It’s NCAA week! As teams and individuals are getting ready to toe the line in Terre Haute, we asked Kara to reflect back on her 2000 race when she won the NCAA Cross Country title. What advice would she give herself 16 years later? What would calm her nerves? What would get her ready for the starting line? Take a read through Kara’s letter to her past self...
I know how much excitement you have to race the NCAA Championships this weekend. I also know that you are extremely nervous. You don’t want to let your coach, teammates, or school down like you feel like you did last year (in 1999) when you were the favorite and you faded to 9th. You know that you are ready but you are letting doubt creep into your mind.
As the future you, I want to tell you to slow down. Try to really take it all in. You have so much pride running for the Colorado Buffaloes. Feel that pride. Mark is only asking you to run a race you have proven many times this season that you can run. Your preparation has been flawless. You and your teammates have been extremely disciplined and focused since your disappointing result last year. You are all ready to run hard.
You will look back at this experience and even though you’ll be pumped to learn both you individually and your team win the title, you will mostly remember this being the last bit of true innocence in your running. You aren’t running for money, you are running for pride, for your tribe. You will look back and see how during this time you believed anything was possible, you are not yet jaded by the scandals and doping culture you will later know to be true.
So take a deep breath, look around you, and take it all in. The team dinners, the pre-race shakeout. You are so lucky to have this experience in your life. Trust your training, trust your teammates, and most importantly trust yourself. You are ready for a great race. You are ready to run hard but more importantly, to have fun executing that race. Enjoy every last second.
Enjoy the experience, NCAA competitors. And go race your heart out on Saturday!