Two years into my track and field career marked the biggest could-be-achievement of my life. As a junior in high school, I qualified for the Sunrise Regional Championships. Four heats of runners from all over the valley (Las Vegas) facing off with the top 2 of each heat clinching a spot in the finals. Top 2 athletes of the finals would head to Reno for the Class 4A State Championship Race.
Having clinched my spot in the regional semi finals, and with a very distinguished time (upper echelon of all runners), I would at least make it to finals.
I failed miserably at the 100m high hurdles (my weakness); conversely, the 300m intermediate hurdles was the event that I ran great times in over the course of a few months.
Heading into a pivotal race in the west side of Las Vegas (Palo Verde High School), my nerves were calm and I was ready to go. However, I didn’t run the race in my mind whatsoever, nor did I ever, which I think was crucial for advancing.
Nonetheless, after the 200m heats, my event was up next. I’m not exactly sure what was happening on the track, but the officials made us sit down on a cold field, waiting for hour event.
For those of you who don’t know, sitting down and not stretching before a race could end up being detrimental, especially if the temperatures outside were dropping as time went on.
Finally, they called on my heat and I proceeded to lane 3 – one of the best lanes to run in for a 300m intermediate hurdle race. I recall making eye-contact with a couple of Asians before the race – they nodded, I carried on.
“Runners on your block!”
I told myself I would come out screaming out of the blogs and establish my pace. Worst decision ever.
I crouched down and did my typical ritual which involved me smacking the track while taking deep inhales and exhales. I backed into position on the blocks…..here we go.
Once the gun went off, I came out of the block FLYING – passing everyone within the first 75 meters. However, when we reached the first curve, that’s when my hamstrings and quadriceps locked up on me. I had no idea what was happening, but it felt like I was carrying cinder blocks, narrowly getting over the hurdles while the rest of the racers past me in the blink of an eye.
The last 100meters was beyond devastating, hitting every hurdle as I went over – huffing and puffing. I reached the finish line at 50 seconds, dropped to my knees and sobbed. I remember staggering across the field covered in tears and there were twins on the team who were looking at….then dropped their heads as I approached.
A few of my friends approached me for comforting before I went to my coach to apologize. He looked at me, eyes glistening – then put his hands on my shoulders before giving me a partial hug.
Because my coach is such a magician and knowing who I am, he cracked a joke about the race saying, “in the beginning, I was excited! Then around that back stretch I started looking at you and the time with my jaw dropped.”
Another shot-put thrower failed to reach the state championships when he was the most favored out of all the competitors in the entire state of Nevada . 800m runner, who had run extraordinary times throughout the year, also failed, too.
The entire team went up in flames that fateful evening at Palo Verde High School in May.
12 years later, two tough mudders later, thousands of miles later, tens of thousands of squats later, I’m still here. This failure set myself up to continue working out for the rest of my life. Not just because I’m a speed-adrenaline junky and I love running extremely fast, but if it wasn’t for that May night, there’s no telling where my body would be in terms of physique.
When I go running and I’m 200meters away from my mark, the sprint is ON! I barrel down the street while people watch me in awe….”PUSH MOTHER ****ER! DON’T STOP! DON’T STOP!” I feel at times I’m off my head, but those last two hundred meters have rescinded within me in the greatest possible way.
Thank you, failure. If it wasn’t for you, who knows where my health would be today.