The track nights started because I was looking for something new. My 2017 fall race season had left me a bit deflated and doubting if I should keep entering races. I had become my worst enemy and in a funk. For me, running is about 120% mental. If something wasn’t going right in the first five miles of a race, I had gotten to a point where I couldn’t pull myself back together. I had major race anxiety. My training runs gave my running coach every indication I had great runs inside of me, but I just needed to tap into it in a new way. Enter track night. I did not run track in high school; in fact, my first experience with track was when my daughter decided to run in middle school. Her meets looked so much fun, and I was highly animated cheering for her. I did some quick google searches and found Godiva Running Club out of Durham, and I discovered that they hosted a weekly track night for adults. SIGN ME UP. I’m in.
I knew I would be forced to work through my race jitters weekly with this group. They all run for fun; it’s a variety of ages and paces. But, for me, this was a test to not duck and hide when the gun went off, to focus on a warm-up and drills, and go to the line confident and not shaking. I love sprinting, and through training runs with my Happy Running group in Apex, I have found it to be a strength. Knowing I could do the “distance” (it was 200m) alleviated a lot of stress, and knowing I could be good at it helped me gain confidence.
I went the first couple of weeks by myself and loved it all. I got nervous, I worked through it, I ran hard. Sometimes I got smoked, other times, I lead my heat and was getting top spots among my female peers. I started bringing a couple of friends from my Happy Running group to the Wednesday night meets, and they started to enjoy the fast track nights, too.
Along the way, I found a new way to approach racing, and I brought the fun back. I’m still working on my thought process, but building a series of successful runs has been a great start to my summer running.
Doing something new and out of one’s comfort zone can be hard, but the rewards and gains in experiences can really pay off. I’ve met new people, had conversations with nationally ranked Master’s women sprinters, and watched Kenyans clock 4 minute miles with ease. The oval may look monotonous to some, but for me, it brought about a circle of change.