“Don’t start too fast. You are going to do fine. You got this.” These thoughts were going through my head on November 18, 2012 as I stood on the start line at the famous Mount Sac course in Southern California. If I placed in the top 20 of this race, I would qualify for my 10th USATF National competition. I was on edge for two reasons. First, I did not expect there to be so many competitors. I was very surprised when I saw that there were 30 girls on the line. Second, I had competed with my high school team at the CIF San Diego Section Finals the day before, closing out my high school season. Having raced 24 hours before, I was beat. But despite these concerns, I knew that this was the day that I had to put it all on the line.
Mount Sac is famous for its killer hills, which are extremely steep and narrow. But, due to rain, the course was changed to a flat course around the parking lot. I knew it would be fast. As anticipated, the start was crazy fast as these talented high school runners took off. My strategy has always been not to start fast, but to keep a steady pace so that I would have the energy to pass my competitors later in the race. But this fast start rattled my nerves. Settling into a steady pace was a challenge, but I eventually managed to do it. My parents and siblings were positioned along the course to tell me my place throughout the race. For most of the race, I was not in the position I needed. But slowly I moved forward 26th, 23rd, 21st… The last mile was crucial to my success and I needed to really push myself, motivated by my commitment to attend the USATF Nationals. I raced harder harder than I knew was possible, both my body and mind screaming for relief. Ultimately, I finished 17th place, less than 10 seconds away from not qualifying for the National competition. I was completely surprised when I looked down at my watch to see my time for the 5k race was 19:16, which was a PR of about 2 minutes. I had run at a pace of exactly one minute faster per mile than I had at CIF the day before.
Now I wouldn’t count on having a PR by 2 minutes every time you run an important race. My success was due in great measure to the time I spent preparing, training and focusing. But I can say that when we put it all on the line, great feats can be accomplished. Because I run, I know that when we put it all on the line, we will be greatly rewarded and have unimaginable success. As Marc Davis, the famous American middle distance runner, said, “All it takes is all you got.”