Friday, November 18, 2016

NO FEAR


About three weeks ago, my high school XC team had their Middlesex League Meet, one of the last and most important races of the season.  We were coming off of a tough loss to Woburn, our biggest rival, and we were eager to prove to ourselves and to everyone else that we were still strong, if not stronger, and ready and willing to fight.  Before the race, I told the girls that it was okay to be nervous.  Nervous was good, even.  But fear?  There was no room for fear.  I let them know that they'd worked all season to prepare for these final three races and because of that they were ready.  I told them to trust their training, have faith in their teammates and believe in themselves.  And, finally, and most importantly, I encouraged them to go out there and run with their hearts.  I was 100% confident that each one of them had what it took to have a killer race, both as individuals and as a team.  And, that they did.  They completely blew it out of the water.  They gave it their all.  And then they gave it some more.  They took the win, which was amazing.  But the true joy for me was seeing all their hard work come to fruition, sitting back and watching (or running around and screaming, but you get my point) as they dug deep and tapped into that next level, the one they'd all been working so hard to find.  Needless to say, it was an epic day for all of us.

Middlesex League Meet Champs

Two weeks later, our team headed out to Wrentham to race at the EMASS Divisional Meet, another biggie.  This time, we were coming off the high of our league meet, still nervous, but really, really excited.  The girls needed to place top four in their division in order to earn a ticket the State meet the following weekend.  And they wanted it.  We all did.  We made our way to the line and once again I told them that it was okay to be nervous but there was no room for fear.  I reminded them, as I had at the league meet, that they'd been working their tails off since August to get to this point in the season.  I don't want to hear "what ifs" or "maybes", I said, it's time to execute and you are more than ready.  And, finally, I asked them, just as they had done two weeks before, to let go and run with their hearts.  And that they did.  They pushed harder mentally and physically then they had all season.  They put it all on the line.  And it paid off.  And because of this, it was yet another unbelievable day for our team.

EMASS Division 1 Champs

Tomorrow, we will head to Wrentham for our MA State meet.  It will be our final race of the season and by far the most intense.  They will be running against the best of the best.  They'll need to work harder than they've worked all season, if not ever, at least from a running standpoint.  If they want to win, and I know they do, they're going to have to take a risk, to go outside their comfort zone and it's going to hurt.  But it's going to be worth it.  It always is.  And they've heard it now several times, but I will tell them again....they have to trust their training, have faith in their teammates, believe in themselves, and leave their fear at the door.  If they can do this, as they have so successfully done for the last few weeks, than anything is possible.


One of the benefits of being a runner myself is that I can relate to my athletes on every level.  Each day I feel the same exhaustion, the same doubt, the same elation, and the same fear.  And, despite the fact that I'm significantly older than them, my own experiences with racing are no different from theirs.  On Sunday morning, (yes, the day after our State Meet) barring any issues (funny, but not really), I will be lining up at the start of the Philadelphia Marathon.  Six weeks ago, I wasn't sure if this would be possible.  I had 11 stitches in my heel and it hurt to walk.  I took it one day at a time, focusing on what I could do for just that day, a strategy I tell my runners to use all the time.  It was a painful, frustrating and scarily short training cycle.  But somehow I managed to get through it.  Now, it's time to practice what I preach.  On my race day I will leave my fear behind and channel my nerves into positive energy.  I will trust the process, have faith in my coach and believe in myself.  I will run with my heart.  Because what I ask of my athletes should be no different than what I ask of myself.  Let's do this.

Listen to this:

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this today. I'm dealing with an injury and my marathon (Now, half marathon) is only 8 weeks from tomorrow. I'm hoping to cross train and at least run the half for full and target another goal race, but it's good to read inspirational posts. I remember reading your posts from Wineglass and the stitches... and you set such a great example for your athletes by getting out there and doing your best no matter what. I hope you have a great race.

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    Replies
    1. Thx so much, Amy! What I learned in this process is that, in the end, my body calls the shots. I had to respect that, which is not always easy to do. But, it always pays off in the end. Best of luck to you with your half and whatever happens after that! Stay after it.

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