During my college years, I started to believe in talent for the first time, and I came to understand that some of my peers were more talented than I. I also began to understand that my delicate bones were made out of a material roughly as durable as porcelain, which led to a series of stress fractures and a deeply held belief that one step over fifty miles in a week would result in a glowing MRI. I was not a hot commodity.
I never made it to an NCAA Outdoor Championship. I tried desperately and failed, stringing together 13th and 14th place finishes in the West Regional 1500m (12 athletes qualify for NCAAs). Fate’s poor timing led me to finish all 236 episodes of Friends the same week I finished my collegiate outdoor track career, leading to my most notorious public meltdown. I planted myself on a stadium bleacher and repeatedly and aggressively sobbed to my parents, grandparents and teammates that “Everything. Is. Over!”
Remarkably, everything was not over. Sheer will allowed me to find moderate success during my final season of eligibility, where I finished as an All-American in the DMR and mile. I was not hotly recruited, but I felt ok shooting off a few emails and texts to professional coaches. These emails were met with lukewarm enthusiasm, except for one coach, Jonathan Marcus, who was convinced I was a diamond in the rough.
I knew I was a nice piece of cubic zirconia at best, but I went on a quasi-recruiting trip to Portland and instantly knew I needed a change of scenery. Over Thai food, Jon dangled a proverbial carrot that I could not refuse. “We need to get you to 4:09 1500m,” he told my then-4:19 self. While I didn’t really believe this was possible, it did sound nice. Last year I managed to run 4:10. These are my musings.