Updated: Jun 12, 2019
Today I wanted to share with you another excerpt from my book Rusch to Glory. I share one of my first experiences with quitting, and why the memory of this day still lasts in my mind even to today.
Running was there where I learned about bitter, linger after-taste of quitting. My senior year, I’d been sick during the week leading up to the regional cross-country meet, a qualifying event for the Illinois state championship. When the race was well under way, I found myself unable to keep up with the top girls and struggling mentally. There was nothing obviously wrong, but it was clear that I was not having a good race. Finally, I just stepped off the course, relieved to stop the pain. When the race ended up and my teammates, mom, and coach all rushed over to see if I was ok, I had no answer for them- I’d simply given up, and in the process let everyone down. Without my points,the team’s chances of qualifying of the state met were in jeopardy. I was a quitter. Fortunately, other girls on my team had the races of their lives.
Going into the state meet two weeks later, I needed to get my head out of the way and run as I’d always run, but I didn't know how to go about it. The assistant coach sat me down and gave me a mantra chant: I can, I will, I won’t be denied. When the gun went off, I ran for the team and for myself, and I ran my heart out. I shook off my insecurities to earn individual all-state status, and we some the state title. I vowed never to quit a race again.
Three decades later, I still bear the scar from that day in Glenview, Illinois, when I stepped off the course. Should the notion of quitting ever enter my mind again, I would ask myself this: Would you rather suffer now and finish the race, or quit- only to suffer through the process of explaining yourself to friends and family? I’ve competed in a lot of races over the years, and the answer is almost always the same: The pain of quitting far outlasts the pain of pushing forward. I’d rather roll in dead last as volunteers are packing up the finish line (which happened to me in my first cross-country ski race) and have people think, Look at that lady hanging in there. Good for her! B lining up for a race, I’m making a commitment- to myself, to my friends, my family, my teammates, my fans- to finish, no matter what place I’m in. I rise to the occasion when I remind myself that someone else is watching.
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