Think of the Journey…

Remember the process,

And think about the person you have become in the process…

Last year I shared this story along with a few other ALUM from CAL to help encourage our Golden Bears, a year later, I bring my story to you as the Golden Bears head into the Conference Championship weekend. To them I wrote:

Bears,

This weekend is your chance to be apart of something great, to be apart of a legacy, when you put on that Cal uniform think about how you are contributing to a legacy… Wear that uniform with pride, because once these years are gone, you can’t ever get them back, make your mark, leave something out there to be remembered and carry that with you in everything, you do… This weekend is about competing and being something better than you were yesterday, this weekend is about competing with pride as a Cal Golden Bear. Be fearless this weekend, better yet compete like your life depends on it…

We are Golden bears let’s make history.

– Coach Montaño

It was 2005, my freshman year at the University of Cal Berkeley. I was beaming with pride, that I had the opportunity to represent CAL at The Conference Championships, an opportunity I recognized not everyone would get, not only that… I had another shot at being a better teammate. I really thought about this idea long and hard, the only other opportunity I got to help out as a team, was at BIG MEET (Cal vs. Stanford dual meet), and we gave it a shot, I gave it a shot, but fell short (we lost).  So this time, I was determined to blaze a trail that would remain for years to come.

So here I was a baby bear, with a baby PR of 2minutes and 08.97 seconds from a whole year previous, a time that I ran at the High School State Meet, a time that was now long forgotten, because so far as a Golden Bear I had only run 2minutes and 10.98 seconds. That time was a whole 7 seconds slower than our leading 800m Lady Bear, Chloe Jarvis.

Canyon State Champion

2004 California HS State Champion with a time of 2:08.97

 

On paper, I was going to The Conference Championships to fill a lane and to maybe score the team some points, maybe. For me,  I was going to be something bigger than what I already was, I was going with the heart of a veteran ready to go to war. My heart was so big going into that championship that I ignored what any of the other runners were capable of, I didn’t care because I believed so deeply what I was capable of and with that belief nobody else’s capabilities or incapability mattered nor did my mind have any room for those thoughts. I believed I was capable of helping my team in the biggest way possible. I believed I was capable of winning.

 

Prelims, I showed up knowing that the only way for me to make my dream of being champion become a reality was by running like a bat out of hell in the prelims, no sense in running conservative in the prelims to not make the final, it was my only choice. So I competed, I ran my heart out, held my composure and just barely came away with a PR of 2minutes 08.4 seconds, but I made it to the finals. I came back to the warm up area, cooled down, ate, got flushed out, iced and did everything in my power to recover as much as possible for the following day. I was confident that I had prepared properly and done everything in my power enabling me to COMPETE.

 

The day… Finals of the conference championships… Chloe and I were roommates, we exchanged words of encouragement and inspiration that night and that morning. I remember Chloe telling me… “You are ready for a big PR, I think you are going to run a 2:05..” it stuck with me. My teammate had belief in what I was capable of. We showed up to the track and prepared to go to battle, guns blazing.  By the time they took us out on the track I was in the ZONE. I stood in my lane knowing what I had to do, I had to take it out and take it out hard. I had to run like I wanted it, not just say that I wanted it, and so I did. The gun went off, I blasted out racing to the post, a few runners and I exchanged elbows, but I didn’t let that deter me. As we approached the bell lap I even swallowed a fly, but my mind was made up, no one or thing was going to stop me from COMPETING. The final lap, the bell goes off triggering an instinctive adrenaline rush, senior Chloe Jarvis took off in the lead and I followed suit, than another runner quickly surged and challenged my second place position. I raced her down the backstretch as she began chasing Chloe, I began chasing her, my heart racing right along with my legs. At this point I can see the finish line. I turned on another gear digging down deep, but the finish line showed up before I could catch anyone that was in front of me. And thats when I saw it.  I ended up third place behind, my teammate (who placed first) and a STANFURD runner, but none the less, I was a freshman standing on that podium with a brand new PR of 2minutes and 05seconds, now only 2 seconds behind our leading 800m Lady Bear and 3 seconds faster than my PR I had set a day earlier. So with the encouragement of my teammates, aiming high, dreaming big  and competing, I accomplished so much more than just being able to compete at conference championships, than beating just one runner, than just making it to finals, than maybe scoring. I accomplished something huge for myself, but more importantly for my teammates, that is what conference is all about, your TEAM. Aim to be better than your best.

…. and from there the dreams get bigger and the ball keeps rolling, let the amazing experience begin.

 

Alysia Montaño