Today I have the awesome opportunity to race with the Elite field in the TC 1 mile. I will be lining up with many well-respected athletes that I know will challenge me to be the best racer I can be.
I am currently coaching the distance girls at St. Louis Park High School. I absolutely love it. It has broadened my appreciation of the sport and reminded me of what made me fall in love with it- I found a chance to be a part of an awesome community, a chance learn how to push myself beyond boundaries I never thought could be broken, and a chance to face my fears of failure as I stepped to the line and thought that my time and place would reveal it all! I think every athlete should have the opportunity to serve as a coach because it has helped me return to the foundation of the sport and helped me strip away the emotion and fear of it. I have many athletes that are incredibly anxious before a race because they are afraid of looking stupid next to those that are racing them, or they are afraid they may not reach their goal time. I can certainly relate to all of these emotions! As a coach, I tell them, “All that is expected of you is to step to the line and to do your best.” It sounds so simple, but it is truly incredible to watch the girls, that I have come to care so much about, set aside their fears, and run with more confidence each race as they get caught up in competing. Last night St. Louis Park raced at the True Team Sectional meet. The girls came to me and were fretting over the fact that some of the girls in their race were WAY faster than them and I reminded them that the awesome part about track and field is it is an opportunity to look for improvement and when you step to the line with faster racers, you know that they will bring out the best in you. I told them that today I was racing against women that I felt a healthy respect for and I promised them that I would, just as they did last night. (we had a ton of PRs last night!)
Throughout the season some athletes are elated and are were disappointed about their times, but I tell them no matter the result, we set a marker with each performance. You can’t look behind to your past times and you can’t think you need to be way ahead of your performance, but you need to place your marker at the point you are at and celebrate each tiny mark of progress or opportunity for growth. I share this because I recently ran a PR at the Drake relays. I ran a 16:24. In reflection, I realized that if I ran this time last year, I would have been really bummed because I wanted to run in the low 16’s. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to do that, but I am learning that racing, for the most part, is about gradually making progress and celebrating each little step forward, so that you can also look back and remember where you came from.
The Israelites marked their progress too! When they were carrying the Arc of the Covenant, God commanded that they cross the turbulent waters of the Jordan River. The story is recounted in Joshua 3-4. They had to have the courage to step into the river with the Arc before it was dried and believe that God would go before them and it up so they could cross. I can’t imagine those first few steps. They had the courage to trust God and he showed up in a big way!!! The river was dried and they were able to cross. Joshua had 12 men pick up a stone from the dry riverbed of the Jordan as they were crossing so they could make a memorial with the stones so that the people of Israel would remember how God showed up forever. “…Did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” Josh 4:24. Throughout much of the Old Testament we see altars, pillars, and stones set out marking occasions that they didn’t want forgotten and that pointed to God working in their lives. I can’t find evidence that the Israelites built a monument after crossing the Red Sea in their Exodus from Egypt, but I know they were led by a pillar of God. They had no idea what was to come, but they praised God for where he was carrying them and marched forward. Right after they crossed the Sea, Moses tells the people, “ Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring to you today… The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Ex. 14:13-14.
Today, I plan to step to the line with a gratitude that I get to race with women that will help me to run faster than I ever have, and a fierce drive to compete with them! My race will be my altar to the Lord and I will mark my performance as a time that God showed up and I will celebrate each step forward!
“ Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring to you today… The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”