As the race started, the negative thoughts poured out of her almost as fast as beads of sweat.
But by the end of the race, she had earned a medal and professed herself a runner for life.
“After we did our first race, I was addicted,” Tilcock said. “Running is tough sometimes, but totally worth it, especially after you finish a race. You are so proud of what you have just done.”
Tilcock’s addiction has fueled victories throughout her three years on the track, where she has excelled in the 1600- and 3200-meter races for the Falcons track team.
Tilcock has won all eight 1600-meter events this season, and all but one of her 3200-meter events. She finished second in her first 3200 of the year, March 7, in a dual meet against Liberty.
Tilcock has also finished second at the Bay Valley Athletic League Cross Country Championships two years in a row. “She is a tremendous runner with a lot of potential to get a scholarship,” said junior teammate Austin Hinds.
According to Freedom distance coach Alicia Wiley, Tilcock has the perfect combination of talent, drive and support from her parents to be a successful runner. “It’s hard to put it into words,” Wiley said.” She is extremely dedicated, goal-oriented and easy to coach. Her parents are always at the meets – proud of her.”
Tilcock’s father, an accomplished runner who still competes in Bay Area marathons, introduced her to running when he invited her to a race when she was 12. The experience, said Tilcock, expanded to weekend runs that allowed father and daughter to bond – and injected an element of training into the outing.
“Out of anyone I have met, I think he loves running the most,” Tilcock said of her father. “He inspires me. During races, he gives me tips and is very supportive.”
Success isn’t foreign to Tilcock. She excelled in the classroom long before she began running and is currently carrying a 4.37 grade point average.
While Tilcock mulls over her future, including the prospect of athletic and academic scholarships still in the air, her feet are firmly planted on the ground. “I had her in my Algebra II class,” said Wiley, “and I didn’t see any difference compared to how she performs out here. She is dedicated in the classroom and dedicated out here, so it transfers over real well.”
Tilcock is determined to get a personal-best time of 12:10 in the 3600 meters Saturday at the BVAL Championships.
Unlike three years ago, Tilcock will step to the starting line on Saturday brimming with confidence. Her dad’s supportive tips will help feed her overwhelming drive to succeed. But whether she sets her personal-best time or not, she’ll continue to run.
“I think I will be running for the rest of my life,” Tilcock said. “It’s kind of a lifestyle.”