Gavin Sherry is a senior at Conard High School in West Hartford, Connecticut. He's the reigning New Balance Nationals Indoor 2-mile champion and is coming off a cross country season where he finished third at the Eastbay Cross Country Championships, first at the New England Championship and first at the CIAC State Open Championships. With one more outdoor campaign left before a date with Stanford University, Sherry will hope to build off a brilliant junior season that saw him run a time of 4:01.88 for 1,600m, 4:07.20 for the mile and 8:47.20 for the 3,200m. Here, he makes Dear Running his own with various interpretations on the sport.
"Who will be left standing, hardened by the process, and who will bend and shatter? Each race, we are left alone to make this decision, to fight or to concede, and it is my goal to choose to fight every single time."
Ever since I could perceive the concept of competition, I have been entranced, addicted to the idea. To pit yourself against the masses, completely exposed in the honesty of hard work, just you, the opposition, and a single question: who wants it more? Nothing could be more exhilarating. To me, running is competition in its purest form. Refined in its beautiful simplicity, running is the ultimate test of the human spirit. Throwing one foot in front of the other, battling against gravity, the wind, other athletes, and most importantly, against yourself. Fighting the war of maintaining an iron will within your own doubt-ridden mind, refusing to bend under the pounding of the hammer that is your brutal cadence. Who will be left standing, hardened by the process, and who will bend and shatter? Each race, we are left alone to make this decision, to fight or to concede, and it is my goal to choose to fight every single time. Why? Because...
"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine
I love running. Whether it's the cool foggy morning of a Saturday long run, the magical sensation of flying around the bank of an indoor track, or the lonesome battle of an outdoor workout in the heat, running has become a necessity in my life. Running is my partner in celebration, the vent for my fuming exasperations, and my forever friend. Now, that's not to say that we always, one hundred percent of the time, cooperate. An inexplicable pain deep in the quad, a rapid tightening of the hip flexor, a relentless, incessant pain in the shin that hurts when you start running and then warms up and feels better but still hurts to press on it and doesn't change for weeks yet mysteriously ceases to exist when racing.....you get the idea. Lonely running shoes growing dusty on the shoe rack. Jumping into the bone-chilling water of the pool, locking yourself into inevitable suffering with the snap of bike clips, escaping under the tattered shelter that the "pain cave" provides. It is times like these when the going gets rough, when the future appears blurry, when doubt fills the mind like a dark cumulonimbus cloud, panic flashing through the mindscape like lightning. It is times like these that make people think of quitting. Yet, on the other side of the very same coin, it is also times like these that make the sweet moments just that much sweeter.
Running has taught me that success does not present itself in a linear fashion. Just like climbing up a mountain, each time you think you've finally reached the summit, you crest the slope only to look up and see yet another looming peak. Head down, trudging onwards, it feels as though you have traveled nowhere, pointlessly spending valuable effort on an impossible cause. Until you look back. Only when you stop and turn around do you see the interminable, winding trail vanishing into the long-forgotten distance from which you began. Only then do you realize how high your struggle has brought you. Only then do you realize, as the magnificent view unfolds before your eyes, how beautiful the journey truly is. And so you turn back around, face the ever-ascending mountain, and smile as you begin to climb once again.
Running has taught me that it is impossible to reach your potential. Why, you ask? Because your potential is infinite. There is always more water in the well, always more gas in the tank. You might not be able to reach it today, but maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after tomorrow, maybe the next. Limits are boundless, and potential is infinite. And it is for that exact reason, that greed is essential to success. I believe that in order to be the best, one must possess insatiable greed, never to be satisfied, always hungry. An endless potential is meaningless on its own. It must be paired with an endless void known as greed in order to become something truly special. That is how champions are born.
The Eternal Warrior
Running is painful. The desperate cry of oxygen-deprived muscles. The panicked heaving of exhausted lungs stretching your skin to what feels like its breaking point. The fiery burning of feet drumming away on the unforgiving rubber of the track. Despite this pain, I continue. Or maybe, just maybe, I continue because of it. Running is simultaneously soul-crushing, exhilarating, ugly, and beautiful. But most of all, beyond anything else, running is addicting. The moment you cross that finish line, collapsing onto the track or grass, the taste of competing fresh on your palate, you realize; you are in love. That is why no matter how far I fall, no matter how much it hurts, I will step back onto the track, and I will fight. I will forever be a runner, a warrior of pain, hopelessly in love.
Running has taught me that success does not present itself in a linear fashion. Just like climbing up a mountain, each time you think you've finally reached the summit, you crest the slope only to look up and see yet another looming peak.
Thank You Running
Thank you running, for all you have given me. You have given me strength, resilience, patience, desire, and most of all, you have given me purpose. For that, I am eternally in your debt. So, as a token of my gratitude, I dedicate to you three poems, one for each of the wonderful seasons of the sport you've created. I hope you enjoy.
- Your forever friend, Gavin Sherry
A crisp, cloudless, pale blue sky
The earthy scent of wet grass and mud
The bending of sunlight through an orange and yellow canopy, dappling the ground with golden spots
The iridescent sparkle of fresh dew on rolling hills of green
The quivering of goosebump-covered legs before an infinitely long white line
A sharp inhale
The crack of the gun
Colossal buildings scraping the snowy heavens
The unmistakable smell of competition
The stormy thundering of spikes on faded rubber
The tremendous cacophony of cheering, reverberating throughout the stadium
The glistening of sweat-covered athletes illuminated in fluorescent light
A nervous glance up at the jumbo-screen
A mad-dash for the tape
Shimmering mirages of heat waves blanketing the earth
The vibrant mosaic of sunglasses reflecting from aluminum stands
The inescapable glare of a fiery sun
The icy satisfaction of water trickling down the spine
The glowing numbers of the clock snapping into shape
A butterfly fluttering into the sky while butterflies flutter in stomachs
The start of a race, and the beginning of a battle
Conard High School '22
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