Many of you probably know that I ran track in high school.
Simply put, I was not the fastest nor did I have the fairytale of seasons throughout those three years.
While it took me a long time to accept the fact that I would never be the best, I finally accepted this after a couple of years. Before, it was always about proving myself to someone. I was always out proving that I could run in the fast heat, train with the sprinters, or even qualify for OFSAA on my own. Because I felt that everyone else on my team was better than me, I felt that I had to prove to my coach and my teammates that I was just as good.
But this is probably what I would say is one of my biggest insecurities. Whenever I am given the chance to make it big somewhere, I choke. I end up performing badly and the results become devastating.
In Grade 9, I decided not to run track because I was told it was too difficult. Knowing me, I choked and played flag football instead. While flag football had its fun moments, I was a bench warmer for many games because I was inexperienced and in Grade 9. I didn't like that at all, so I decided to look at Track as a option for next year.
As Grade 10 rolled around, cross country season came and finished. It was a disappointing season for me and I felt that I needed to redeem myself from my disappointments. So then, I decided to join the track team. (Okay, well to be honest, I also joined the track team to get closer with a boy...but I guess that is another story...)
Again, simply put, I was not the fastest nor did anyone really know what kind of runner I was. While everyone else was either sprinting or doing super long distance workouts, I ended up running both.
First, I trained with the sprinters during the indoor season. While I kept up for while, it was clear that they were too talented and too fast for me. And I'm not saying this because I have no faith in myself. I was training with runners who went on to win the 4x100m relay title at the OFSAA championships that year.
When outdoor season rolled around, I ended up running distance workouts in hopes to develop me into something other than a sprinter.
(By the end of the season, I ended up running 60m, 200m, 400m, 800m, and 1500m. You tell me if that's confusing for a runner...)
(Grade 10 me running my best 400m race that season)
Being switched back and forth and not knowing what type of runner I was, I felt frustrated. I felt untalented, under-appreciated, and eventually, I wanted to quit the team because I felt useless. Never did I come Top 10 in my races ever. Never did I really get that much closer to the boy I liked... And to make it even better, never did I ever get the relay exchanges right. It was crappy, to say the least.
During my first high school track season, I spent a lot of time feeling sorry and frustrated with myself. I know it's just a sport, but seeing everyone else excel, I wanted to too. During the season, my sister and the other sprinters were off in Pennsylvania for the Penn Relays. Being me, I was both angry and jealous for not being fast enough or good enough to get such a privilege. Instead, I was stuck in Toronto, wallowing in units and being entered in my first 1500m race for the following weekend...something I was not too excited about at all. I would say at this point, this was my lowest point that season.
As embarrassing as this is, I remember bursting into tears as I told Ms. Masterson how scared I was of running the race. I felt slow, and there was NO WAY I was able to keep up with everyone. Not only that, the TDCAA's were three weeks away and there was no way I was ready to make this huge turnaround.
But when race day came, I actually ended up doing pretty good! Thinking that I would come in dead last, I didn't. Instead, I ended up running 10 seconds faster than my seed with more energy to spare. To be honest, I even feel like I should have ran in the fast heat.
(Winning a slow heat in Grade 10. Also known as my worst time EVER!)
Soon after the race, I ended up having a conversation with my coach where he told me that I was best being a middle distance runner. For the next meet, he wanted me to try the 800m.
Little did I know, that race soon became my best event. Not only did I beat my seed time by a lot that day, I also ran the relay with my team...and won. (Yay for not screwing up!!)
But as the TDCAA's rolled around (Metro meet qualifier that qualifies us for OFSAA), I was a sub in the relay because I was not fast enough. As disappointing as that was for me, I decided to focus on my individual races. Again, I thought I would do terribly. If you know me by now, you can probably tell that I have confidence issues.
But again, I surprised myself. Not only did I qualify for all my races, I ended up winning my first individual medal in the 800m with a new school record! (Not a lot of people know that I broke this record, but to me, it is a personal victory.)
But when Metros,came around, to keep this story short, I didn't qualify for OFSAA. To be exact, I actually missed it by one spot in the 800m. Not only that, I was put in the slow heats, and I didn't personal best at all. Getting so far in what I would call a tumultuous season, I was devastated. After that night of the Athletic Banquet, I remember crying for an hour, because I didn't achieve my goals.
