Tag Archives: cross-country

Set a goal. Cross it off. Set another.

When I was 15, I quit my first love—gymnastics. It was a decision that taught me so much about myself. I loved it, still do, but it was tearing me up mentally and giving myself the permission to quit meant giving myself permission to experience whatever life had in store and not put a big red FAILURE stamp on that chapter in my life.

I went on to run cross country and track. Something I didn’t know how to do. Something I had always hated. I was the 15-minute mile shrimp in elementary school. The girl who would’ve gotten the Presidential Fitness Award, or at least the National Fitness Award, if she didn’t get a big X in the mile every year. I could stretch and push up and sit up and pull up and all the things but running? No, not running.

And honestly, running felt like salt in the wound because I couldn’t play any other sports. I wasn’t any good at anything else. I had no hand eye coordination. I think it took me a month or two to see running as something to be admired. Something to push towards.

My dad spent hours with me at the local YMCA, in the months before school let out for the summer, training my breathing patterns and posture and arm movements, pushing me to round one lap of the indoor track without stopping to heave. He would stand at the corner of the track, pressed against the wall with a running watch, timing me, quietly propelling me to just keep going, one more step, that’s it.

Then we transitioned to running outside. My neighborhood had rolling hills and I remember thinking, “This is hard. This is nothing like the indoor track. You expect me to run 3 miles by August?” It was May and everything hurt. My calves. My quads. My lungs. I was a muscular 110 pounds and yet, I felt so heavy. Sluggish.

I started doing summer runs with the coach and some other girls and I remember the first time I ran 3 miles. It was mid-July, mid-morning, and I was coming around the corner down Walnut Street in Royersford, thumping down the uneven concrete sidewalk, trying to admire the houses I passed by. I had just stopped to walk a block when my coach came doubling back for me and pushed me to keep going, almost there. When I got to Lewis Road, the 7-11 on my left, I felt home free.

Running was never the plan. But those 3 last years of high school brought me so much joy, and so much appreciation for the limits of the human body. Set a goal. Cross it off. Set another.

A few people in my life are struggling with where to go next. They’re at crossroads, hoping they can just continue forward but realizing they can’t. And I want them to know that there is beauty in forcing yourself to set aside what you planned and follow the best path you see now, to push yourself into something you didn’t know you could love.

Lately, running has given me anxiety. Am I going to fast? What’s my heartbeat? Am I going to be okay? Can my body handle this?

When I was just 15, had never run more than a few hundred feet at a time, that was the last thing on my mind. I was just frustrated and tired and hot and out of breath. Our bodies are powerful. But so are our minds. They see us through. They know what we sometimes cannot know until we given in and trust. Let’s not forget that.

Maybe it's a collection of small moments. And an active decision to save certain ones.

letter 29 – someone you want to tell everything to, but too afraid

via weheartit.com

Dear Mike,

Sometimes, I wonder what I ever saw in MySpace. It’s such a mess of a site.

Sometimes, I wonder what I ever saw in cross-country. It’s such a lonely sport. But then I wonder what would’ve happened if I never joined MySpace or ran cross-country. If our paths had never crossed.

I wrote ten different letters in my head before I settled on this one, but maybe that’s what this whole thing’s about. I knew that when I started this challenge, you deserved a letter. I just didn’t know what it would say.

This is a thank you for never judging me when you found out where I’d been. Who I’d been. For seeing me the same way you’ve seen me for the last five years. For reminding me why I like being friends with guys. For being in my life for these last six years, however sparse at times.

That’s my fault—not yours.

Thank you for arguing with me about who had a better boy’s varsity team well past midnight all those years ago on AIM when I should’ve been doing homework. Thank you for keeping me up until two a.m. and always telling me to have sweet dreams when I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.

You’re one of only a handful of consistencies in my life. And I don’t think I ever tell you that, but you deserve to know. You deserve the truth.

For some reason, whenever I listen to Hands Down by Dashboard Confessional, I think of you. And sometimes, I want to call you and tell you how many songs I imported into iTunes (just so you know, it’s 5526 songs).

Sometimes, I feel like I’m back in your red Jeep on the way to the King of Prussia mall and you’re making fun of me for playing 3 Doors Down because it’s the first artist I recognize when I scroll through your iPod.

It’s funny, knowing someone for five years and only having a handful of tangible, face-to-face memories. But each one is stuck in my memory. You’d be surprised by the details I remember. I’m surprised by the details I remember.

But maybe that’s life. Maybe it’s a collection of small moments and an active decision to save certain ones.

I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you for giving me memories worth remembering. Thank you for being the kind of friend that sticks around for five years, stringing together conversations from 300 miles away. Thank you for knowing me better than I probably know myself and for always driving me crazy with your incessant debating and god awful nine-minute instrumental metal songs.

That’s what’s real. Driving someone crazy until you’re stuck in her life.

Love,
K