The cold, frigid temperatures didn't stop you. You gave everything you had, every hill, every stride, every moment, you never gave up. You believed in yourself and knew what you had to do to get what you've been working for all season. You did it, you really did it.
Tears rolled down my face watching you accomplish the impossible. I've never been this emotional before watching somebody compete in a cross country race. You never seize to amaze me with your talents, all of your hard work this year has finally paid off. Coming off an injury over the summer, it's still hard to believe that somebody could have such an amazing comeback. You have been patient all season and finally got to show everybody what you can do.
When I first met you, I'm not going to lie, I was very intimidated by you. You were fast, tall and determined to make an impact on this team and the school. We were both new to the team last year and both were going through the same things. You became one of my first friends on campus, making sure I was handling the new environment well and kept me on my feet. I'll never forget all the long, crazy stories you've told me about all the road races you've ran and how excited you were to run in college. You told me some big dreams you had coming into the collegiate running scene and I got to watch you accomplish one of those dreams.
As you prepare for nationals, I want to share some advice with you, some things that I tell myself before races and some things you can take with you and remember all the way up to the moment you toe the line in Evansville, IN, to the moment you cross the finish line.
You are just as strong as everyone there. Go into the race with the mindset that you're going to be the next national champion, because you can. There is nothing wrong with telling yourself that you can win, you're physically fit and as coach would say "all the hay is in the barn". Everything will take care of itself, you just need to be mentally tough. If you tell yourself you can, you can. Running is a weird sport, who wants to go out and see who can run the fastest? Well, sadly, we do. It's a sport seeing who is the most mentally tough and who can fight through the pain the longest. Yes, running a personal best is a great feeling, but finishing a race is one of the biggest accomplishments anyone could every dream of.
Be thankful for your opportunity to run. This is every runner's dream to run at a big national meet. There's only so many times you will be able to run a collegiate cross country race, make every moment count. When you feel good, run faster and pass people. Don't hold yourself back to what you're capable of and hey, the faster you run, the faster you're done! Remember this summer when you were injured and had to take time off? That has made you even stronger mentally and physically, when the race gets tough and you feel like you can't go anymore, you can. Your body will carry you through. You have the potential to crush the competition if you believe.
Run your heart out and always remember the reason you run.
"The best pace is suicide pace and today feels like a good day to die." - Pre.
One last thing, I am so proud of all the things you have overcome as a runner and a person. Never in my life have I been so proud of somebody before. You have shown me and the team that anything is possible. It's crazy to think that you only started running last year. I admire your work ethic, how a day off to you means hours of cross training and not actually taking a day off. I look up to you, you have shown me what it's like to be a humble, kind, and loving human being. I can't thank you enough for the things you have brought to this team and how much you care about each and every one of us. You lead this team like nobody else can. The amount of love you have for the sport tops everyone else, running has shaped you to be the person you are today.
Congratulations and good luck in Evansville, you deserve this more than anybody.
"Don't be afraid to give up the good and go for the great." - Pre.