I made my track debut in the third grade at an all-city co-ed track meet. It was the type of meet where anyone could sign up and kids got a free Orange Crush t-shirt for participating. My sister Sue and I tried a few events; we were already there, so why not enter multiple events, even if we had no idea how to long jump.
My dad suggested I run the 400, one-time around the High School track. Before the race he gave me some coaching advice.
“Now, the other runners are going to start out fast and get tired—they could burn out. I want you to run a steady pace, saving energy for the whole lap,” he suggested. I watched his face, listened seriously and agreed, determined to run the race correctly.
The gun fired and right away the kids around me sprinted, leaving me head down, heart pounding, jogging around the first arc of the oval-shaped track. Within seconds, my dad, who was filming the race, could no longer keep all the racers in his viewfinder. Instead, he panned down the track to the other runners getting farther and farther ahead. Then back to me, my eyes searching, feet plodding along, alone. Watching the film now, you can tell he’s trying not to laugh audibly. And watching it now, I laugh, loudly.
That simple race in my terrycloth shorts and wornout sneakers lasted minutes, but felt longer. I remember rounding the other end of the oval, almost done, and thinking I should keep running out of the stadium and get out of there? But, I stuck it out. I kept going and somehow passed a girl, maybe she had asthma, finishing in time to take third place of the girls. I made the choice to keep running and was handed a white ribbon.
Persistence and old-fashioned stubbornness got me once around a 400-meter track. With twenty-some years of character-forming life experiences I hoped my feet would later carry me across my first Ironman finish line tape. What would it take to get there?
Learn more about Sara's adventures with running, triathlon and life at www.ironmakeover.blogspot.com. Sara also volunteers as a moderator in active.com’s triathlon community, stop by and say hello. http://community.active.com/community/sports/triathlon Thanks Sara!