It's Only 4-1/2 months of my life…
Wow, I don’t even know where to start since so much has happened lately. I guess I will start by saying that I had been planning to return to school and keep my resolution to finish everything I start (and not start things that I may not want to finish) and had registered for classes in Orange County at a junior college with only two classes needed to complete my AA. My plans following this completion would be to go back to the university and focus on what I really love: athletics.
Surf City Marathon was less than a month away and I began having serious talks with my coach Sylvia. I remember her being really honest with me and asking me to ask myself if I was ready. We began these talks after I began to get frustrated with injuries that seem to haunt me during marathon training. One particular conversation left me sad for an entire day, she said that maybe we should even consider focusing on shorter distances including the 5,000m or 10,000 for the upcoming track season. Although I had been talking about running track after Surf City, I was in a bad place that day and I just kinda blurted out, “I am too slow to run a 5k or 10k, I am only decent at the marathon!” Boy, did that make her frustrated, considering I just had a pretty good summer season of 5ks and even nearly breaking 18:00 at Cypress. It was her next few sentences that made me rethink everything, especially when she said, “this marathon is controlling your life.” Wow, she was right in a way. All I could ever see or appreciate was the damn marathon. I wanted to (and still do) want to break 3:00:00 so badly that I simply put on my blinders to any other running competitions. How ridiculous…I love running and running was becoming my worst enemy.
A few days later while I was picking up some things at a random place in Fullerton, a gentlemen came up to me and asked which events I run. I was wearing a USA T&F backpack that my therapist had given me after returning from the Pan American Games. I simply responded, “10,000m and 5,000m but I am about to run a marathon in less than a month and haven’t competed in track since Bakersfield College (BC) back in 1999.” We exchanged a few words and I gave him my card and found out he was the head throw coach at Cerritos College. A few days later I was contacted by the head distance coach John Gold Goldman at Cerritos College and he was interested in me joining the team for a season of track.
What?! Really? Me? I am 32 years old and I don’t even think I have any eligibility left since I red-shirted my freshman year at CSU, Sacramento (1997-98) and even ran XC and track at Bakersfield College. At this point I was really confused. School started at Cerritos nearly the next week and I was already set at the other school in Orange County. Long story short, all this started happening at the same time I was conversing with my coach about stepping back from the marathon to get in a good track season as an unattached runner, getting my ass kicked and gaining some really good experience and hopefully a few PRs. I thought long and hard over the weekend, my coach told me she would support me no matter what I decided but to think it through. Without a lot of time waste, I consulted with my close friends and boyfriend and the consensus was to go for it. I met with my potential new coach at the school, we had tracers ran on my transcripts and before I knew it, I was all cleared to run (kind of). Lucky for me, I was eligible simply for the fact that I only ran one season of track at BC and had somehow managed to complete an additional 24 units since my last season of competition over 10 years ago! Weird. Luck. Whatever!
The hardest part about making this decision quite honestly was leaving my coach. I feel like I learned so much from her and we figured out how to work like a team. I really grew as an athlete and a competitor and most importantly, found a new respect for the sport that I hold so dear. The easiest part however, was knowing that I was given another opportunity to complete something that I left behind so long ago. Seriously, who can honestly say that they have had another opportunity after such a long break? I did have my doubts and even called my new coach to tell him that I kind of felt like I was in shock, going to practice again with college athletes much (much, much) younger than me. I told him I wasn’t sure I was making the right decision and asked if I could think about it over the weekend to make sure. I also asked him, “What’s in it for me?” I mean really, why would I do this? He was really honest and told me that he wouldn’t go through all this to get me on the team if it wouldn’t benefit Cerritos as well and we agreed that the plan would be to get picked up for a Division II school (I don’t have any Division I eligibility left since I redshirted at a Division I school previously) which should be very possible if I could run like I had this past summer.
Finally, after committing, I was almost in when I failed my school physical due to a detected hear murmur. I told my boyfriend, this is all too coincidental — either I was called to run and get back in school, or I was called to find out about this so-called heart condition. A week later, after getting an EKG and Echocardiogram, and probably a good amount of money later (still waiting for the bills), I was finally given the green light and tomorrow will be my first race at Mt. Sac running the 5,000m. I really don’t feel race ready but it is still early in the season. My goals are simple: Break 18:00 in the 5,000m and try to run a 36:00 10,000m and hopefully go to the Stanford Invitational again and state finals!
When I start to get uncomfortable with my decision I just remind myself that I have the opportunity to finish what I started, I get to do what I love, and most of all, according to my new coach, “It’s only 4-1/2 months of (my) life.”
That’s right, it’s been nearly 12 years, what’s 4-1/2 months?
Tracy, I so excited to hear about this. It sounds like Sylvia has been a great mentor for you. She appears to have focused on more than just “Tracy the runner”. You have been very fortunate.
Additionally, you do not need to fear the “younger” girls. I went back to school when I was 31 it was easier to do things correctly. Observing the actions and decisions of the younger students, I realized that I had grown slightly wiser in those intervening years. In fact this may be your opportunity to pass some things on to these younger runners.
February 12, 2012 at 10:04 am