Let me paint this picture of this life-turning night at Palo Verde High School back in May of 2005.
I was a 300m intermediate-hurdler who was favored to at least make it to the Sunrise Regional Championships. I remember I failed miserably at the 110HH – not intentionally, but because I was more focused on the ‘endurance’ run that was approaching the next day. So, here I am sitting on what feels like a frosty field for 10-20 minutes. Before the race began, I did a fair amount of stretching to keep loose. However, all athletes were forced to keep seated in the inside of the field until the 800m race had finished – which seemed like for AGES.
Boom, here we go. Approached the blocks, glanced at the heavy crowd on-hand and I recall glancing at just two random Filipinos, making eye-contact with them. It just seemed like at the moment, it was time to do WORK!
“Runners on your block!”
I did my usual jump-crunch and backed into my blocks, waiting calmly for the gun to go off and unleash hell.
I’m flying out the blocks in tenacity so I can get ahead quickly and pace myself. This track’s 300m race starts in the first curve rather than the back straightaway, which was very odd. It didn’t throw me off, but I just remember getting to the first and last curve before I felt my legs tighten up on me. Not to the point that I pulled my hamstrings, but it felt like I had 2-20KG cinder blogs on both shoulders. The other athletes zoomed by me and I saw my hopes of making finals dwindle before my very eyes.
I finished, fell to the ground, and wept like a baby. I staggered walking across the field in utter devastation and seeing some of my teammates looking at me with no reaction. The hardest part was going to my coach and apologizing to him. Other athletes from my team who were heavily favored to reach the Class 4A State Championship Race also didn’t qualify. It was a night of misery.
Or was it?