“When people go to a track meet, they’re looking for something, a world record, something that hasn’t been done before. You get all this magnetic energy, people focusing on one thing at the same time. I really get excited about it. It makes me want to compete even more. It makes it all worthwhile, all the hours of hard work,” says internationally acclaimed track Star Steve Prefontaine.
In the summer before my freshman year, I joined a program at my high school that has completely changed my life. I joined the cross country team. cross country became a major part of my life and reshaped what I was expecting to be doing in high school. School was no longer just about academics, it was about the long practices after school and the trips to meets on the weekends.
After cross country season is over however, all of us are expected to participate in distance track in the spring sports season. From late November to March 1, we prepped for the upcoming track season. I was very nervous for our first meet, but after my first mile of the season was underway all of my nerves went away and I began to love this new sport. By the end of my freshman year track season, I began to like it even more than cross country, the sport I joined at first.
I am a distance runner, since I came from cross country, so on the track I do the 800 meter, 1600 meter and the 3200 meter. In cross country the races were all three miles. I like track a lot more than cross country not because of the shorter races, ok maybe that is a part of it, but because of the atmosphere.
Like in the quote, when you show up to a track meet, there is a feeling in the air. When you step out off of the football field and onto the track, It’s a mix of nerves and excitement to start. In that last moment before the gun goes off, everyone is getting their minds ready for the race ahead. When the race starts the first priority is positioning, everyone has different strategies and they are all being put into effect. After the first 100 to 200 meters is where the real race begins. Every racer is in a position and the rest of the race is pushing yourself mentally and physically trying to make up any time you can.
Another reason I like track more than cross country is because the races are a lot more fun to go to. There is so much going on with all of the different field events going on at the same time as the track events. There is also a lot more motivation. People line up on the edge of the track and cheer you on as you go past, unlike cross country races where you can find yourself isolated with no one cheering or even racing around you for miles. When you are a distance runner, motivation and encouragement is a big part of a race.
When you are towards the middle of the race you naturally start to slow down and other people’s motivation helps you to keep pushing and stay mentally strong. Elsinore High School is very supportive of everyone, so even if you do not know the people, you still find yourself cheering for them. One of my favorite parts of track meets, is when I get to cheer on my team mates and friends in their races.
I also love the feeling of accomplishment that you get when you do well in a race and achieve a new personal record. The feeling is incredible when you know that you have done better than you have ever done before in that certain event.
At the end of a race when you are close behind someone, it comes down to your mindset and your heart. If you want it badly you will begin to gain ground. If there is a person near you or next to you towards the end of a race, they are obviously of the same physical capability, but the winner will come from whoever wants it more. Anyone can push themselves to what they think is their limit, but if they dig deep enough and develop a strong mindset, they will push themselves far past what they think is the limit.
I would like to thank my coaches, Isabel and Dampier, for all of the help and support they have given me. They are inspirations to everyone and are our biggest motivators. This track season is only just beginning, and I am so excited to see what I can achieve as the season goes on.