12 October 2006

My Relationship with Running

I hated running as a kid. I absolutely detested it in P.E. class. So, when my 7th grade coach made all the girls in athletics TRY running, I had no choice. It turned out, I was a decent sprinter. But, I wanted to do more than that. So, I became a hurdler for 100m & 300m distances, and I also did the long jump and triple jump. She put me on a few relay teams, but I wasn't really into that zone of transition thing. So, I stuck with hurdles and jumps and brought home lots of hardware in junior high.

In spite of being a speedster, I had a mental block about distance running. I considered the mile distance running, and I hated running much more than 1.5 miles.

So, when my junior high coach told me to run cross-country in high school, I looked at her like she was nuts. She told me to do it in order to build endurance for basketball season. Basketball was HUGE at Cedar Hill, TX. I competed in sports with other gals who grew up dribbling basketballs as soon as they could walk . . . many of them went on to play Division I and Division II ball in college. Compared to them, I was very, very average. But, I stuck to it and played on the team. So, the thought at increasing my advantage in basketball by running in cross-country was quite appealing.

I ran cross-country and hated it. This was a co-ed team led by an award-winning coach who took cross-country athletes to the state finals every season. I was the worst, and at best, second-worst runner on the team. In the summer, we ran twice a day. The hills of Cedar Hill are quite unforgiving. Every night after training, I was in excruciating pain, and I dreaded getting up the next morning to get more pain inflicted on me for 6am and 2pm sessions. Since I never quit anything, I stuck with it.
Eventually, I was able to complete 3 mile training runs without walking or stopping which surprised me and built up my confidence. The entire season, I waited for the coach to cut me from the team, but she never did. Instead, she entered all the runners who stuck with the training in local meets.

On one particular race, I started gaining on a few of the sophomore girls from my team who were also competing in the J.V. division. One of the girls asked me to run with her so she had company. I had a lot of strength and speed left, and I felt I could have totally whipped past her, but I was loyal to my teammate. After she regained her strength, she ditched me. I think she just didn't want the worst runner on the team to pass her, so she made up some pity story for me to stick with her. I never fell for that one again. Also, when we ran at meets under the hot Texas sun, I couldn't believe how many runners I passed in the competitions. At one point in the course that we frequented several times during the season, my coach yelled at me to pass the two girls ahead of me. She said that I trained and they didn't. Those words stuck with me, and I tore it up until I passed them and made it through the chute.

I may have been the worst one on the state champion cross-country team, but I trained among some of the best runners in the state. I actually had the ability to beat runners from other schools, and I pushed past my mental blocks of what I was capable of running in distance, and I became a runner my freshman year of high school.

Basketball never really worked out for me, anyway. Once I was in high school, it no longer became a game, but a chore working with a divided team and a freshman coach who hated coaching basketball. So, I ended my bout with basketball and athletics at Cedar Hill high school. But, I kept running. I ran to destress, to stay fit, and to MOVE.

I had to run often in college for Air Force ROTC physical fitness tests & field training. Once I was on active duty, I started competing in sprint-distance triathlons, and again came the running training.

Now, I'm training for my first half-marathon. I run because I have a goal in mind: to finish the race somewhere between 2:15 and 2:30. I run in chiropractic school to clear my mind from all the facts I have to memorize, to forget about my crazy schedule, and to enjoy moving my legs. I love the feeling of accomplishment after a tough speed workout or a long distance day. I love that my individual workouts are longer than they have been in years. It's been years of running, but I've definitely improved. I love it more -- and I don't even consider the word "hate" when I think of running. I wonder where I'll be with running in another 10 years.



Blogger David said...

I love to read convert stories. You have certainly grasped the thrill of running. Keep it up. Keep competing with yourself and you'll never be bored with it.

26 October, 2006 20:12  

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