Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pep Talk


"We acquire the strength we have overcome."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are 95 girls on our high school track team.  65 of them jump, throw, sprint and/or hurdle.  The other 30 of them run distance.  These are the girls that I coach.  Yesterday we had our first outdoor league meet. The weather was rough.  It was about 35 degrees, which isn't too bad, but the wind was blowing like nobody's business and this made it feel about 20 degrees colder than it was.  Competing in conditions like this is tricky for any athlete.  The wind throws everything off.  Add to that the fact that these girls were sporting a singlet and shorts during their events and could barely feel their hands and feet and you've got a whole new degree of difficulty.  There are a handful of girls who compete in the 2 mile, which is 8 laps around the track.  It happens to be the second to last event of the meet with only the relays following it.  The meet started around 3:45.  The two milers patiently waited and cheered on their teammates until their race.  They were wrapped in blankets, wearing socks on their hands and basically using anything they could find that might keep them warm.  They waited for almost 3 hours.  Three.  Hours.  Three very long, cold, and tortuous hours.  A few minutes before they were set to race one of them came over and said, "Coach Trax, we need a pep talk."  I walked over to the group and noticed several things.  First, all of their lips were blue.  Second, they all looked worried.  And third, I don't think any of them truly believed they were about to take off their sweats and run for an extended period of time...primarily because one of them specifically said, "are we really going to do this?"  I've got to be honest, I was not totally prepared to give them what they needed at that moment but I did my best.  "Okay," I said.  "This is probably the worst possible weather you will get during your outdoor season.  So, it can only get better from here, right?"  Blank stares.  "All right, I know this sucks, but the other team has to deal with it, too, so you're not alone in this battle and the playing field is even."  Crickets.  "Girls, this is 14 short minutes of your lives, give or take. It's just a drop in the bucket. Done and done."  "Coach", one of them said, there is nothing "short" about this race.  She had me there.  "Here's the deal," I said, "this is undoubtedly going to be one of your hardest races ever.  You will be cold in the beginning.  The wind will make it worse.  You have to trust me when I tell you that these are the kind of races that make you a better runner.  You will be a stronger person, mentally and physically, when it is over.  And that makes it all worth it.  I'm not sure if this helped or even sunk in at all.  But the whole group completed the race successfully.  And, I'm betting, they will always remember that.  Go team!


Listen to this:
Harder Before It Gets Easier - David Wax Museum
Download Harder Before It Gets Easier - Knock Knock Get Up


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