Dear younger Duane,
Remember the very first time you run, because soon enough you won't believe the lengths it will take you.
NCAA All-American. World Championships. Olympian. USA Champion.
Remember those roads. Remember those curves. Remember the feeling of wind rushing through your hair.
Please know, success won't be easy. It will be a long, hard road. You'll lose. You'll feel the pain of sacrifice. You'll come up short on your goals. But remember, those experiences will only make you stronger.
Remember the first time you run a Turkey Trot. Take pride in what it will do for your family, providing food on the table for Thanksgiving. Keep doing it, year after year.
And know that running did that.
Soon enough, you'll understand what potential can do, and you'll make the hardest decision of your life, giving up your first love (basketball) for your second (track).
But determination will set you apart.
You'll follow-up failure at states in California with success the very next year in the 800m.
And don't forget to cry, because moments like that won't always come around. Emotion will free you.
A scholarship to the University of Southern California will come. And you will run in championship races. You'll find yourself there, as a person, as an athlete.
You'll receive recognition, and you will deserve every second of it.
But remember in those moments that they are a testament to your hard work, and they are the Lord's gift to you.
Know that as you keep running, you'll keep dreaming.
You'll make the Olympic Trials not once, not twice, but three times. You'll fall short that first time. It will make you rethink your entire career. But don't listen to that, either.
Know that you're stronger. Understand that you have a passion for success.
Just four years later, you'll get your second chance. And when you're racing in that 800, thinking you're in a different world, never lose confidence. Know that nothing is impossible, not even that race time you thought you'd never achieve.
Soak in the Olympics. Because this is your dream. And it's a moment you'll never forget.
Run in that final like it's the last time you'll ever race. And keep pressing until you can't give anymore.
Fourth? Third? Second? First? It really doesn't matter.
Because in that race, you'll find that first memory you ever had, and you'll zero in on it.
You'll remember those roads in California, those curves, that wind.
And when you make that final turn? You'll see the finish line. You'll make your dreams come true. You'll finish fourth in a career best 1:42.82.
It won't be your happiest moment ever.
Soon enough, you'll become a father. You'll see your child's eyes for the first time.
Running will continue to put food on the table. And your motivation to see your kids grow up just like you will deepen.
You'll never dwell on failures too long, and you'll always understand that one success always leads to another.
But running? That's your journey. It's your destiny.
If nothing else, always remember one thing.
This is not the end of your story young man. This is not the end of your story. Keep going.
Your biggest fan,