Friday, July 21, 2017

My Running Story

When I was about 9 years old, my oldest brother started running on the high school cross country team. After my mom took me to all of his races, I started to catch the running bug. I'd ask to go on short runs with my brother after dinner. He would, quite literally, run circles around my sister and me.

My first race was during an elementary school field day. I ran the mile. I don't even remember how I did on that race, but I was so excited about running it, and I loved doing it. So my mom decided that I could get into the Hershey track program during the summer.  I started running with a group of kids at the local high school for practice.  I don't remember much about that. But I remember that for whatever reason, I decided to run the 200, 4x400 and mile. After the 200 I was mad (I'm not a sprinter) I didn't do well at all. I wanted to be like my brother and win the races. My mom had to bribe me to even run the other two races. And I did do better in those.
This picture is especially good quality....It's a picture of a blurry picture my mom got of me finishing my race.

After that experience, I decided that maybe running wasn't my thing. Maybe I should stick with dance.  So I took a good long break and focused on dance. But it wasn't as fun. There were a lot of cliques in my dance group,  there was way more drama, and there was hardly any fun competition. I danced through Jr high, and then my mom gave me a choice: Dance or running. I couldn't do both. Running for sure! Get me out of the drama.

I started high school when my sister was a senior. She was on the track and cross country teams like me, but she did swimming instead of dance (that was probably a better option too). I jumped in with two feet and I was determined. But, I was also injury prone and I was stubborn so I didn't want to listen to my body, my coaches, or trainers. It didn't take long for shin splints to settle in and I battled them all through my freshmen year. I decided I needed to try different shoes and so I started wearing Mizuno instead of Nike. New shoes + icing and stretching = I made it through the season without too much trouble.

The next year didn't go as well. I ran with my team through the summer without injury and I was excited because I was on my way to a varsity slot. And then, right after school started and I was running stairs and I pulled something in my foot. I could hardly walk on it and they thought that there was a chance that it wasn't a pull but a fracture. Goodbye varsity. I had to take some time off. But as soon as I could stand it, I'd go out on a run on my own. Stubborn. My foot gradually felt better, but I as I was recovering, all my teammates were all improving. The amount of frustration and slight embarrassment (since my siblings were all really good athletes) was pretty high.

Junior year seemed like it would be a little more promising. I was healthy again. I had new drive. I was in good shape. I also had a new assistant coach who really connected with me and my needs. I started PRing again. (He bribed me with pie so...) I made it through cross country and ended that on a good note and then at the beginning of track season, I pulled my butt muscle.  To say that I was disappointed is an understatement. Things just can't happen the easy way for me. I also got teased endlessly about this injury since I have no idea how it happened. And it honestly was really funny.  This injury was the fastest recovery for me though because I had a coach that lived pretty close to my family, and I knew he would see me if I snuck out for a run when I was supposed to be resting.

I recovered well from that one, and I was just happy to be running again senior year. I just wanted to be healthy enough to run and race. That goal was met through cross country. I dealt with more shin splints but nothing I thought I couldn't handle.  A few weeks before my last race, I went out for a run. It was a little extra painful on my shins but I didn't pay too much attention.  We, runners, try to run through the pain. But that's not always the best option. When I got home I noticed a quarter sized lump on my shin right where it was hurting. Great. I took a week off, and I started feeling better so I didn't mention it to my coaches.  I ran my last race.  That race was full of steep hills. Going down the switchbacks, I felt that pain again and had to slow down to almost a walk for the rest of the race. I finished dead fact I finished with the race after mine. Two really nice guys from a California team carried me out the running shoot so I could go get a trainer. They were pretty sure it was a fracture.

I took off indoor season altogether. I'd learned my lesson. I didn't run at all until outdoor track started and then I ran cautiously. The head coach wouldn't put me in any of my regular races. Again, the frustration and embarrassment were enough for me to try to quit the team. My coach (the assistant coach, who I think of as MY coach) talked me out of quitting.

I took a good long break after high school. I ran for fun, I ran randomly when I wanted or felt like I needed to, but I didn't try to run on a team or race much at all.  Then my cousin moved into town. She is a runner too. We started running together and decided to run a race. I've talked about that race a couple times.  After that, I was back into it in a much healthier way. I wasn't competing with anyone but myself. I wasn't on a team and I wasn't letting anyone down.

Since then (2007) I've been running that way. I run for me. I've run several 5ks. I've improved and PRed more than I ever did in high school. And I haven't had much of any injury since then.

Whew...that was long. If you made it this far, thanks for reading :)

What is something you've done for most of your life?

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