I recently wrote a pretty detailed recap of the Nationals race and some reflections from it for D3Sports.com. I think it sums up a lot of what I wanted to write in this entry, so please take a look at it HERE.
While I'm disappointed I didn't become St. Norbert's first Cross Country National Champion, I'm satisfied knowing I gave everything I had last Saturday. I ran until my legs were ready to give out. I was able to end with my best Nationals finish ever. It was a very fine finish to a spectacular 4 years. I am so, so incredibly happy I made the decision to come back for my final season of eligibility!
I want to take this opportunity to remember to thank some very special people that have helped to make this season extra special as well as those who have helped to make my entire college career the best 4 years of my life.
To my Coach: you know me inside and out, and you helped me reach higher and higher than I ever thought possible. You always had the right things to say to motivate me and strive to get better day in and day out. You dealt with my various idiosyncrasies and had faith in me through and through. I can't even begin to thank you enough for how much you've impacted my running... and most importantly, my life! And as I continue to pursue running, even though you may not officially be writing up my workouts, you'll always be my Coach. :)
To my Parents: My Number One Fans. Without a doubt. I think they maybe missed one or two meets TOTAL throughout my four years as a Green Knight. Heck, my Dad even made it to all my basketball games my freshman year when I sat on the bench! They're absolutely amazing, and I know I would never be where I am today without their unwavering support. I may be slightly biased, but I don't think there's better parents out there. :) Same thing goes for my two brothers. They're both football players at heart, so watching cross country and track is NOT very exciting for them, I know, but they come and have supported me no matter what, and for that I am incredibly thankful. (silly side note... watch the background of this video ... those are my 2 brothers acting ridiculous. totally sums up what I have to deal with on a regular basis ;) )
To my Teammates: I don't know what I'd do without you. I came to the team as a basketball player and was so nervous I'd never fit in. You made me feel welcome right away, and I became part of a family where we could all count on each other to pick one another up after tough races and to give huge hugs and congrats on those great, PR type of races. We've had so many good times... FINALLY bringing home a Midwest Conference Team Title...and what we'll probably remember most--the good times outside of running... the team "functions": the post-Conference parties, Ugly Christmas sweater parties, and many other amazing gatherings. It's going to be tough moving on without all of you, but I already look forward to stalking results of your incredible successes and to staying in touch... because just as Coach Augustine will always be my Coach, you will always be my teammates. :)
To my Twitter pals: Steve, who drove 20 hours to watch me race in Iowa, Amanda who I've looked forward to meeting since the moment I began talking with her in June -- it was amazing to FINALLY meet you both in person and I know in meeting you both that I have friends for life! There's also so many countless other runners who have provided and continue to provide me with support and kind words on basically a daily basis! It's been so much fun to be a part of such a great community of runners, to be able to share and relate to both the highs and lows that are associated with being a passionate runner.
Beyond the thank you's, I guess I just wanted to re-iterate how much FUN I have had the past four years. It's been a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but the smiles have FAR outnumbered the frowns! Because of the joy and contentment running has brought me, it has been solidified that it will continue to be a part of my life for years and years.
First, I'm going to pursue something I've dreamt about really since the first time I made it to Nationals. I'm going to try the world of post-collegiate running. I want to qualify for the Olympic Trials. I know it won't be easy, but hey, "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take"... so I'm not missing out on the opportunity that's in front of me. I'm going to go for it with all my heart while I still can. I've only been at this thing for about 3 years, so I'm confident the best is yet to come!
My blog will continue to be here to document my journey as a post-collegiate runner. I'll have to modify it a little bit as I'm no longer Knight Runner, but I can promise you that same passion will still be present in my writing (and in my tweets!). I'm looking forward to your continued support as I pursue this dream... and I again highly encourage all of you to take a chance of your own and chase your passions and dreams, no matter how big (or small!) they may seem!
I'm going to end by re-posting the quote in my D3sports.com article, because I just love it so much and think it captures exactly what Division III and competing for "the love of the game" is all about:
"It's not about getting a scholarship, getting drafted, or making SportsCenter. It's a deep need in us that comes from the heart. We need to practice, to play, to lift, to hustle, to sweat. We do it all for our teammates and for the student in our calculus class that we don't even know.
We don't practice with a future major league first baseman; we practice with a future sports agent. We don't lift weights with a future Olympic wrestler; we lift with a future doctor. We don't run with a future Wimbledon champion; we run with a future CEO. It's a bigger part of us than our friends and family can understand. Sometimes we play for 2,000 fans; sometimes 25. But we still play hard. You cheer for us because you know us. You know more than just our names. Like all of you, we are students first. We don't sign autographs. But we do sign graduate school applications, MCAT exams, and student body petitions. When we miss a kick or strike out, we don't let down an entire state. We only let down our teammates, coaches, and fans.
But the hurt is still the same. We train hard, lift, throw, run, kick, tackle, shoot, dribble, and lift some more, and in the morning we go to class. And in that class we are nothing more than students. It's about pride - in ourselves, in our school. It's about our love and passion for the game. And when it's over, when we walk off that court or field for the last time, our hearts crumble. Those tears are real. But deep down inside, we are very proud of ourselves. We will forever be what few can claim ... college athletes."
Till next time... Happy Running!
~(Forever) KnightRunner :)
** Quick note: for a complete photo gallery (courtesy of my wonderful Dad!) of Nationals, visit our Smugmug Site!