my history with the 800m run

race
she stood
bouncing steadily
the wide eyes darting
back and forth
back and forth
waiting for the race
the moment of glory:
sighing with the pound
gun shot through
the wide eyes distanced
striding steadily
forward and forward
faster and faster
she ran

2013

I wrote this poem nearly four years ago, back when I first decided that I was going to run. The outdoor track season had just started and I found myself slow and impatient. I was ready to run, and I wanted to run fast. And after running the 800m during a track meet, I decided that it would be my main event for the season.

What I know now (and what I didn’t know then) is that the 800m is more than just glorified tenacity of a willingness to run fast for two laps. And I am just now beginning to understand that the 800m requires an extraordinary amount of guts, sheer speed, and skill.

My first season of track, I made it my goal to break three minutes in the 8. So I willed myself to PR each race and eventually broke the three minute barrier. Did I put in effort to break three minutes? Definitely- I was coming off of a tendon injury and a stress fracture. But I always felt like I had more to give at the end of each race. I felt good. I felt like I could keep running and running.

I was frustrated. I was frustrated the next year, too, when my time stood still in the 2:50s and the year after that when I squeaked out a 2:49. It felt too easy, and it felt like I was doing something wrong. I was definitely not doing something right.

My training had not changed much since my first year of running, and neither had my mindset. I was stuck like a metronome at 60 beats per minute, and I had nothing but a readiness to run fast and a tendency to run slow. I had no concept that I could really get better, crank up my internal metronome, and actually run fast(er).

The summer before my senior year of high school, I decided that I was done waiting for the race to find its way to me- I decided that I was actually going to run faster and faster. And I was not only willing, but I was actually going to do whatever it took to get there.

I went over to the high school near my house that summer and ran with their cross country team. And I told myself that I was going to run. So I did. And it was hard.

I was running much further than I had ever run before. And I was busting my behind running much faster than I had ever run before too. One week I ran forty miles. This was so much more than I was accustomed to! My metronome was on turbo at 100 bpm and I was happy that I had finally started to get better.

The outdoor track season began again and I found myself faster and decidedly tenacious. I was ready to work, and I was ready to run fast. I began dropping time- 2:48, 2:44, 2:35, 2:28.

I was now a minute faster than when I had started.

And this is just where my new race begins. This year I continue to work harder, get better, learn, and practice different aspects of running that I never knew were important. The 800m may or may not turn out to be my focus during the track season, but at least I know that I have the guts to try and run a fast(er) race. And this time, I’m more than willing to put the hard work in.

running the mile last indoor track season!
running the mile last indoor track season!

 

Honey, high school was not the jam to my peanut butter.

high school graduation
High school graduation!

I was very excited to graduate from high school. Incredibly excited. Ecstatic. So excited that I didn’t even cry at graduation.

Okay. That sounds bad. But high school wasn’t the jam to my peanut butter (I like honey way more).

That’s not to say that high school was equivalent to sitting at the dentist or waiting in line at the DMV, though. For one thing, I learned that I love to run, and read, and write, and think, and make music, and ask ridiculous questions (more on these things later). I also figured out some of my strengths (and a lot of my weaknesses). High school was not a lot of sitting and waiting. High school was a lot of figuring out who I was and how I do me best (and worst).

Was it a tasty sandwich? No. Was it a tiny bit scarier than encountering a rattlesnake and more unpredictable than radioactive decay? Maybe. Did I ever break down and give up? You bet.

High school wasn’t exactly fun for me, but in truth, that was probably a good thing. I now know how to eat un-tasty sandwiches and how to encounter snakes without freaking out, for instance. I now also know what it feels like to break down and give up (and then un-give up and keep going).

And I now know that the keep going element is key to pursuing everything that I love. Insurmountable writer’s block? Keep writing. Mile repeats? Keep running (I promise, they get easier with practice)! Can’t figure out the funky shift in that etude? Practice it! High school gave me a lot of practice with the break-down-and-then-give-up-at-a-task-and-then-figure-it-out-and-keep-going.

Yeah, I’m not a big fan of jam with my peanut butter. But man, if I had never even learned how to make and eat the high school sandwich, what about the next one? Honey, high school was not the jam to my peanut butter, and that’s okay. Because now I know how to make a peanut butter and honey sandwich.* And that’s pretty rad. Because tasty sandwiches are awesome, and my gap year’s shaping up to be pretty awesome too!

honey and peanut butter!
honey and peanut butter!

*the sandwich being a metaphor for the break-down…-and-then-figure-it-out-and-keep-going life thing.