In the context of my retirement from the University of Oregon track team (I had been dubbed a veteran in my final season of eligibility); I came away from NCAA Indoors pleased but unsatisfied. I criticized myself for not pressing the pace more, not being more alert in the last lap, and wondering if I’d really given it my all. It wasn’t until my dad said, “I didn’t realize that you were finished with the team”, that I began to realize this was all part of the mourning process.
The week after NCAAs I went straight into final exams, and began to deal with some uncomfortable feelings that arose. For the past 4 years I had extracted so much willpower, determination and enthusiasm from my daily involvement with the Oregon track team. In the beginning, I didn’t really grasp the entire meaning of the commitment. The whole environment fosters a sense of community and team spirit: we each drive this and are driven by it. Coming from Australia, where my approach to training was comparably autocratic, I remember warming up for one of my first workouts with headphones in. Then there were the workouts in the pouring rain. Originally, I thought that was…ridiculous? But soon enough I realized that this was what it took to become one of the best teams in the country. Some days you gripe, other days you just humor it. Of course, being at Oregon gradually strengthened my self-discipline and passion for running. But after the cut-off (of NCAAs), I realized that I had been getting a 6 day/week fix…
After a few days of recovery (a week off), the emotions subsided, and instead, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. With just one class left to complete my college degree, I have a great opportunity ahead. I can focus even more on running (the US outdoor season) and will have a lot more free time. Maybe I’ll find a job on campus, but if not, then I will take no guilt in giving myself a break. It won’t last forever, and being a full time student-athlete was tough! I remember standing on the line at the last NCAA X-Country, feeling exhausted from taking 4 classes that term. With that said, I feel like my efforts are finally coming to fruition. I’ve put in the hard yakka…and now I can more or less concentrate it.
I’m continuing to train under Vin Lananna with my former teammates, and will focus on getting my times down this season. Of course I miss Australia, but am just going to make the most of it while I am here.