Student-Athlete Column: Finishing Strong

Dineen, a four year student-athlete, says goodbye to running as his season and time at Fordham come to an end. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Dineen, a four year student-athlete, says goodbye to running as his season and time at Fordham come to an end. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Last week I may have run the last race of my college career. It has been a few days now since I ran, and I am still unsure how I feel about it.

It’s been a long four years, especially this year. Injuries and quarantines really limited my ability to train consistently, and I spent lots of time considering if it was even worth continuing. Additionally, I have had to deal with lots of race-day anxiety every time I get told I’ve got a race coming up.

Before this race, though, the feeling was different. I wasn’t nervous like I normally am. I was really excited. I can’t remember the last time that I was more excited than nervous about getting on the track and running. I was at peace with whatever the outcome would be because this was, truly, the end of the line. 

The race was slow. In my memory, it was actually the slowest 800 meters time that I ran during college. The 800m is a wonderful race if you are fit enough to run it. The problem with me was that I was not. To do well, you need a blend of great speed and great strength. At this point in time, I have neither.

My lasting memory of the race, however, was not the time. It was the finish. I did not go out fast enough to hang at the start and found myself in last with 200 meters to go. But I found another gear in my legs and finished strong, making my way up to a third-place finish in my heat. 

During that sprint to the finish and immediately after the race, I was in a lot of pain. My lungs burned, and my legs felt like jello. Anyone who has run the 800m, or has had to kick it in at the end of any race, knows those last 100 meters can get sloppy.

My kick also gave me another feeling I had not experienced in a long time, aside from searing pain throughout my body. It gave me the satisfaction of a strong finish. It is hard to describe, but closing out a race strong, and passing people while doing it, gives a level of satisfaction that is impossible to achieve outside of competition. 

It is not something that you can do every race. Sometimes you don’t have the juice to finish it out, or sometimes somebody just has a little bit more than you. On the occasions that you can pull it out and finish strong, though, there is really nothing like it.

I don’t know when I will get to experience that again. It might never happen. So, through all of the struggles and frustrations that I have dealt with because of track and field, I am happy to say that I was able to finish out my career without cutting it short.