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Pray & P.U.S.H (4/4 of "My Track Career in 400m")

Here is the last part to my personal essay. The ending is special for me because it marks a mental and emotional shift in perspective towards my current position in track. In the first draft of this essay, I concluded at the end of "Pray." Feedback on the conclusion from my professor hit the nail on the head in terms of how I was feeling after last season: "hopelessness." But that's no way to end an essay. Due the day before I left for my first track meet of the season, I decided that the final draft, as well as the next season, deserved a better sentiment. Thus, I added "P.U.S.H" to the end of the paper as a personal reflection to prepare mentally for the approaching race. Running my fastest season opener a few days later, the new word for the season is hope.




It’s the final 100m, the infamous part of the race that makes people short sprinters, hurdlers, or distance runners. The spark has become a flame that engulfs my entire lower half in lactic acid. Dark circles cloud my view of the finish line, where I might vomit, collapse, lock up, or some combination of the three. For now, though, talent, strategy, and speed no longer exist. The only thing that matters is heart. Good thing I have a lot of that. I fight to lift my legs, face contorting from the effort. My lungs, heart rate, and organs scream like sirens; yet, the competitive voice in my head drowns out my body’s natural alarm system. Like the second 100m, I do not need to compel myself to fight, I just do. As my own strength fails me, I rely on that of a greater source and am reminded of the namesake for this part of the race.


My freshman season at Stanford felt like the last 100m to a never-ending 400m. With ten illnesses, including 4 sinus infections, I rarely raced healthy. And when I did, each time I stepped onto the track, my legs felt like wildfires that couldn’t be extinguished. Biking back to my dorm and walking up the three flights of stairs to my room were made nearly impossible by unexplainable fatigue. Along with chronic symptoms that required repeated visits to the OB/GYN, the idea to medically redshirt came too late, though it was warranted. However I prepared, whatever mindset I took into the race, I couldn’t perform. Race after race, I set a new personal worst.

One of the lowest points of the season was when my team raced at indoor nationals in the DMR. They finished second place, around a second off of the win. The 400m leg of the relay ran 2 seconds slower than my PR. Naturally, I did the math: if only I could have performed at my best, my team could have brought home a national title–I could have finally made it atop the podium.

Before outdoor PAC-12’s my coach let me know I was done for the season. Frankly, I was relieved to be put out of my misery. A few days later, a test result showed I had mold poisoning in my system.

During that season, with no explanation or solution sticking, all I could do was pray. My strength had failed me when I needed it most: stepping up to college athletics. Each night, I hit my knees in desperation and exhaustion, and I prayed.



Praying Until Something Happens.


After crossing the finish line, I stumble onto the infield and lay flat on my back, arms stretched outwards. My body forms the shape of the cross pendant on my neck. The burning sensation starts in my hamstrings and ends in my throat. I find a wall and prop my legs against it to drain the lactic acid from my extremities, and I rest. Some time after, I rise. I start shuffle jogging to get the blood flowing through my legs again. Though they are heavy, I must keep moving. It’s time for the 4x400.


After my freshman season at Stanford, I took a long time off of running. I was emotionally and physically exhausted from the struggle, and, like after a 400m, I needed rest. But, also like a race day, I couldn’t stay down for long. Whether I was ready or not, the next season was waiting for me. I started training over the summer. At first, whenever I stepped onto the track, I was 8 years old again, staving off tears. Slowly but surely, the haunting memories associated with the sport gave way to a rebuilt confidence. Though it was just months ago when I could not run 100m meters without feeling fatigued, I am now in the best shape of my life. I’ve PR’d in the weight room and in time trials. For the first time in my entire track career, my coach told me that I was strong.


Ready for a fresh start out of the blocks, I will race the 400m and 4x400 this weekend to open my indoor season and renew my pursuit of a national podium finish. This time, however, my push looks a little different: I’m Praying Until Something Happens. No longer out of desperation, but hope.


“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.”

Isaiah 40:31




Hi, I'm Camille Joy!

Welcome to my blog! I am a sophomore track athlete at Stanford with a passion for writing. This blog is a place for me to highlight the experiences of a student-athlete, whether they are mine or others'. EnJOY (:

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