Talent, Passion, and My High School Prom

I just got back from the Footlocker National High School Cross Country Championships at Morley Field in Balboa Park in San Diego. The top 40 girls and top 40 boys from around the U.S. (top 10 from each of the country’s four regional championship races) earn a trip to San Diego, a stay in the famous Hotel del Coronado, and a chance to run in the high school national championships.

Immediately before the race, each runner is introduced to the large crowd, with their cross country and track stats announced. Hard to believe how fast these kids can run at such a young age. I always cheer for any kids from New Jersey since that’s where I ran cross country in high school. Even though I don’t know these kids at all, I still feel a strong sense of pride and nostalgia (and even a little jealousy) when I see a kid from New Jersey doing great things.

The start of the girls race.


The start of the boys race.

I’ve been going to this race every year since moving to San Diego in 2008, partly because I love watching great races and partly because it brings me back to my high school days. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the enormous talent that these kids do and never got to run in this race. I wish I had their talent.

A lot of people do. That’s why the park was so crowded today to watch a bunch of high school kids run. Because we are drawn to talent. That’s why we go to concerts of great musicians or museums filled with the work of great artists. Because we are drawn to talent. On some level, we all wish we could run like these high school kids or make music like Brittany Spears (ok, maybe not like Brittany Spears) or think like Einstein or paint like Picasso.

When I watch these kids get on that starting line with all their nervous energy, about to do something special that few people get to do, I recognize my deep passion and what I am meant to do. I love coaching so much that it makes me sad when I’m not doing it.

I ran the 5K course yesterday as a comfortably hard tempo run, as I have been doing each year the day before this race. This time, I ran with a high school runner I coached in the spring. He kicked by butt. It left me wondering, “Where has all my speed gone?” and “Why can’t I keep up with a high school kid?”

So, what does this all have to do with my high school prom that I included in the title of this blog post? Well, I don’t have any dorky prom pictures to show you because I never went to my high school prom. I was too shy of a kid and only asked a few girls to the prom at the last minute when they already had dates. So my high school prom is one of the things I think about when I think about high school.

Which brings me to the point of this blog post: We can’t go through life crying over spilled milk, wishing that we were something that we’re not. It’s easy to say, “If only I could do this,” or “If only I were able to do that.” Some of us are faster runners than others. Some of us have a higher IQ than others. Some of us are better looking than others. Some of us get prom dates and others don’t. Deal with it. We are who we are and we must accept that and try to be better tomorrow. That’s all we can ask of ourselves.

Whatever it is you choose to do, whether it be running or weight lifting or crossword puzzles or underwater basket weaving or prom dating, try to do it better tomorrow than what you did today.

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