No. 106, Revisited—4th Visit [Runners]

Photo Courtesy of IWU Parents
Photo Courtesy of IWU Parents

“OK, 5,000-meter final, NAIA indoor championships. I ran the race of my life in the prelim, it felt so easy, I PR’d by like 10 seconds. It just kind of came out of left field. So going into the final I’m like, Man, anything can happen. I wanted to give myself a chance to finish hopefully in the top three, maybe even win it if I could. Me and coach had talked about our strategy for the race, and our strategy was to really start kicking home with 600 meters left—it was a 300-meter track, so with two laps to go. I noticed with what was three laps to go, they had two up on the card. I started realizing then that they could ring it [the bell] next time, but I thought they’d get it fixed. There was some lap traffic starting to happen. We came around the next lap, and I’d been consistently closing the gap on the top three guys. By that point, with two laps to go—one on the board—it was about a two- or three-second gap, and I was feeling pretty good. They rang the bell, and all three of those guys took off, and I had to make a call at that moment. I could try to chase them, probably not catch anybody and be totally spent, or I could make things interesting—force a decision. I kind of protected my spot; I went a little bit faster than maybe I would have wanted to. Held on to fourth, and then just kept rolling. I remember looking directly at the guy counting the laps, and I’m exaggerating saying I’ll never forget his face, but his face was definitely telling a story about his internal dialogue as I ran past him. I didn’t know if anyone took off after me. I ran that last lap in a little bit of confusion. I finished the race, and I turned around and saw my teammates going nuts. It sure felt like I won. It was really cool. They ultimately decided to go with the 4,700-meter results. I kind of looked at it as the best of both worlds, because if they would have given it to me, it had an asterisk. And frankly, I think the best I could’ve done in that race was second. I don’t think I could have won. But now I don’t have to handle that, I don’t have to worry about people saying, ‘That’s not a legitimate national title because the officials screwed it up.’ But I still had those moments after the race, and for like an hour it was just kind of floating on cloud nine. When I finished and turned around and saw 20 guys and girls in IWU stuff just going bananas, it was something I will not forget—a really neat moment. … I didn’t know what I was going to do with the plaque—I didn’t know if I wanted to scratch out fourth and put first, or scratch out 5,000 and put 4,700. The coolest thing for me was that I was the subject of a topic that trended on the LetsRun message boards; that will never happen again.”

Neno (speaker) leads the pack in the photo above.

No. 105, Revisited—4th Visit [Runners]

Photo Courtesy of IWU Parents
Photo Courtesy of IWU Parents

“In high school, we didn’t have a cross-country team, but I really wanted to run cross-country because I loved it in middle school. So my mom wanted to fight for me and give me that chance, so she would take me to meets, and we’d just follow Jordan Dekker’s team around because we knew they’d be there. [My mom] would just be like, ‘My daughter really loves cross-country. Can she run in your race today?’ And they’d let me in, and I’d get to run, and I had so many more opportunities. I got to race at state that year, even though I just randomly entered cross races when my mom found them. She’s not a runner at all—I don’t know if she’s run a day in her life—but she was like, ‘You can do it; we’re going to do this.’ She was like my coach. It was really cool, because she believed in me and fought for me when that could’ve been it.”

No. 105, Revisited—3rd Visit [Runners]

Photo Courtesy of IWU Parents
Photo Courtesy of IWU Parents

“I had plantar fasciitis for a year-and-a-half, and it’s still not quite gone. But I raced through all last track season and just sucked it up, so then I could go compete at nationals. It worked out really well because we did well and it was worth it. But then I had to take my entire summer off, which I wasn’t expecting to do because I thought I could just heal up in a couple of weeks. So I didn’t do any of my summer training, and it was kind of scary because by the end of the summer, in a weird way, I started enjoying not running. It scared me because I wasn’t training and I was enjoying the lazy life. That’s really scary because I love running, and then to think that I would actually enjoy not doing it was really scary for me. But when I started running again after a month of torture—I was trying to jump back in after no summer training—I loved running more than I had before I was injured. I loved not running, but I loved running more than I loved not running.”

No. 105, Revisited [Runners]

Photo Courtesy of IWU Parents
Photo Courtesy of IWU Parents

“We were on a Sunday morning long run, and it was like eight miles that day. There were five or six of us, and we had found a new route that month, so we were exploring it on the other end of town. We’re running through a not-so-nice neighborhood, and obviously we’re really used to dogs, but our coach’s daughter, Alyssa, is really good with dogs—she trains dogs—so she taught us that when we see dogs, we gotta stop and just stare them down, and they’ll back away. So we’re running, and all of a sudden we hear all this barking. Three pit bulls and a bulldog come charging at us, and they’re just blazing. We tried to stop and stare at them, but they don’t stop, and we’re scared they’re going to bite off our calves. We’re running out into the middle of the street, then we smacked into a car. Now we’re pinned between this car—which we hit, and the driver was probably really mad at us—and these dogs that are going to eat us. We’re all screaming, not knowing what to do. And now the dogs are like a foot away from us. All of a sudden, this cop comes out of a cop car and starts hitting the dogs with a stick and backing them away. He gets between us and the dogs and saved us. … We haven’t run that way since.”