So the next day, I started new. I started running and running every day. Not track workouts. Just running and cross-training distances at 3km-5km. I felt that if I wanted to make OFSAA, I would have to at least do something.
And by Grade 11, I started to see the improvements. I didn't make it to OFSAA for Cross Country, but I ended up coming in Top 20...something I've never done before. And by the time it was track season, I was pumped to redeem myself.
School and track ended up being my life in Grade 11. With the exception of a table tennis tournament because I wanted to go to meet a boy (I'd like to say that I did a lot of stupid, stupid things for boys in high school...), track and school was all I did in Grade 11.
Sure, I got behind in school, but the results were worth it. From 66s in my 400m (I know that is slow...), I was running 62s, 61s. In the 800m, I was hitting the high 2:20s area. Everything was beginning to look up.
I PB'ed in every race I entered. At TDs, I medaled in every race, and with that, I was qualified to run four races at the Metro Championships (the city final). To say the least, I was thinking that I actually had a shot at making it to OFSAA. And out of everyone on the team, I felt that I had improved the most.
But knowing me and the Metro championships, we are not good friends. I failed to do well in every race I was qualified for. I choked once again..and, yes, you guessed it. I was devastated. I missed OFSAA again by one-two spots.
(4x400m relay in Grade 11)
But a week later, there was a light in the tunnel!! The 4x400m relay qualified for OFSAA because of a disqualification! And so, I was off to my first and only OFSAA championship and I was delighted. (To be honest, I don't really count this as making it to OFSAA, because I didn't qualify on my own...but hey, at least I got to run!)
But seeing how the track season ended on a happy note, I was actually kind of anticipating a MOST IMPROVED AWARD that year at the Athletic Banquet. And again, I was left disappointed because I didn't get it. Inside, I felt mortified and angry at myself because I knew that if I tried THAT much harder, I would have probably made it to OFSAA on my own. And as happy I was for my friends who won awards, I found the banquet very hard to enjoy.
I remember the look Johnny gave me before the coach was going to announce the award winners, hinting that I probably would get something. And as much as people are going to tease me about believing anything Johnny says, I believed him because I thought it was true.
But it was not and I felt like a failure.
And so again, I decided that Grade 12 was going to be my year. But of course, it didn't end up that way. I was so concerned about getting into Journalism school that I skipped so many practices honing my portfolio and getting 90s in all my assignments.
For the most part, practices were decent. But at the meets, I didn't PB at all. In fact, I ran so much slower than the previous year. I swear Grade 12 burnt me out and track wasn't a priority anymore. To this day, I regret the many times I skipped practice for school...even though I knew it was right.
Nonetheless, I did qualify for Metros. But again, I messed up in my individual race and missed OFSAA by two spots for the 4x400m relay. This time, I don't really blame my lack of confidence. Instead, I blamed fatigue gathered from long nights of ISPs and assignments from the whole year.
While I was glad track was over so I could finish school and graduate, it was bittersweet for me. Being able to run my best time of the season (on par from my Grade 11 times) for my last race, I felt both satisfied and sad. Satisfied because I knew I could run that time, and sad because I never really achieved my goal in making it to OFSAA.
So here I am now. Reflecting back on what could have been and how far I've come. There are still times that I feel under-appreciated and disappointed for my efforts and my goals, but as life moves on...there are other talents to be discovered.
The reason I wrote all of this was to get all my thoughts and feelings out in the open, so I can move on and do other things. While I don't regret many things from high school, I would love to redo my track seasons and compete as a smarter person.
As well, I miss my team, coach, family and all the friends I made at those track meets. How I miss the laughs and the support system we had for each other. It only made the tough workouts much better.
And thus, I want to regain the motivation I once had.
Being in university has made me feel so inactive and I want to get involved in sports once again. Though this time, I have accepted that I am not here to prove anything to anyone other than myself.
By proving that I can do the unthinkable, I am signing up for a road race by the end of the summer. Maybe two, if I'm lucky. I want to try running a half-marathon to prove that I am physically fit enough to run the distance.
But as for now, talk is cheap. I will update you later on my progress and improvements.
Thanks for reading.
(Us and our convict track suits)