• Michelle Howell

Last one, Best one

It's been a long year revolved around chasing one hundredth of a second.

.01 from the previous year

.01 from breaking 2:04:00

.01 between accomplishment and disappointment

Day in and day out I've spent my past year chasing after being less than 1% better at least from the previous year. A thought that from the outside looking in may seem trivial to those who don't understand how magical that 0. whatever can feel.

To get there it's been a process with twists and turns and an adjustment to life post-college in general with a few things that have remained the same. I'm definitely still amidst the small percentage of the population that foam rolls every day, is hyper vigilant about how much iron is in my food, and brings beets and rolled oats wherever she travels.

This past weekend I laced up my spikes and taped them twice for good luck before the start line for the last time and spent the following days reflecting on the year.

Trust the Process

This year started out with some bumps in the road. Being able to run (and walk) pain free, getting back into my old racing shape, and seizing the opportunities I was given to race were the highlights of the year that at the beginning I assumed would be the norm. While things came together this past month, there were plenty of times where frustration got the better of me and it felt like my season was going to be a wash. I'd leave practices feeling confident that I was back in shape and ready to race well, but come race day the times were nowhere near my expectation. It also began to seem like bad luck followed me to meets, driving all the way to a meet only for it to be cancelled, poor weather, being delegated to slower heats, not being able to get into some. It was a practice in being patient if anything and learning to roll with the punches on the regular. Staying patient and trusting in the work clearly held out in the end with running not one, but two big PR's in the end.

1st Meet Last Meet

800 2:09.56 2:03.05

1500 4:26.73 4:18.97 (converted from mile 4:39.61)

It's All or Nothing

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift"

Is there anything more cliche than quoting Pre? Probably not, but in this case the runners quote perfectly encapsulates what it takes to excel. Giving your all isn't limited to the track, it's a lifestyle. From the food you choose to eat to the way you spend the other 22 hours of the day when you're running. It's a tight rope act of finding that balance that enables you to compete at the highest level you can without going completely insane.

Since running at this level is self-inflicted why wouldn't you try everything in your power to put yourself in the best position to succeed? Not putting as much energy as you can into it is sacrificing the gift something that seems so simple to understand, but that I let fall to the wayside during the early parts of the season.

My Fall was spent hustling- literally. Coaching, tutoring, working at OV, and walking dogs when I could squeeze them into my weekends between cross country meets and shifts at OV. I was working myself into a hole, while training harder than I ever had before and it was starting to display itself in negative ways. My sleep was poor, my body literally ached all the time and I was mentally burnt out with zero desire to put in anything above the expected.

I wasn't giving my all. I was wasting the opportunity I was given to come here and that struck a chord and eventually a change. Slowly I dropped the things that didn't add value to my running career and slowly things came together as I was able to concentrate more on my career. In retrospect I have no idea how I balanced so much and why I ever thought it was an okay idea.

Compliments of Lane1photos via South Carolina Track Festival

In the end this season has been more of a learning experience and a practice in patience than I bargained for, but with results that I couldn't be more thankful for. With summer coming to a close and Fall just around the corner it's time for a bit of a change.

For the next few weeks I'll be happily living a "normal" life that doesn't revolve around running down tenths of a second. If you need me I'll be indulging in some gluten ridden foods, watching way too much netflix, and spending ample amounts of time sun bathing before starting back to base building.

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