Sophie Jimenez is a sophomore cross country and track and field athlete at Fresno State University and is a graduate of Central High School in Fresno, California. She's posted college bests of 59.22 seconds in the 400m and 2:12.84 in the 800m. Jimenez writes about her journey with running since the cancellation of her season.
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"One of my main goals is to focus more on myself. It's easy for me to find joy focusing on other people, but I'm working in the coming months to find more happiness from within."
By Sophie Jimenez - Fresno State University
I have now officially lost my sophomore season twice. That's a sophomore slump if I've ever heard of one.
This was supposed to be the Year of the Soph, but it wouldn't be so without some unexpected turns. Throughout my running career I've faced all types of challenges and adversity, some self-imposed and others out of my control. So this time period of uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic is just another challenge to overcome.
During my sophomore year of high school, I tore my ACL playing soccer and was not able to compete in any high school athletics for that entire year. I know all too well what it feels like to have your season taken away from you. My heart goes out to the high school athletes, especially those who have had their seasons cut short. For me, this time around is different because I'm not watching everyone continue to compete while I fight back from injury. We're all in this together. I'm choosing to see this period of competitive limbo as my opportunity to gain training time back that was lost during my high school years.
Though many things that we once took for granted are gone for now, running has been the one thing that has remained constant in my life. Battling back from injury taught me years ago to appreciate the ability to run, and it's my hope that we as a society will feel the same way about life's little freedoms and spending time with the people we love.
My first year of collegiate athletics brought its own challenges of leaving behind my beloved high school team and joining a new group into a world I knew nothing about. During high school I was a sprinter, but I was recruited to be a middle distance/distance runner at the collegiate level. It was difficult adjusting to this new team and completely different training program, but I grew to love my new life as a distance runner and adore my team. Sadly, just as I was enjoying life with my teammates, now I am no longer able to see them. I have been training completely alone for over a month and will continue to do so into the indefinite future. Although the most difficult part is missing my training buddies, I'm making these necessary sacrifices to protect myself and my family from possible COVID-19 infection. On the upside, I feel confident about my abilities to continue to improve and develop my heart as a distance runner. This time has bestowed the gift of continued training as I prepare for my main race, the 800m. For a new distance runner such as myself, having this time to build upon weeks of training is so valuable for me early on in my collegiate career.
The social isolation aspect of our current predicament is one of the hardest parts of getting through this time. When I tore my ACL, I had my family and friends who I relied on for support. At the moment I have only my immediate family to draw support from and I cannot rely on my friends as much as I would like (given the need for social distance). I'm learning how to better take care of and heal myself on my own. I was used to being able to divert attention from my emotions by surrounding myself with others, but now I can no longer do this. This solitude has allowed me to heal quickly in ways that I don't know I would have been able to otherwise without confronting my emotions head on with no distractions. One of my main goals is to focus more on myself. It's easy for me to find joy focusing on other people, but I'm working in the coming months to find more happiness from within.
As far as I know, no definitive decision has been made in terms of eligibility for collegiate athletes. My hope is to compete in outdoor track and field during my fifth year of eligibility. I'm incredibly grateful that I most likely will not "lose" my sophomore season of college track.
I'm very grateful for the continued support I've received from my coaches, staff, teammates from Fresno State, family, and friends. Our athletic director Terry Tumey has made a point of supporting his athletes by creating video messages for us and sending each student-athlete a shirt that says "No Dogs Down." I have appreciated every gesture he has taken to both sympathize with his athletes and encourage us to continue to boldly strive to improve athletically and finish the semester strong academically. Supporting each other through these uncertain times is so important; my job is to be there for my teammates, family, and community as best I can. The support I've received has made me realize there is more I could be doing as a citizen of my community to help others get through this crisis. I plan to look for creative ways to make this time easier for others.
Though many things that we once took for granted are gone for now, running has been the one thing that has remained constant in my life. Battling back from injury taught me years ago to appreciate the ability to run, and it's my hope that we as a society will feel the same way about life's little freedoms and spending time with the people we love. I can go on my runs every day and this brings a sense of normalcy to my life. We don't know when things will begin returning back to normal, but I do know one thing: This dog ain't down.
Sophie G. Jiménez
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