I love running.
As you may know by now by reading my blog.
It’s a huge part of my life.
I never thought that something could even come close to it.
That once I was done running in college I’d never have that feeling again.
That nervous leg twitch on the starting line before a race.
The butterflies in my stomach.
The feeling of fire in my lungs tired from the race I just ran.
I thought it was all gone.
Until I started coaching.
Watching your athletes race is such a crazy experience.
You train with them, run with them, and put everything into what they do.
To have it all come down to a single race that you can’t help them with.
That they have to do all by themselves.
It’s so surreal.
I have the same feelings that I had when I was racing, when my kids are racing.
Now I know what my parents went through all those years.
Thinking back on the four and a half years of coaching I’ve done, cross country and track, there are two races that stand out to me.
Two races that gave me goosebumps.
Two races that made me so incredibly nervous but excited at the same time.
Two races that made me remember why I love coaching.
The first race was during the track season of 2016.
I got to coach Adolfo for 3 years.
He struggled quite a bit the first two years to really find himself.
To hit those times that he knew he could hit.
He ended up running a seasons best of 11:28 in the 3000 meter run his freshman year, and didn’t even do the event his sophomore year.
Junior year he started to show progress and ran a 10:46 in the 3000.
Yet he still wasn’t happy.
He trained all summer and had a great cross country season in the fall, all to make sure he had an even better track season.
We were at the Stayton Twilight track meet, and the 3000 was going to be run in the dark under the stadium lights.
It was the best race.
Throughout the season he had run a 10:47 and 10:23 in the 3000, he was ready for a breakthrough.
He started off the race so strong and so tough.
He kept his eyes up and on every runner in front of him, knowing what he had to do to improve.
The last 600 meters were my favorite.
Cheering so loud for him, telling him that he was having a great race.
When he approached the final 100 meters I looked up at the clock.
I remember being in shock.
He was so close to breaking 10 minutes.
I remember sprinting down to the finish line with a bunch of other kids screaming as loud as we could.
He didn’t quite break 10 minutes but he ran a 10:00.14.
He was so close.
But he was happy, and proud of himself, and I don’t think he stopped smiling.
Even thinking about it now brings back chills.
Seeing that moment in an athlete when things finally click.
When they finally believe that they can do what you’ve been telling them they could do all along.
My second favorite race was during this most recent cross country season.
Ramiro, who’s only a sophomore, had been training so hard all summer.
All of us coaches knew that he was going to have a special season.
His freshman year he ran a personal best of 19:35 in the 5k, but never broke the 20 minute mark again after that.
We could all tell that he had more in him, he just had to figure it out.
This last season was crazy for him.
He started with a 20:45 which would have been one of his faster times from the year before.
And then he got faster.
And of course, the one meet that I had to miss, he ran a 17:58.
Breaking the 18 minute mark is huge.
And he did it.
I talked to him on the phone after his race and told him that since I wasn’t there he had to do it again, he agreed.
The next meet he ran a 17:57.
Ramiro kept improving.
It was insane.
Watching it all click for him, and watching him get excited to race, was so much fun as a coach to see.
His last meet of the season was the district cross country meet.
He told us before the race he didn’t want to know his place or time throughout the race.
So we all cheered as loud as we could when he passed us.
He looked strong, focused, and motivated.
We realized as he passed us, that he was in a state qualifying position.
We all looked at each other in complete shock.
I remember telling everyone that I had goosebumps.
Even though he might not have finished in the position he wanted, he ended up running better than he was ranked, he finished 14th.
And he ran a 17:23, which was a personal record.
It was the coolest thing.
Watching him run.
Watching it click to him.
Watching him in control of his race.
Deciding to coach is probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Coaching gave me a purpose.
Coaching motivates me to be a better person.
Coaching is the most rewarding thing.
I can’t imagine my life without it.
So cheers to more amazing races to come.
Cheers to being so nervous that I can’t even think straight.
Man, I love coaching.