My last blog post was about a great race that I ran several years ago. I’d like to tell another story about a race I ran where my finish wasn't exactly where I wanted it to be. In 2006, I ran the USATF Cross Country National Competition in Spokane, Washington. I had hoped to place in the top 25 in my age division, earning the title of “All-American.” It was my fourth and final year competing in the bantam girls age division (ages 10 and under), which gave me the advantage of age and experience. In 2005, I had finished in 53rd place and had placed second as a team. My 2006 season had been great and based on my training, I knew that I could get top 25! In an effort to help me accomplish my goal of All-American, my coaches and parents called out my position during the race. 40th, 37th, 32nd. With a quarter mile left in the race, I knew my position was somewhere around 25 but I wasn't sure if I had made the top 25 or not. When the results were posted, I saw that I had finished the race in 27th place, 2 places away from my goal.
Things are not always going to go our way. Even if we put in hard work, we will not always finish in the position we want or with the time we want. There are many obstacles that come along with running cross country such as injuries, mental fatigue, illness, or not eating properly before a race, all contributing to our performance. Learning to deal with disappointment will not only help us to be better runners, but will impact other areas of our lives. Disappointment in my racing career has prepared me for other disappointments. For example, I have taken some difficult classes in high school and college. Even if I spend hours studying and doing homework, I sometimes cannot perform at the level that I hope for or get the grade that I want.
Running has helped me learn that even when we are prepared and try our hardest, disappointment will come. However, as runners, we must always remember that tomorrow is a new opportunity. We must remember to not give up just because we had a hard practice or a hard race. As Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard...is what makes it great!” Because I run, I have learned how to deal with disappointments and I know that if we keep our eyes on the finish line, we will be successful not only in running but in all aspects of our lives.
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