Describe what RUNNING is to you:
STRESS RELIEF! Exercise was always my way of releasing stress. Ever since my mom moved out when I was in the seventh grade, running helped me to cope with my difficult situations and get rid of all my bottled up emotions. Once I began running, there was no one who could stop me. It also helped that I come from a small beach town in Oregon with an endless amount of trails to run on, and beautiful scenery no matter where I ventured.
How did you get started running? What inspired you to run?
Running was something I did for myself, until I got to high school. I was approached by the cross country coach who also happened to be an academic advisor at the school. He was so welcoming and friendly, and he made me understand that I didn’t have to be the fastest on the team in order to compete. I decided to join because I couldn't see any downsides to staying in shape. I played other sports in high school too, so the one of the best parts about cross-country season was that I was always ready for my other sports.
I quickly learned that runners are unlike any other athlete. Runners are unique in the way that they are friendly to all competition, easy to get along with, inspirational, and have a kind of optimism that helps them to break down any challenges. It’s hard to find people in other forms of competition where the people who are about to compete against each other, get dinner the night before. Not only that, but during the races, everyone cheered for everyone simply because there was a common idea of the struggle that all runners face at some point in their face. All the cross-country high school events that I competed in had this sense of community where it didn’t matter what school was being represented on your jersey, because running brought everyone together. And, it wasn’t just the athletes; families, sponsors, and coaches all came together during the events. I never felt so comfortable and appreciated as I did when I was involved with the cross country team.
Your favorite running moment?
My favorite running moment is something that I watched happen, rather than something that happened to me. It was at the district cross country meet during my senior year in high school, and the weather conditions were horrible. The wind was blowing at least 30 mph, rain was pouring sideways, and it was flat out painful to be outside. However, that didn’t stop our athletic director from putting on the race.
As soon as the horn went off at the beginning of the race, it felt like I was running into a wall because the wind was so fierce and heavy. You could tell that everyone felt the struggle because wherever you looked, things seemed to be going in slow motion. Nevertheless, people were still there with support and we all did whatever we could to make it through the finish line.
After I completed the race, my teammates greeted me with water and encouraged me to quickly throw on my warm up gear so that we could make our way back to cheer on another girl on the team. I grabbed all my stuff and jogged over to an area of the race where a larger girl on my team was struggling to keep a pace. She progressively slowed down to a walk until she saw the entire crowd cheering her on. You could see the pain in her eyes as she tried everything she could to keep going, even though she was the last one on the course. One of my teammates tugged at my hand and pulled me under the rope--the only thing keeping us from being on the course. Other teams followed, and soon enough, everyone from every team was running alongside this girl, bringing her into the finish line. I remember being so tired because I had just finished my own race, but as soon as everyone joined together to run with this girl, I gained my energy back and nothing could stop us. It was incredible to see how we could all come together when one girl was in need.
What do you think you'd be like today if you did NOT run?
If I didn’t have running in my life, I would be someone with a lot of built up anger and emotion. I love running because it makes me feel better, emotionally and physically.
Why do you keep on running and running and running...?
I keep running, because it keeps me alive. It awakens me and gets rid of all the negativity in my life, serving as the greatest stress reliever of all time.
What is your favorite post run/race indulgence?
My favorite post run indulgence is a large glass of chocolate milk!
Oddest, most unusual, weirdest running experience...
My weirdest running experience happened one summer when the temperature was in the 90s and I was signed up to run a short 3k. I was really dreading it because I am not accustomed to the heat and I thought I could potentially collapse at any time during the race. I ran the same race the year before so I knew the course pretty well and since it was a shorter distance, I decided to just buck up and go for it.
The gun went off, and I made my way into the heat wave. It was the most miserable experience of my life, feeling the sun soak up my sweat, and smelling the body odor of all the people rubbing up next to me. I was so disgusted that I was encouraged to run faster and get a front spot in the pack where there wasn’t a conglomeration of people. As I continued to run, I lost track of everything going on and the heat made me feel like I was just barely going through the motions. It was then that I started to see people running toward me and I felt like I was in some sort of dream. It was so weird because I was doing everything I could to keep my body moving while amongst these other runners who were coming straight at me. I soon found out that I had taken a wrong turn and ran the race completely backwards. It was such a weird concept to me that I was so out of it, I ran a familiar race backwards and didn’t even realize it. Word of advice: the heat can do some strange things to you!
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