That time I got nervous..

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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.

19:38.

18:41.

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.

 

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Just like that..

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It’s over.

My coaching role is over for the season.

We still have 10 kids going to the state meet, and that in itself is so fantastic.

Our team cheer, the hurdle kids getting directions for the day, our drills.

They go into storage until next year.

This was my fourth season coaching and by far my favorite season.

I’ve seen some great kids come through, don’t get me wrong.

My first season coaching was when our best 800 boy finally broke 2:00, won the district title, and got 4th in state.

That same year we took such a hard working girl to state in the 3000.

The year after that my dad became the head coach, and coaching with him is my favorite thing ever.

Last year one of my favorite people got 5th in state for Long Jump and my dad won his first co-coach of the year award for our league.

Those all seem so hard to beat.

But this year wins in a landslide.

I did not work with the distance kids a single day this year, it was hard at first I’m not going to lie. The thought of working with new kids who didn’t know me and who I hadn’t already established a relationship with was scary. I had worked with those kids for the last three years and distance running was something that I knew like the back of my hand.

I worked with hurdles last year with my dad, but it really consisted of hurdling 3 days a week for 30 minutes or so a day.

On the first day of practice this year I had twelve kids come in my direction when we split them off into disciplines. I was a little intimidated.

I remember sending them off for a ten minute warm up, something absurd to a few of them, and sending a snapchat to my best friend telling her I was nervous.

After a “you’ve got this coach” snapchat back, I proceeded to drills and the first workout of the year.

We ended the season with eleven consistent hurdles.

That was seven more than our best last year.

ELEVEN TOTAL HURDLERS.

That was insane to me and it still is.

Eleven kids that believed in hurdles and what we were doing. That trusted me. That worked hard every day at practice, some days harder than others.

We had our ups and downs.

I teased them whenever they did something worthy of being teased.

(You know who you are)

They got note cards before every race, and bright yellow “McKay Hurdle Crew” shirts.

Because I was so proud to call them our hurdlers.

It felt weird yesterday going to the track to watch the state athletes practice and not have the hurdlers asking what the workout was that day. I miss it all so much. I know it will come around again next year, and if I’m lucky some of them will come out for winter conditioning (hint hint) and we can start working earlier.

I just miss it.

Plain and simple.

Coaching is a huge part of me and I hate the off season.

I wanted to write this as a reflection of the season and as a thank you to the eleven kids who dedicated so many hours to our team and hurdles.

So thanks guys.

Thank you for taking a risk and trying an event that so many people find intimidating.

Thank you for always giving me something to laugh about.

Thank you for teaching me so many valuable things that I will use on and off of the track.

I remember the day that running collegiately ended for me.

Before my race I was so emotional, they played the national anthem and I cried.

Thinking..

This is it.

This is the last time I’ll ever get nervous listening to the national anthem.

The last time my foot will shake on the starting line.

The race didn’t go how I wanted, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great.

I remember standing along the fence with my dad after my race.

We were both quiet, staring at the races in front of us.

He said, “So that’s it.”

I replied with “yup.”

And that was it.

The last time my dad and I would talk about a race or strategize over what to do next.

But it wasn’t.

It wasn’t the last time.

I get so nervous when my kids are about to run, I feel like all I want to do is stand there with them and push them along.

My dad and I still strategize and talk about anything and everything related to track but this time it isn’t about me.

And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

How many people get to coach an amazing group of kids alongside their dad?

Ok some, but none as cool as my dad.

Coaching gives me that feeling that I never thought I’d have again. That nervous feeling that I never thought I would take for granted.

I am so incredibly thankful I have the opportunity to coach and that I have a wonderful mother who watches my son. It allows me to keep my love for running alive.

This season was my favorite, hands down. We had hurdlers with PR’s left and right, sprinters making it to state, distance runners with some amazing races, and throwers getting better every single day. I love that team and I am thankful every day for it, but I am especially thankful for the hurdlers and what they did for me this season.