Start lines are ubiquitous in this sport. They live in races, workouts, alarm clocks, the Sunday long run, saying no so you can say yes, lying on a PT table, stepping out your front door, walking into the gym. Literally everywhere. 2016 was about toeing those lines with grit. ​

There is a long list of things I ardently love about running. Standing on the start line of a race vies for the top spot. That is the moment you bring the cards you've collected, prepared to deal them out one by one. Everyone comes with a carefully curated deck, yet every person has collected their cards differently. 2016 was about one starting line in particular; the Olympic Trials (and because I tend to adopt the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" approach - the Olympics).

This was the first year Mel Lawrence had been healthy since 2009, when she finished 5th at the US Championships as a nineteen year old. There were no hiccups, no inconsistencies. There was steadiness, execution. Nothing fancy about it. Weeks of work pilled up, giving way to PRs she had only dreamed of for seven years. There was excitement, but caution. She had years of disappointment under the surface; getting so close only to have her body betray her. After the number of injuries she's had, no one would have questioned her if she had hung up her spikes. Each time she walked to a line this year there was an air of resolve, a quiet tenacity.


In contrast, my year was riddled with inconsistencies and misfires. My body betrayed me early on, coming back from the dead, only to betray me again. Knowing damn well you don't get to choose the cards you're dealt, I was determined to play the hell out of every card I got my hands on. I moved goals, altered my metrics of success, and believed trying was important. Rediscovered that while standing on the start line of a race is my favorite, the process to get there contains the most joy. Recognized no matter how strong your will, trying does not guarantee success. Remembered that failing and heart break are inevitable, but incredibly inspiring. Putting my dream out in the world, only to have it drown in the watery splash of a two footed water pit, hopefully inspired someone to be brave, grit their teeth and do something that might crack their heart and makes their eyes sweat.

Luckily Mel and I were on different roads to the same place, because she was the unstoppable force and I was the immovable object. We toed the line with our dreams and disappointments, took a deep breath and played our cards.

- Collier Lawrence

December 29, 2016 — jbarnard

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