It’s everyone’s (second) favorite week of the season (given that Outdoor is your favorite season. If not, you’re a little weird, but carry on, Trackstar, I celebrate you). This is the time when everything comes together, when your training culminates into something bigger than yourself: a team effort in a meet full of excitement and magic.
Ok, so you may be thinking, “Wow, Tink, you’re really waxing nostalgic here. The 500m-4×4/800-mile double/3k-5k double I’m about to run is NOT exactly magical.” Or, you’re thinking “I’m injured/I didn’t qualify–I’m just going to be a spectator, why is this weekend so magical to me?” I get that. All of that. Really, I do. And, in all honesty, OACs is just another meet. The gun goes off and you run your given distance, you dash down the runway and land in the pit, you step in the ring and throw your implement… it’s all the same as any other meet, any other weekend. The officials are even the same (pro tip: befriend one–or three– and your college running career will be that much more enjoyable). But there’s this energy about it that is so special. Something about the OAC meet brings out the best in people–this sense of optimism, this idea that anything–really, anything–can happen. Take it all in, and let it fuel you.
I know I’m not speaking for myself when I say how proud of you all I am (even those of you I’ve never even met in the short season since I’ve been gone). The team that I joined as a freshman and the team I graduated from are not the same team by any means–in so many good ways. And I know I didn’t even see the full trajectory in my four short years. And you won’t either–and that’s ok. What’s so special about John Carroll Track and Field (which I’m sure Kyle will tell you over and over) is that it constantly grows and changes, moving more and more toward excellence while achieving great things along the way. It constantly pushes through adversity (hallway practices and snowy drives to Spire that take 3+ hours, anyone?). Learning from the lows, celebrating the highs, it’s all part of it. It’s a journey, a process. It’s something bigger than any individual member of JCUTF, and you carry it with you long after you take off your uniform for the final time (and cry… A lot.). Remember you are not the first, nor will you be the last to put on a JCUTF uniform–and let that motivate you to continually better this program. Remember you are part of something bigger than yourself, whether a spectator or the first person to cross the finish line. But, even more than that, know that there are so many alums from any point in the growth of this team who believe in you and believe in JCUTF’s journey.
This is why I’m writing. I urge you to take a moment during the meet to believe–truly believe–in the power of OACs. Believe in yourself. Believe in your training, your coaches, your teammates. Believe in the image emblazoned across the chest of your uniform. Believe in your lucky headband, your socks, your favorite pair of spikes, laced just right. Believe in the little moments, the season bests, the PRs, the steps you take that bring you closer to your goals. Believe in that hip number, as annoying as those things are. Believe in your blocks, your block holder, and your weird pre-race routine. Believe in the journey. It won’t lead you astray.
Damn Proud to be a Blue Streak.