As you can tell by now, running and cross country were a big part of my life growing up. I always dreamed of running a 4-minute mile just like my hero Roger Bannister. I envisioned a long and prosperous career as a track athlete, but life would have other plans.
Looking back over some of my freshman races, I saw a marked improvement throughout the season. Here are a few highlights:
As the season came to a close, I had a great freshman campaign. Each year, after the season concludes, athletes were invited to participate in the Kinney Cross Country Championships in Fresno, California. This was an opportunity to test myself against athletes from all across the western states.
The race would be running on the California State Cross Country course at Woodward Park in Fresno. The freshman boys race was one of the early morning races. The park and sun were still waking up along with all of us runners.
This race was like no other race I had participated in. Kids from all over the region toed the line. Since we were running as unattached athletes (no school affiliation) I had no idea what to expect or even what uniform to wear.
When the gun went off, the crowd went crazy. The header picture today was the start of this race. I was somewhere in this chaos. The pace was ridiculous that morning. I was running so much faster than any other race. It's like my brain forgot how to run a normal race pace.
We made our way through the parking lots and onto the dirt and coaches along with parents sprinted towards the first-mile marker. I knew the first mile was going to be quick. I anticipated somewhere around 6 minutes or slightly faster. I would have been in a good position to hold on for a great time or even a personal best.
As we passed under the mile banner, I heard 5 minutes, 5:01, 5:02, 5:04. Then I heard a time that nearly gave me a heart attack – 5:05.
What was I thinking? I had just run the fastest mile of my entire career (and it would turn out to be the fastest I would ever run). There was just one tiny problem. I still had to run two more miles.
It wasn't long after that point that my body said, I think we need to back it down a bit. I don't remember what time I finished in, but I think it was somewhere in the 21-minute range which would have been an excellent recovery after pulling an incredible mile.
This race would mark my first trip to Woodward Park as an athlete, but I would not see this park again until I took an athlete to the State Cross Country Meet in 1997 as a coach.
Just like many stories from the previous days, I find it fascinating how the stories in our lives are woven together to show the path that lies ahead. Often, the only way to see the path is by gaining perspective and reflecting because I certainly didn't see it while I was experiencing it.
The dream of the 4-minute mile will have to remain just that – a dream, but sometimes I have to pinch myself just to make sure I'm not dreaming right now!
[reminder]Take a few minutes today to look back over your life and see all the moments that were woven together to form the tapestry of your life. Write them down and celebrate them![/reminder]
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