Wednesday, November 4, 2009

It's Time...

A Penn State Running Picture from an article Back in the Day
Every year at the beginning of the Penn State Cross-Country season our team would take time to decide what this year would represent to us. The t-shirt design would beckon that year's slogan, and all of our efforts would be rallied around upholding the attitude, message, and spirit of that particular saying.

My junior year of eligibility was a tough year. We had just lost some great seniors, and some of us were feeling a bit down after working extremely hard the previous years without seeing much fruit from our labors. We were an underdog (and that is an understatement), who had basically built our team from the ground up with the majority of the team as non-recruited walk-ons, like myself. We didn't have much to show for ourselves at that point, and certainly no one expected anything from us at the Big Ten level, let alone at our regional championships. My coach believed in us in a way I had yet to experience in my athletic career. She suggested a team saying that became the slogan for that year that really hit home with all of us (and really for me personally as well at different times in my life).

You may wonder what the heck I'm talking about.. It's time?? What kind of saying is that?! To us that year it was something like, "it's time to stop being down on ourselves, it's OUR time to make something of this team and really do things that people think we can't or won't, and it's time for us to come together and have our day." It didn't matter if one other person who saw that shirt knew what we were talking about, we knew.

That season, although we made some improvements, wasn't "our time." However, we did our best, and we learned so much. We began to build what I like to think as the basis for what has become one of the best teams in the collegiate cross country field at the present time. This past Saturday, Penn State Cross County proved it wasn't just one of the best - it WAS the best of the Big Ten Conference. Let me tell you, the Big Ten Conference is no joke. To win that title is a huge deal and these girls went out and ran their heart out for one another to make history. What was once a team of misfits, is now a Championship Team of all out extraordinary athletes (thanks to their dedication and to my awesome Coach - Coach Sullivan). I've been privileged to have some amazing coaches during my running career, two in particular. Coach Sullivan was the first person to believe in me so strongly that she MADE me into the athlete I became throughout my years at Penn State. From a timid walk-on, to a team captain, she molded me and built my self-confidence that lives on with me today any time I toe the line.

Congrats PSU CC team. That is quite an accomplishment and all of your alumni are SO proud of you!!!

So, seems to me "It's Time..." once again. Just like the humble beginnings I came from that season, this season has been quite the experience. I can't say it was one of my best, but I certainly have worked harder at overcoming obstacles than I ever have before. That, I can honestly say, is what I am most proud of right now.

Now, it's time to see what all this training is about. It's time to prepare and execute to the best of my ability. I wanted to get my running back late in the year - I have. I wanted to take my cycling up a notch these last few months so I could get off the bike and have the run I know I am capable of producing - I also have. I wanted to go into this race feeling confident in my coaches, training and in the best shape of my entire season - I am. So, here goes. This next week is about checking all the equipment, visualization and just doing exactly what it says on my taper (which does feel like a taper with a 2.5 hour ride, 2000 swim, & 35 min run today - geezzz coach!). I do what they say, it works, and I do it.

Congrats also to another simply extraordinary women - Chrissy Wellington who was just named the 2009 Women's Athlete of the Year. She really deserves it, and is both a wonderful person and athlete. Good for her!

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