“I think the people who don’t expect to like something so much are the ones that love it the most. All I ever wanted was to improve, not to impress. I run for something bigger than myself.”Rebekah Banister
I never expected to fall for you this hard. You were something that I wasn’t physically or mentally prepared for, though we were meant to be all along.
I realized that I had a talent for this sport when I chased after my younger sister on her bicycle one cloudy afternoon at the park. The feeling of speed was something I wasn’t used to, and I craved more of it.
By the time I had discovered long distance running, I was about to enter my sophomore year of high school at a new school. In early August, I reached out to the school’s cross country coach about possibly joining the team. Although I had missed tryouts, she allowed me to come to their first practice so I could see what it was all about. At that first practice, I met the people who would soon become some of my best friends as well as my teammates.
I had a choice to make. How would I, a classically trained ballet dancer, convert to long distance running? I didn’t consider myself good enough.
The next week, I quit dancing. I had made up my mind. At the time, I was sick of it, and longed for a physical activity that didn’t make my toes bleed after long hours of dancing en pointe. In my head, I figured this was the easy way out. I officially joined the varsity girls team.
Throughout the season, our team placed well in many races, a few won medals, and we even had the chance to participate in the GAPPS varsity state meet. After placing third as a team in our varsity regionals race, the top seven runners from both of our varsity teams were picked to go to state, and I was one of them.
State was a unique experience for sure. Our varsity girls team placed fourth overall that day, which we were immensely proud of. We set a goal and achieved it. That is a day I will certainly never forget.
Runners are a unique breed. We thrive on burning lungs, lactic acid buildup, and pasta. We long for the feeling of accomplishment and the sound of cheering as we cross the finish line. Whether you’ve just placed first or last, we all want to feel like we’ve done a good job. It takes an incredible amount of bravery, strength, and teamwork to line up for a race with no idea how the outcome will look. You may have trained for and envisioned the race, but anything can still happen.
I think the people who don’t expect to like something so much are the ones that love it the most. All I ever wanted was to improve, not to impress. I run for something bigger than myself.
I now realize that running XC was not the easy way out, but instead one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced. When I discovered running, I was trying to figure out how to not let one thing define me. Ballet had consumed me to the point where I ate, slept, and breathed it. While this was not entirely a bad thing, it was becoming unhealthy.
While I do not plan to run XC this fall, I will continue to run local races as well study dance. This sport helped me see that all I needed was a break from ballet, and not to just leave it all behind.
Running has given me long-lasting friendships, an incredible coach, and an unexpected love for the feeling of speed. For these things and more, I am forever grateful for this sport.
I’ve been wanting to write this article since I started running, but hadn’t been able to find the right words until now. My love for this sport is so pure and I truly adore everything that it is.
I began writing this essay with the intention of submitting it to a popular running website, but as you can see, it didn’t work out. I decided that I would post here instead for my readers. How blessed I am to have an audience that is ready and willing to listen to my thoughts and ideas.
I hope that reading my story of the trials, pain, and beauty of running will inspire you to go out and try something new. Who knows, maybe you’ll go for a run today. 😉
Stay safe out there, gang. 💓🌷🦋