I slap my legs a few times, bounce up and down, and brace myself for the baton. I watch as Jordan Lee flies past a few guys and is all of a sudden in the top 3. 1:53, 1:54, 1:55… I grab the baton and take off. It’s a surreal moment, flying on the banked track of Boston University, barely hearing my own breathing next to the roar of the crowd.
One year earlier, I had thought my track days were done; I had pushed my body too hard and my shins were in constant pain. The dreams of becoming a state champion had vanished, the hopes of running a school record gone. I could barely go on a 30 minute run without stopping to limp; the multitude of injuries had left me with bitter memories of a potential unfulfilled. I was tired.
I talked myself into doing cross country again at the Academy; my passion for the sport was far greater than the pain of my shins. I knew that with the lack of running I had done in the past few months, my season would not be very pretty, but it was worth it. Getting out of formal room and wing, traveling to different meets across Connecticut and Massachusetts, and running with a bunch of fast guys made the season a good one. Plus, the base I built for track helped a ton.
I sprint toward the finish, raising my arm to pass the baton to my teammate James Martin. I am no longer in the top 3, but I know our team is on pace for a great 4X800 meter relay time. The field was incredible, featuring many Division I schools, and just making the meet was a feat in itself. Now it was up to our last two legs.
James cruised through his 800, and as he passed the baton over to our anchor Ryan Hub, I knew we were in position for a tremendous PR. As Ryan crossed the line, we glanced at the clock and I didn’t believe what I saw.
8:00 for the 4X8. We had run a 13 second PR. I even ran a PR on my 800 split, proving to myself that I had finally come back from my high school injuries and that this was the start of something incredible for our team. With one sophomore and three freshmen, the road ahead looks promising.
As I write this, I’m on the train back home from New York City, where we just ran our 4X8 team at the ECAC championships at the New York Armory. The Armory is perhaps the greatest track facility I’ve ever been too; the entire building is dedicated to track and field. With the 8 flat we had run the previous week, we had qualified for ECACS, bettering the entry mark by 8 seconds. At the beginning of the season if you had said I’d be running in ECACS, I would have probably laughed at you. Even though we did not get a PR today, we still ran a solid 8:05 and the overall experience was amazing. I know our team will do great things in the near future. I’m excited to see how far the United States Coast Guard Academy Cross Country/Distance Track Teams can go in the future. Stay tuned.
More about Zachary.