a determined runner! A runner who is facing pain and pushing through it. I just have to bring him back!