My life as a professional athlete and coach today is tied to a brief moment over a decade ago that planted a seed I’ve been watering ever since. Every year, the best forty high school runners in Washington state race the best forty runners in Oregon at the end of the cross-country season in a race called Border Clash. During my sophomore year of high school, I managed to squeak into the race as an alternate because enough of the girls that had finished ahead of me at the state championship decided not to go. That year, the guest speaker after the pre-race dinner was Olympian Shalane Flanagan. She didn’t mince words and I liked that. “Sure”, she said, “The odds are against you”. She looked out at the group of us, 160 of the finest young runners in the Northwest and told us that the odds were that none of us, not one, would become a professional runner. Many would simply not improve enough, most would quit, and others would be sidelined by injuries and distractions and life. But maybe, maybe, one of us had what it took. Maybe one of us was willing to push hard enough, to give enough of ourselves to make it happen.