Us runners are an odd bunch... a group of misfits one might call us. We bond over the appreciation of pain, the indescribable feeling of finishing a race, or acknowledging one another as we cross paths on the trail.
I decided to join cross country the summer before my freshman year. I came into it not knowing anybody and having little experience in running. It was quite intimidating, but once I got into it I knew I had found my sport. My football and soccer playing friends will insist that their sport is so much more difficult than ours. However I laugh as I watch at there countless number of timeouts and substitutions because us runners are foreign to these ideas. So why do we run? why do we put ourselves through the pain, pushing ourselves past our breaking point when countless others would have quit far before??
It truly amazes me that such a simple sport can push you to achieve so much. My freshman year cross country season I was competing with a good friend of mine, Midori, for the 7th spot on our team (top 7 girls and guys move on to run our regional meet and if we quality, our state meet). The week prior to our regional meet I knew I was only going as an alternate and that there was only a slight chance I would be running that coming Saturday. I'm not going to lie I was a bit bummed but I was also extremely happy to cheer on my teammates and knowing that there's always a next season for me.
It's regionals day.
As the start time of the race approached, the chance of me actually running that day grew slim and things weren't looking up for me. As I was sitting down under the tent my teammate Amy came up to me, panting telling me I had to run in place of Midori, as she had just sprained her ankle on their warmup jog. At first I thought she was joking but the reality set in that I was really going to do this. Panic set in but my teammates and friends and helped me get ready and all my worries vanished as the gun went off. That day I got personal best, and our women's cross country team had come in 3rd place and qualified for the state meet for the first time in our schools history. What I felt in that moment, standing next to my teammates was a feeling so unexplainable... it was hands down one of the greatest feelings I've had while participating in this sport.
This is why I love cross country. It is indeed a team sport yet, your individual progress depends on how much you're willing to put into it, and it is so unbelievably rewarding.
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