The Next Mile


Gia Maldonado

Praxedis Velasco Martinez as photographed by Gia Maldonado

“I started running in the sixth grade, to pass time,” said Praxedis, a 10th grader in SAS who’s just a year into cross country.  “I never planned to be a part of a team.” But over time he realized cross country was more to him than just passing time. It taught him many valuable life lessons, giving him a place to focus and build discipline.

“I often compared myself to my friends who were fast, or more disciplined,” Praxedis said. “Then I realized they focused on being better than themselves.” He said he lives his life through this line: “Everyday I will out do myself.” 

It was never that competitive drive that primarily drove Prax to excel in cross country, it was the self discipline and the added mental strength that gave him motivation. “It was to prove to myself that work, even if it’s hard, can make me a little better everyday,” he said.

So when he was in the process of selecting a high school,  he came upon Hamilton’s cross country team and sent Coach Traylor an email. He wanted to get more involved in the sport.

 At the start of the season, “I was content when I was even hitting 30 min,” Prax said. His first 3 mile race “was in the 30-40 min range,” that’s around 10-13 minutes a mile. And if you’re new to cross country, they stop the clock at 30 min. 

Prax said what really challenged him was his state of mind. I could give up close to a hundred times when my body never gave up on me once,” he said. “I understood the reason why people quit. You get comfortable with what you achieve, and staying there in that mindset is what makes us get tired and quit.” 

To improve himself he started running seven miles, around twice as much as the required 3 miles, as often as possible. He got to the point where he could run all 7 miles with no stops. 

He finally beat the clock. Three months after his first race, he finished with a time of 26 minutes. “Right when the gun shot, the first thing on my mind was a quote, si se puede.” His parents always encouraged him with these words, which mean “you can do it.”

And for the rest of the race what went through his mind this time was “the support from the team and my family.” This time there was “no thoughts of what’s the next step. It was now a matter of when’s the next mile.”