Inside Athletics

Thomas Vandenberg - Senior Reflection 2015

Thomas Vandenberg - Senior Reflection 2015

The first track workout my freshman year: Imagine running up a ridiculously steep hill in the cold windy, dark night. You have so many layers on you have a liter of sweat unable to escape but your face is frozen solid. You spend all your effort pumping your arms to get up the hill you don’t bother wasting your energy talking to the runner next to you. When you get to the top, if you make it, you look up and see an ominous dark ‘Pitt Indoor Track’ sign. Coach is waiting inside with his stopwatch. All that was a “warm up.” You now have to begin the “workout.” Why did I sign up for track again?

Fast forward to this year. I have grown a lot in many ways since then. At some point during this season, I’ll have raced over 100 times in a Carnegie Mellon uniform. Being able to succeed and improve week after week, season after season is definitely no guarantee when it comes to running. Hard work, smart training and an incredible team has now made breaking 1:50 in the 800m and winning nationals in reach.

What has made running easier at Carnegie Mellon has been the team that I have been on throughout all four years here. I have been able to succeed because of the great support system around me. I have had to struggle up the hill on the way to Pitt’s indoor track but it has been alongside teammates. I have had teammates train after their season is over just so I could put that much more effort in a workout preparing for nationals. I have had teammates to workout with during early morning weekend and carnival practices. I have had coaches travel across the country on the weekends and holidays so they could watch me run for less than two minutes. I have had teammates stand in the rain cheering for me. I have had coaches and teammates, both whom have become friends, give advice on and off the track. Above all, I have had a team that has supported, pushed and motivated me enough to make my lofty goals as a freshman now in reach.

I have had so many memorable moments while on the team that I cannot name them all. Winning the 4X400 on our track at UAAs freshman year, breaking the school record, winning UAAs as a team sophomore year, all the relay victories at conferences and achieving All-American Honors are just some of the many highlights. If I had to summarize what I have taken away it would be to have fun in whatever you are doing, never get too high on accomplishments or too low on defeats.

One day you’re spending every second trying to get into college and the next you’re reflecting on the four years that speed by. Although the time has flew by, throughout the last four years and three seasons, I have experienced and grown a lot as an individual. I would be lying if I said that being on the CMU track and field team wasn’t an integral part of my college experience. It has shaped me as a person and I am grateful to be a Tartan.