PTXC Journal: Patrick Anderson Looks To The Future

Flashback to December 14, 2019.

Foot Locker National Championships.

The best day of my high school racing career.

I finished third in the country, my worst finish of the entire season. I went to bed that night with a smile on my face as I thought about everything I had accomplished throughout the fall: an undefeated season, a WPIAL title, a successfully defended state title, a regional title and a podium finish at Nationals. It couldn't have gone much better.

In the following weeks, as I took a deserved break, I thought about the future and my goals for the rest of the year. I had had a great cross country season, but I was hungry for more. I wanted to win indoor and outdoor state titles, I wanted to be on the podium at indoor nationals, I wanted to run well at Penn Relays, I wanted to qualify for Brooks, I wanted to capture school records and I wanted to end my high school career with a great spring season with my team.

After I came up short in both the mile and 3K at indoor states, I was angry with myself. I hadn't lost that way in a long time. I used it as motivation to go harder though, and I was fired up for indoor nationals. I had just barely missed the qualifying standard the year before, and this would be my first time racing at the Armory. As things progressed with the virus, however, my chances of getting to race at the famed track grew slimmer. When I found out that NBNI was officially cancelled, it was tough to hear but a decision that was expected by that point.

I had no option but to look ahead to my spring track season. That changed, too, when the bell rang on Friday, March 13. We were told we would be off for a few weeks, and it seemed like a great thing at first: an extended spring break during the second semester of senior year. As it progressed, it became far from a great thing. Soon enough, school was cancelled for the rest of the year and, with that, all spring sports. Nobody knew that that Friday practice would be our last official practice together. Nobody knew that there would be no WPIALs, no states and likely no outdoor nationals.

Everything is fluid right now though, and we have to adapt to change. Throughout the past few weeks, I have had a lot of time to think about my high school running career. Though it's unfortunate that I will have ended by missing out on two indoor state titles, thinking about what I could have done differently is not beneficial. Likewise, feeling sorry for myself about missing out on my senior track season and everything else that comes with being a second semester senior would do me no good. I have no option but to look to the future and think about the positive sides of the situation that I am in. I'm grateful for everything that I have been able to accomplish throughout high school, and if missing some track meets is my biggest worry right now, then I think I'm pretty blessed. I think it's important to realize that this is a lot bigger than track, and it's a lot bigger than any single person.

There are a lot of good things that will come out of this. Though not what I envisioned the end of my senior year looking like, it has been nice to spend time with my family. I have turned my focus to finishing out my schoolwork and looking ahead to next year. I'm excited to be heading to UNC, and I'm even more excited about the program that we're going to build there. Since school has been cancelled, the incoming freshmen have been a lot more involved with team meetings, and everyone is focused on doing what they can with the situation they're in. I have started to transition from my high school training plan to my college training plan, and I think this early transition will benefit me this summer. It will allow me to build up mileage and better prepare myself for college cross country. Knowing that everyone else on the team is working hard for next year already is good motivation, and even though we don't know each other well yet, we're all on the same page.

When it comes down to it, it's a hard situation all over the world right now, but the only thing you can do is focus on the things you can control. I'm going to do just that. I'm grateful for everything this sport has given me over the past few years, and I'm excited about what the future holds.