Julie (speaker) is on far right.

No. 106, Revisited—3rd Visit [Runners]

Photo Courtesy of IWU Parents
Photo Courtesy of IWU Parents

“Be patient. Everybody that is thinking about running in college probably is pretty successful in high school. No matter who you are, if you’re going somewhere to run in college, you’re probably not going to be the top dog your first year, or even the second year—maybe not even the third year if you have a really good program. You also might come into a situation where the expectation is beyond what you thought you could do. You almost have to turn that off and not worry about it. I’m running things now that I wouldn’t have thought about when I was 18 years old. You have to realize that you’re going to go through the grinder before you get there. But you can still get there, as long as you do those little things.”

Neno (speaker) is bib No. 468.

No. 104, Revisited—3rd Visit [Runners]

Photo Courtesy of IWU Parents
Photo Courtesy of IWU Parents

“This year, at Wake Forest, I’m running the 5K. The goal is to break 15 [minutes] for the first time. Nothing exciting happens really until the end. I see that I’m going to break 15 minutes—I see 14:55, 56, and I’m just like, ‘I did it.’ So I put my hands up—I was in fourth [place]. Right as I put my hands up, some guy passes me right at the line. That has been one of the highlights, or lowlights, for me—highlights for everybody else.”

Jacob ran 14:57.54. His teammates said the funniest thing about it was that it looked like he was celebrating fourth place.

No. 109, Revisited [Runners]

Photo by James Rogers
Photo by James Rogers

“My senior year at state, I think I was getting interviewed after my 800-meter prelim. There was a couple camera guys and a few people interviewing me, and I was feeling good and talking to them. Out of nowhere, I was like, ‘Excuse me.’ And I just threw up everywhere. The whole night, when I was watching the news, I was like, ‘Please don’t [show that].’”

No. 107, Revisited [Runners]

Photo by James Rogers
Photo by James Rogers

“Last year, I had a stress fracture. I’m a pretty new runner, and once my season started going pretty well, I went to Christian [NCCAA] nationals and had a pretty good race but got a stress fracture during the race. That set me back. It was the first time in my life since I started running that I had to take an extended break from it. It made me realize the appreciation I have for not only running, but my teammates, my coach, the gift God has given us to run and to be with these wonderful people. I also noticed how invested my teammates were even not just on a running level, but a deeper level than that. It really helped me see the bigger purpose we have, where before it was so focused on running. I could see my teammates as more of people rather than just running mates. It was a blessing in disguise. At the time, I would have seen it as a curse, but now looking back, it’s definitely a blessing.”

No. 106, Revisited [Runners]

IMG_453689213
Photo by James Rogers

“I’m not a super extroverted person, but the bigger the event, the more energy it gives me. I’m contradicting myself a little bit, but I like going to the national meets and just watching the performances and then going out there and trying to do it. I think part of that is my competitiveness. But you see somebody do something really well—whether it’s from your school or another school—in the 400-meter hurdles or something, and it’s like, I gotta do something equally as good in my event.”

No. 110 [Runners]

Photo by James Rogers
Photo by James Rogers

“My high school coach, we call him Coach Pi. I remember going to Illiana Christian, my high school, and [my sister] played volleyball and basketball, and they had cross-country practice around that time. I’d walk in, and I knew [Coach Pi] was the cross-country coach. He’s not a weird-looking guy, but he just kind of stands out just the way he is. He’s like 55 and wears running shorts, and he’s muscular and stuff—he just stands out. I wasn’t even going to do cross-country, and my mom just told me during the summer while they were at cross-country camp, ‘You should go [to the practice for non-camp runners].’ My mom told me to go, and I just ended up doing it. Even now, and during my whole high school career, [Coach Pi] was always doing things to make it fun. We’d play Ultimate Frisbee sometimes when heck, we could’ve been getting injured. We did football tosses and made running fun. He just did the silliest things, and at the time it was like, What are we doing now that’s stupid? It was so different in college—I like college—but it’s just different. I remember asking Coach [John] Foss when I came [to IWU], ‘So do you guys like, play a lot of Ultimate Frisbee and stuff?’ I could tell he was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ … My whole high school career, [Coach Pi] made it fun for me, and I try to make things fun, and I like when other people try to do that. He loves running, and we took it seriously, but he was never—I mean, we had a lot of interesting personalities on the team, so the fact that he balanced all that is incredible. If you knew all of us, you’d just be like, ‘How did he deal with you guys and make you guys pretty good runners?’ He knows his stuff, and he just keeps it fun.”

No. 109 [Runners]

Photo by James Rogers
Photo by James Rogers

“A lot of people running in college won a lot of their events in high school, so that’s a big difference when they come to college and they’re like, ‘Wait, what?’ I think it’s important for people to realize that winning is important, but it’s not everything. Giving your best really is enough and the best thing you can do. And loving running.”