This morning as Team TBB crawled out of the pool and onto the deck, anxiously waiting to hear what The Doc was prescribing for the days training, Bek turned to James and asked what we had today as Doc had already given James and I are our instructions. He replied pointing at me, He will be trying to flog me, and I will be trying to flog him, like every other day! I smiled, snickered and started thinking about what he said. I have written before that I believed I was a part of something special and how I thought my days of being on a team were over after college but as another camp nears its’ end I am now certain just how special this group of athletes is!
I can remember my last race of my collegiate career like it was yesterday. I had just finished running the 5000m at our conference championships, 2 days after finishing 5th in the 10,000m. I was a provisional qualifier for the National Championships in the 10k but we knew my time would be 20 seconds or so short of getting a spot in the meet. I was shattered from the 10k I had run 2 days prior and was well aware at the start of the 5k that it would be my last race in the orange and white. With my Dad, Grandfather, and soon to be fiancé in the stands I had 12 ½ laps left at Tom Black Track. Yes I still go back there at least once a year and get chills every time I step onto that track, but this was last time I would run there as a VOL. I took in each lap just as I took in each day of my senior year.
P.G. And I In Our Last Race At Tom Black Track
I believe I finished 8th or 9th but I will have to double check on that but none the less when it was over I stood on the infield with Coach Watts and my mate Patrick. He was so proud of us for running our hearts out that meet. I began to well up as I looked at the 2 of them, all 3 of us knew my time was up, Patrick was going onto NCAA’s in the 10k, and I was moving onto the world of triathlon. I can remember thinking; this can’t be it, is it really over? I turned to Coach Watts, fighting back my tears and said, I’m not ready for this to be over!! I love this place!! Now I know it sounds like things were all hunky dory but there were many ups and downs throughout my 5 year career at Tennessee, I had to fight back from several injuries, it took me 3 years to figure out how not to burn out before April, and after I was left off the conference team that track season, I quit. Lucky for me Coach Watts was secretly talking to my mother over the phone over the summer checking in because he knew I would be home training my ass off and once August came around I would get the cross country bug. Well, he was right and called me up at the right time asking me to reconsider my decision. I came back to Knoxville that fall a different runner, I salvaged my career at UT, and that spring when I got my chance to run the 10k at the conference meet I scored valuable points, not in the numbers category as I was 8th, good for 1 point, but in the inspirational category as most teammates knew how long I had been fighting to score at the conference meet and they were all out there on the track that hot humid summer night! We went onto win the meet and that set the tone for what would be a memorable senior year!
South Eastern Conference and National Champions
What I was realizing was how special it was to be a part of a team. As the saying goes, “sometimes you don’t realize how good you got it until it’s gone”. I was also realizing what it meant to live in the now. So this morning when James answered Bek the way he did, I started to reminisce a bit because I am seeing many parallels between my college experience and my experience today as a member of Team TBB. In today’s world of athletics, so many athletes are so stand offish, unapproachable! Every one is doing secret training, many want to train alone, and when they go to competitions they walk around all weekend with their Ipods on, heads down sending, or pretending to send text messages. What’s with the paranoia? As we are learning, the secret is simple, hard work!!! I guess my point is that I am lucky to be on a team not only getting pushed day in and day out, but also forming friendships with athletes that I might not have ever had the chance to interact with. At the end of the day, we look at each other, have a laugh, and say, man you stuck it to me good today! Then get up the next day and do it again.
James And I Atop Le Col du Glandon On The Way To Alpe d’ Huez
Many want to know the secrets of what is going on in our camps. Well as another camp comes to a close, here is what went on: more memories that will last a life time were created, there were lots of smiles and laughter, some tears were shed, there were many aches and pains, friendships have become stronger, and we will be returning to our friends and families better human beings than when we left because there were many lesson on life given! That is what happens when you get the right group of people together and put them on a team together!
Manny, Steve, and I relaxing in Alpe d’ Huez - The Whole Crew On The Way To Alpe d’ Huez