Part 3, The Finale. Some of my most incredible experiences occurred over the past two years, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds. Running is such a simple, yet incredibly mind-blowing sport. The body and mind are tested to their limits, and many athletes achieve times that they never believed was possible. It may take months, or years, or even decades to reach your desired goals, but keep working, the results will be so so rewarding!
I spent the summer of 2018 running miles and miles, nearly collapsing and throwing up in the Spanish summer heat as I ran with the older men. I didn’t know much about running, I just knew that I needed to run many miles to get better and I needed to start off fast to win.
In December of 2018 I ran my first track race, 600m in 1:45. I didn’t know what a good time was back then, I didn’t own any spikes and I thought the indoor track was incredible. I then started properly competing in January of 2019, running a 3000m in 10:58 and a 1000m in 3:03.
In March, after coming second in my regional meet, I went to my first Spanish Nationals in Barcelona. I was nervous. I wanted a medal, but I zoned out the competition. I didn’t know any of my competitors and they didn’t know me. I was the underdog once again. I was running the 1000m and I finished my heat with a new PB and a place in the final with a chance to place on the podium, I couldn’t believe it…
The race was the next day, the last of the day. The crowd were impatient, wanting the day to be over and I felt the buzz as I stepped out onto the track. I was very nervous. The gun went and the girls shot off. I can’t remember the rest of the race because it was kind of a blur. It felt like I was outside of my body, watching the race from above, like a spectator. I finished the race 7th in Spain; relatively pleased but mostly disappointed, which now seems crazy given how naive I was to the sport and its competition.
Forward a year, and I’m at the u18 Nationals in Valencia. I ran the semis and I’m not really sure what happened. My parents and my coach told me to lead from the front, I had always stuck to that technique, but what I had noticed recently was that I didn’t want people to take me over at the end. I wanted to finish the race feeling good and strong, not weak with people passing me. Thinking about it now, I didn’t want to accept that it was going to hurt. The week before, I had run an 800m from the front and it had hurt so much, and I only finished with a time of 2:20. I knew that I didn’t want to feel that type of pain again, so I thought I would stick in the pack, let someone else lead, and then finish strong and get a place in the final.
The race definitely did not pan out that way.
I started off strong, first in the pack. I knew that someone had a time of 2:13 (my time was 2:17), so I thought they would lead from the front. However, before I could register, about five girls were cutting in front of me. I tried to stay calm but I knew the race wasn’t going according to plan. I counted the amount of girls in front of me, and knew I was last in the pack (not what I had intended to do). Before I knew it, the bell lap had gone and I sprinted in front of the pack to finish in 2nd, with no Pb and a time of 2:19 (absolutely tragic, I know). I remember not feeling too bad when I finished, but the minute I saw my mum, I knew I had totally messed up. All the months of training and the times when I had thrown up came flooding back to mind, and I ran outside the stadium crying. I was frustrated with myself. I saw myself as a failure, because I had done so much, my family had done so much for me, and I got a worse result than the year before, coming 11th in Spain.
I suppose I learnt a lot of lessons from that race, more than I can realise. I know that I need to focus on the mental side of the sport, not just the physical, that I need to stick to my technique of racing from the front because it is obviously going to hurt by the end of the race, and I need to learn to stop comparing myself to other people and only focus on myself and my improvements.
But, I am learning and growing as a person each day and this is what the sport is all about.
This quarantine has definitely made me realise how much I miss the competitive aspect of racing: the crowds, the track, the adrenalin rush… But, we will be able to compete very very soon!
More Blogs coming soon. Thank you again for reading!!!
“Everyday is a perfect day to improve and grow.” – Deena Kastor’s Biography (a definite recommendation!)
Lots of Love,