Life As A Track Star
May 16, 2012 by Vanessa Gillespie
You have to take a leap of faith to realize a dream, and this is something that a lot of people aren’t willing to do.
I never knew track is what I wanted, but as I began to learn the fundamentals, giving my all, crying over the success and failures, I now know that running is what I want to live for.
Thirteen years ago track and field wasn’t on my mind. Playing different sports, chasing after the kids on the playground, running was always the basic element of any childhood activity. But as I grew older I experimented with different sports and, being an active kid, sports were a must to keep me focused. From cheering to gymnastics, then leaving the balance beam for a pair of swimming goggles, none of the sports really captured my attention.
Then one afternoon while chasing the boys on my block, winning every game of tag, my mother saw the talent of running I had in me. Signing me up with the Colorado Flyers (USA track and field team), she knew this was where my life would begin.
While I was entering the team at seven years old, a lot of the girls where older, more developed, and the determination on there faces gave me a fright. Learning from women who hold multiple records around the world, I knew if I gave my all I could become something. Working my way down from cross-country and long meter events, I stopped and became a sprinter. 200 meters and 100 meters (outdoor) 200 meters and 60 meters (indoor).
Track and field has taken me on journeys that will not be forgotten. Traveling from state to state, competing in week-long events, in rain and snow, I gave my all in any weather.
Mondays, I gain strength from the explosive jumping drills and weight room workouts. Tuesdays I learn the fundamentals of my race and run it over and over until I get it down to perfection. Wednesdays are when we separate the strong from the weak. From bounding to lunges, running nothing less than 200 meters, running hills that make champions, if an athlete makes it through a Wednesday practice she is capable of improving in any race. Thursdays is when we relax the body, swimming to loosen the muscles, and group talks where we discuss what needs to be fixed. Friday we come in ready to work, doing better than what we had done on Monday. Nine o’clock a.m., sleep in my eyes, I come in ready to work. 72 bounds with a 90 second rest. Track is not as easy as most people think.
With Sundays being my only off days, I admit it’s dreadful at times, but it’s all worth it in the end. Practice six days a week, with school ending at 2:30, track beginning at 4:00 ending at 8:00 p.m., homework, then bed; it’s hard work, but in order to succeed I must give it my all.
“How is track so hard, all you do is run?” I hear this question all the time. There is more to track than just running. I have to master techniques, concentrate on speeds, and conduct running drills. A true track athlete must be strong mentally; she must have the heart and – as my coach would say – “the dog in you” when you enter every race.
As I reminisce back on times in my life when I wanted to give up on track, I look ahead and see where it is taking me. Scholarships to schools, trips around the world. I found out how powerful I really am when I step onto the track.
As I enter every race, I empty all the positive out my head and think of the negative, which I’m trying to overcome. If I think of all the things I have, I don’t know what I’m fighting for. I use the negative to push me; this is what I’m running for, to show the people who didn’t believe in me that I made it. All the hard times I’ve overcome when I wanted to give up but I didn’t. Standing at my blocks, I look to the left, then the right, take a breath and realize, when my idols become my competition, I’ve made it.
I set my goals in life for 2016 in Brazil; I plan to participate in the Olympics games. Track is my life, it is more than a sport: this is my passion.