Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
This past spring track season was probably the most successful track season of my life.
That statement may seem silly to most people who know what I accomplished in my previous two spring track seasons, but the key to understanding my logic is knowing the definition of success that I’m applying. I always have been and always will be a goal-oriented person. As much as I have worked over the years to appreciate the process, when it comes down to it, the factor that weighs heaviest in my mind when I am defining my own success is still whether or not I achieved my goals. Did I do the things I told myself, the things I promised myself, I would do? This spring, I didn’t win any races. I didn’t set any PRs. I didn’t qualify for USAs. But I did, in fact, do the things I set out to do three months ago when I decided I wanted to return to the world of competitive distance running.
My ability to define this past season as a success begins with appreciating that the last year of my life has been a complete and utter whirlwind. In the last roughly 360 days I experienced the following major life events: I graduated from undergrad. I ended my collegiate running career. I said goodbye to the friends and teammates I had spent the last 4 years with. I began living alone for the first time in my life. My boyfriend and best friend John moved 6 hours away from me. I started grad school. I started the job hunt. I had my quarter-life crisis. I had my car towed for the first time. I started calling adults by their first name. I went out for drinks with my professor and labmates. I went on my first real interview. I got my first real job! I graduated from grad school. I went on a much needed cruise with my mother to the Caribbean. I moved to a new city. I started my real job. I experienced the Boston winter of ’15. I got my first 4 digit paycheck. I spent most of it on bills. I spent the rest repaying student loans. I began my post-collegiate career. I went on my first business trip. John and I moved in together. I joined a new team. I won $150 from a race and officially became a semi-professional runner. I finally caved and started a blog.
When it’s all written out like that, even I, with my determination and stubbornness and refusal to acknowledge when I’m in over my head, must admit that it is a lot for one person to handle in a single year.
When my coach, Arthur Smith, and I sat down in March at a Dunkin’ Donuts across from the BU track where ECAC’s was being held, my first instinct was to start blabbing about the times I wanted to hit and the races I wanted to qualify for. But Arthur was quick to pull in the reins, something he had to do many times throughout my Cornell career. If this was going to work, if I was going to be able to make the transition to post-collegiate running, I needed to change my thinking. I needed to appreciate everything that I had been through. I needed to accept that things were going to be different. For the first time in my career, the goal was not to set PRs. The goal wasn’t even to run fast. And, to my initial horror, the goal was not to make USAs, something I had previously considered an absolute must. The ultimate goal, the one upon which everything hinged, was to find balance – balance in running, balance in life.
I will admit there were several times throughout the season where I started to lose sight of that goal and starting letting my excitement and imagination get the best of me, but thankfully Arthur and John and my family helped steer me back to the right path. And so with balance as the guiding light, the following goals were devised:
Goal #1: Develop a training plan that fits with a full-time job.
Goal #2: Understand that sometimes, less is more.
Goal #3: Relax.
They looked nothing like the goals I had set for myself throughout high school and college. They weren’t the kind of goals I could write out on pieces of paper and pin to my walls. They couldn’t be measured in seconds or minutes or meters or miles.
They weren’t the goals I necessarily wanted for myself heading into the season, but they were the ones I needed.