I’ve raced a total of 58 800’s over the past four years (counting relays). Yes, fifty-eight. But this one, this 59th one, was different.
It took every ounce of courage in my body to step up to the line this weekend.
From the Kentucky Track and Field Invitational on January 18th , 2014 (800 # 1) through the USATF Outdoor Championships June 22nd, 2017 (800 # 58), I was wearing a Buckeye uniform. I had a director of operations to plan everything for me. I was comfortable.
This past weekend was 800 # 59, but it was also my first 800 without a Buckeye uniform. Even though I’ve found some sweet success in a good deal of miles, 5k’s, and other off-distances since retiring my eligibility for the scarlet and grey last June, I was yet to race my beloved 800. Sentimentally, I knew that racing an 800 in a different uniform come indoor season, ridiculous as it may sound, was going to be emotionally and mentally challenging.
This past weekend, I lacked the structure of having a collegiate team. I lacked a director of operations. But most of all, I lacked the comfort of familiarity.
The transition from the college system to the post collegiate system has been terrifying, invigorating, frustrating, exhilarating, exhausting, rewarding, and fun all at the same time. And through this period of transition, I am extremely thankful for the support of Columbus Running Company, the CRC Elite team, and the Columbus community at large.
Stepping to the line this past weekend, I felt all of those emotions. Even though I’ve stepped up to race 800 meters 58 times before, this weekend required some serious guts. I was going outside the realm of what I considered “normal” for four years. Additionally, I was battling sickness for three weeks leading up to racing that 800. I completed my first run without stopping for a coughing fit only three days prior to racing. Doubts of “Am-I-really-ready-to-race-after-missing time-for-sickness” wrestled with my “I-am-going-to-freaking-do-this-and-nothing-can-stop-me” confidence I have built up over the past 5 months of a new training regimen with Coach Myers.
It would have been easy to postpone racing. It would have been comfortable. It would have been safer. But I’m not interested in taking the easy route. I’m not interested in being comfortable. And I am definitely not interested in taking the safe route. Living easy, maintaining comfort, and choosing to play it safe result in average.
I’m not interested in being average.
I believe that I will never get anywhere in this sport or in life in general if I do not make the decision to press in, to take a step, and to move confidently forward regardless of my circumstances or my fears. Living and training this way requires a tremendous amount of faith and courage, but it is hugely rewarding. It starts with one step. It starts with getting on the line.
This weekend, I took that step. Despite outside circumstances of sickness. Despite my own fears and doubts. Despite being outside my comfort zone of collegiate track and field. I stepped up to the line. Leaning in, pressing forward, and moving on.
I ran my best 800 season opener by over 2 seconds. I was actually on pace to run my indoor PR until about 120 meters left (yikes… forgot about that 800 meter lactic acid… things got real messy real quick). If I hadn’t stepped up to that line, I would still be sitting in Columbus wondering when I was going to feel like myself again after sickness. I would still have the sentimental worry looming over me of racing my first 800 as a post collegiate athlete. And I still wouldn’t remember what lactic acid felt like the last 120 meters of an 800 (I joke… I know this feeling all too well).
But instead of waiting, I chose to step up now.
God doesn’t care about our circumstances, he cares about our hearts. He cares that we lean into Him as we venture into the unknown. He asks us to step up to the line in an act of faith while we trust Him with the rest. The Lord is so much more powerful than sickness. He is more eternal than temporary transitions. His plans are more perfect than the plans of any director of operations. And His love and care for us is more pure than any source of comfort here on this earth.
This weekend, I chose to press on. To lean in. To let the Lord meet me where I was at. I don’t think anyone is ever really ready to take that step. We just have to step up and go. Sitting around and waiting to feel ready is foolish. I choose to trust myself. I choose to trust my abilities. And most importantly, I choose to lean in and trust The Lord. Because He doesn’t call us to just step up when we feel like it.