July is coming to an end and most high schools have started to have cross country practice, at least my former high school has so I think this post is appropriate. I ran track in middle school but at the time our middle school did not have cross country. I planned to run cross country when I got to high school but as the school year came to an end and the summer began to pass by I became very nervous. I had never run a 5k race and I had never been in high school. I was also worried that I wouldn’t be able to make the team, which was irrational because cross country didn’t have cuts.
All summer long I followed the training plan the coach had given me at the end of the school year. It wasn’t an insane amount of mileage. In fact I didn’t even know what mileage was back then. I didn’t know what pace was. I wore scrunchies and cotten shorts and sneakers that desperately needed to be replaced. I don’t recall any runs being more than a half hour before summer practices actually started but I did exactly what the schedule said and some.
On the car ride to the first practice I remember feeling scared and nervous. At the time only 2 other girls from my grade were doing cross country and I don’t think they were there that day. My mom parked the car near the steps in front of the practice football field and that is when I met Brittany. Brittany was a senior, one of the team captains, our top runner, and someone who actually knew a lot about cross country unlike myself. I distinctly remember her assuring me and my mother that the cross country team didn’t make cuts and that I wouldn’t get cut from the team. (If you haven’t made the connection from previous posts yet, all these years later Brittany and I reconnected and train together). Other girls began showing up and we all introduced ourselves.
Our coach told us to run the course that day if we were able to go that far, so I ran the whole course. I didn’t understand the concept of running back then and I thought each and every run needed to be as fast as I could run. Once I had figured out that the top 7 girls were varsity (it only took a few minutes of listening to my teammates talking) I put that in my mind and I said to myself, ” I want to be varsity.”
I was the second girl to finish the course that day. I remember running up the hills during the first mile of the course and glancing over my shoulder to see if anyone was coming and then sprinting down the hills as fast as I could. By the time I got to the final mile I was surprised that I had ran so well. I can’t imagine the time was faster than 25 or 26 minutes but I had no clue what that even meant. I was young and niaeve.
From then on I wasn’t nervous and I believed I wouldn’t get cut from the team. I made varsity and dropped my time down to 21 minutes by the end of the season. I placed well in my conference because back then high school girls weren’t as fast as they are now.
Some people thought I had natural talent when I was younger but I always thought I continued to improve because I worked hard everyday. I’m not really sure. I’ve had my ups and downs with running over the years but I always seem to bounce back. I’ll never be a professional runner but I guess I do have a certain amount of ability that keeps me competing at a certain level.
**I would like to point out that I was a freshman in high school in 2001, that was 14 cross country season ago.**