It’s a weird thing, running. Isn’t it? The act almost takes on a persona of its own. Like any other relationship, there are good days and bad days; rough patches, moments of elation… I think you get the idea.
My relationship with running has always been very hot and cold but not in a bad way. I’ll start with middle school.
7th grade was the time when we, as students, were able to start going out for modified sports teams. (Modified is like a step under junior varsity). A group of close friends of mine all thought that it would be fun to go out for the track team. Track was an easy team to get onto because we didn’t have to grow up playing organized soccer or lacrosse every weekend to get good at the sport. There were also no tryouts and no chance of ever getting cut from the team. All we needed to do was run. It was that simple. Shouldn’t it always be? Our coach was new to coaching track that season so I feel like we were all starting off on this new adventure together. I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I bought some Nikes (mostly because I liked the color) and showed up at practice the first day with no expectations.
Fast forward to my first track meet. I don’t have a lot of vivid memories during my first season of track, but I can still picture my first ever 200m race at home against Henniger High School like it was yesterday. Like I said, no expectations. It was early spring (so in Central New York is was not warm) and we were waiting by the 200m start by the scoreboard at our home field. The official tells us to take our lanes (I think I was in lane 1). I looked around and then before I knew it, the gun went off and I ran. I ran as fast as I could. We rounded the corner and I was coming down the straight-away and the crowd was loud. It took me a second to realize that there was no one in front of me… and there was the finish line. I had just won my first 200m sprint for my track team. And that was that. I was a runner.
The rest of the season was a great learning experience most of all. It wasn’t until 8th grade when I knew that I wanted to take this sport on in high school. By this time I had broken the middle school record for the triple jump and I was getting good at sprinting so things were looking up for me.
This was a totally different beast. I think the best part about being on the high school team was having some really great girls to look up to. To me, they were seasoned runners and really experienced. They loved the sport and I wanted to be just like them. Overall, I had a really great experience in high school and I know a lot of people can’t say that. For some, high school was traumatic and all they wanted to do was get out. Not me. I loved high school and being on the varsity track team was a huge reason why I can say that. I’ll tell you about my favorite race of my freshman year. The sectional championship meet happened every year. It was the last real team effort meet for us before individual runners went on to state qualifiers. This was our chance to prove our team was the best. I don’t ever recall running the 400m in middle school but for some reason, Coach T thought I could take it on this time around. I don’t even remember if I had raced a 400 before this sectional meet but I was naive enough to go for it. I was originally slated for the 100m dash and I remember this because of the homemade tshirts we made the night before. They were turquoise tank tops and we took sharpies and wrote all of our events down the back. When I found out I was switched to the 400, my friend took her sharpie and changed the ‘1’ into a ‘4’ that afternoon. Just like that.
I warmed up in my racing flats a few minutes before and the nerves were pretty calm. I toed the starting line (I was so new at this, I don’t even know if I used starting blocks). The gun went off and I ran. Hard. The other girls in the race were FAST and I could tell that they had run this race many times before. As soon as I hit the 2nd turn, I realized that the last 100m were going to be the hardest thing I had ever done. I remember seeing Coach T at the last straight-away practically jumping up and down on the sidelines (something that I had never seen before and it was awesome) and I was in position to get at least 3rd place! I was losing steam but I kept powering through the dreaded ‘wall’ and actually ended up in 4th. Not too bad right? It was actually quite good for the sectional meet but I didn’t realize how good of a race it was.
The rest of my high school career was great. I do have to say that freshman year was my best. I think it was all because of my naivety and inexperience to be honest. Going into that season with no expectations and a lot of nerves is what got me to the finish line the fastest. No other race stands out to me like the sectionals open 400m freshman year. Thanks Coach T!
After high school, I kind of took a break from running. I was off to college so there were a lot of changes in my life and I wanted to make the college transition as smooth as possible. My first year of college was pretty rocky but luckily I was close to home which definitely helped. Once I got into a groove, I realized that working out was relaxing for me. It was how I de-stressed and found solace. The fitness center on campus was really nice and I found out that most of the staff there were students. In an instant, I wanted a job there. Getting paid to help people workout and have fun? I was there. It also helped when I had a shift at the front desk or equipment room because I could always get homework done. Once I started working there, I found myself doing more weight training and various types of cardio. (I hate running on a treadmill).
It wasn’t until senior year when I started to get back into running. My friends and I had moved off campus and our house was walking distance to this wonderful nature trail. (See below). I ran this trail almost everyday. It was peaceful and woodsy and I really felt like my truest self running there (as cheesy as that sounds). Until the weather turned, I ran here as much as I could. Senior year flew by and before I knew it, graduation was upon me. After making the decision to move back out to LA, running had been put on the back burner once again.
It wasn’t until a little over a year ago when I decided that I truly missed running and everything that came with it. The runner’s high, enjoying the outdoors, the community and the races were all things that I missed. My friends here in LA had signed up for a Color Run here in LA. It was a 5k and I thought to myself, ‘it’s only 3 miles I can totally do that’. I trained a little and boy that was tough. I think back on that now and know that I could have been smarter about it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the race. It was fun and colorful but it was more of a wake up call. I knew I had to get serious if I wanted to stick with running and get better.
This year, I wanted to take running a lot more seriously. I had been reading another running blog that was by one of my old teammates from high school. She was a senior when I was a freshman and I always looked up to her. She’s a marathoner and a much more experienced runner but reading her blog really got me motivated to get back running and take on new goals. If you couldn’t already tell, I was a sprinter in high school. Short distances were my thing. I was good a it. Now let’s go back to the moment I decided to sign up for a half marathon. That is not a short distance. I had a new goal and I crushed it.
I’ve been posting about all of my wonderful running experiences on this blog so without going through all of that again, just scroll down from this post and read about my other experiences. I love writing this blog and I love hearing about how people are actually reading it. I am so happy that you do!
All in all, I love running. I love to hate it sometimes when that one run doesn’t go as planned and I love to love it when you have those moments when you feel like you could fly. My relationship with running is going to be lifelong. I’ve met some amazing people through my running group and I hope these friendships last a lifetime. I hope to someday inspire someone else to develop a relationship with running. Believe me, it’s worth it! You never know what kind of person you can become all because you decided to go out for a run.