I miss running. That might sound bizarre to people who don’t run (or even some people who do), but it was definitely a meaningful part of my life. I ran cross country and track for eight years of my life: morning practices, running camps, meets, and tournaments. Long runs, workouts, recovery runs, weight circuits, pre-race talks and dinners, and stretching routines. Hilly courses (specifically, Northview Church and LaVern Gibson). Medals, ribbons, spikes, tracks, coach Jeeps, vomit, grass stains, and field turf. Eight years of work and reward.
I committed to DePauw largely because of the coach and team members, who made me feel welcomed into their family. I have not been able to run for several months due to a sacral stress fracture (my second one). Rather than feeling defeated by my inability to participate, I have taken the role of “Number One Fan”. I get to know the first years and cheer harder than ever for the teammates I once trained, sweated, and celebrated with.
I don’t regret my decision not to run, which was not entirely my choice to make, but there are certain things that make me feel especially nostalgic. This is my ode to cross country and track.
- Summer (specifically, the smell of green grass)
In high school, early June meant the beginning of summer practices. Monday through Friday, we started warm-up at 7:30 am. Yes, that’s early, but it also gave us cooler temperatures. Practice was hard, but we did it together. And I felt accomplished whenever I finished a hard workout. We had several specific routes throughout central Carmel, and I will always think of those days with fondness. Even if I was not fond of the pain.
- My favorite courses
In third place, I will put Northview Church (Carmel, IN). Twenty minutes from my house, this course provided the majority of our hill training. Hard. Ass. Runs. But also PRs. Middle and high school meets. Accomplishment and personal history.
Second place goes to the course where I got my career PR: White River Elementary (Noblesville, IN). This meet was the only time where I ran a 5K in under twenty minutes. This was during my sectional meet, AKA my only tournament meet and the last one I ran my senior year. As well as the meet I ran on a stress reaction in my foot. While I felt pretty sluggish in the middle, I credit my teammate (much love to Halle Welch <3) for sticking with me and encouraging me to push myself.
First place goes to the one and only LaVern Gibson (Terre Haute, IN), AKA Cross Country Town, USA. This course is nationally respected as a great course, used for the Indiana state meet and NCAA championship meets. While there are longer routes, I have only run the 5K there myself. The first mile is virtually flat, but the next two are largely uphill. If you go out too hard on the first mile, expect nothing but pain for the rest of the race. If you run smart, you can make impressive gains throughout the race. I have PR’d on this challenging course, and those races have likely been the most meaningful of my running career.
Here, I will list some songs I associate with cross country and the people I associate them with. No explanations, just vibes.
“Dangerous Woman”- CHS Cross Country/Track & Field (XCTF), Sydney Haines <3
Basically all country music, including “Footloose,” CHS XC Class of 2020
“Wait So Long”- DePauw XCTF
“Woman”- DePauw Women’s XCTF (specifically Reagan Hoggatt)
“Won’t Stop Running”- A Great Big World
My teammates have been some of my best friends. Those who grind together tend to stay together. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been part of some crappy team dynamics, but I have been fortunate enough to meet some wonderful people along the way. To all my XCTF friends, thank you. <3
In terms of my return to running, I will never say never. There is so much more than competitive school teams and status as a student-athlete. Regardless of what my future looks like, I will always appreciate my time with running and the strength it has given me as a person. Actually, I don’t think I’m finished yet. From the last song on the list, “I am way too young, and I won’t stop running.”