By Alex H.
I grew in college. A lot. I entered just over 5 feet tall and graduated just over 6 feet tall, but I also grew as an athlete and an individual. High school is where I fell in love with running. I got just enough out of the sport that I was addicted to the feeling of improvement. For my 4 years in college, positive outcomes were few and far between. I'm talking maybe 50 races and about 5 I'm proud of. Freshman year I immediately grew 3 inches and my hips were so misaligned I couldn't run for months. Sophomore year I changed my diet with hopes of performing at a higher level and became iron deficient. Then I got healthy and pulled my right calf. Then I got healthy again and my shin kept me out. Junior year I was in the best shape of my life and missed 10 days from a water induced coma. There's a trend here. Get fit. Get hurt. Get healthy. Get sick. The list does not stop there, but you get the idea. From diet changes, to what I thought was smart hydration, to running more and running harder, every intention was positive. But the outcomes did not match. The message here is trial and error, and the willingness to keep trying and failing. It is a never ending cycle, but it is how we grow. What I took out of my college career is more than any breakout performance could have told me. I learned that I'm in the sport for the right reasons. I learned that passion will always drive me forward, and failure is only failure if we stop trying. I took something out of each and every injury and poor performance. Most importantly, I realized my mentality was never going to be my downfall. Since college, I have steadily improved, and am finally (after 9 years) beginning to see signs of the athlete I have long wanted to be. I attribute much of this to the hunger that brewed over years of unfinished business on the track, that is now starting to come to fruition on the roads. As I see myself improving, my hunger grows stronger. As far as my focus, the marathon,"Run under 235" changed to "dip under 230" and has now grown to "get under 223" and hopefully culminates to "break 219" (Olympic trials B standard for men in the United States) by the Olympic trials. But if things came easier, and I had not been knocked down so many times previously, who knows if I would still be here sharing a journey with you?
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