How can I start by saying anything other than thank you? Thank you for the races, the morning long runs, and the late night track workouts. Thank you for the cross country memories, the feeling of adrenaline pumping through my veins at the start line. Thank you for everything you've taught me, and most importantly, the amazing community you've brought me. Through everything, the good times and the bad, I've come to know that I truly love you, and I always will.
Sure, you're not always easy. I've found that it's tempting to get too caught up in rankings, times, MileSplit's and PRs, too easy to compare myself to others and get down thinking I won't ever be good enough. You've driven me to tears after bad races and frustrated me after tough workouts. There have been times when I've wanted to give up on you and when I've felt you're no longer worth it because I think I'm a failure and never going to be as good as I want. I've occasionally lost focus on why you're such an important part of my life. But I always come back to you because I remember the joy you bring me. I always remember why I started running in the first place. Because I love it.
I eventually learned failure isn't losing - it's not giving my best. That's one of the many lessons you've taught me. It's ok to not be the fastest girl on the track, as long as I still leave it all out there and do my best. Once I learned that, I learned to love you even more. I learned that when I just let go, when I run for the pure joy of it, run as hard as I can without fear just to see what I can do and let the outcome take care of itself, I can go further than I believe. I love you because you've pushed me to new limits, to take chances, to see how far I can go. You've brought me so much and helped me get better every day, as a runner and a human. I love that you're not easy. I am grateful for the work I've put in for you, and you've given me so much in return.
When I run, I belong to something bigger than myself, a part of a community and an incredible team. I owe my love for you in part to my coaches, who have helped to teach me running's lessons and who always make me laugh while inspiring me to be not only a better runner, but a better person. Thank you for motivating me to new heights and helping me do more than I thought possible.
Thank you running, for bringing me my teammates, my best friends. I love them all so much, and there's nothing better than the feeling of collapsing over the finish line of a cross-country race knowing I've given it all for them, for us as a team. I will always hold my memories of this team very near and dear to my heart. They have helped me to come out of my shell, to push myself to the limit and to never look back. I am grateful to them for the inspiration before meets, the sweaty hugs after races, and the laughs on long runs. They've encouraged me to do my best and believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself, and I love them all for that. Seeing my teammates running a relay, pushing themselves as hard as they can go for me, for us - there is nothing more inspiring for when it's my turn to carry the baton. I know I could never let them down. They've all helped me to grow, and I wouldn't be the person I am today without them.
We are a strong team, a wolf pack, and we are strong because we care about each other. We have that special bond, that love formed only by crazy stories on the bus after meets, convincing each other to do one more mile in an already very long run, pre-race energy chews and motivational speeches, pasta parties and shared suffering in hard workouts. This is something unique that only running can provide. Thank you running, for giving me these incredible people I know will always be there for me.
It really hurts to see this track season - the memories I was hoping to make, the PRs I was hoping to get, everything I was looking forward to - just slipping away. I am crushed to see it all disappear.
But we can still run. We can still feel the love and community you bring us, and remember everything you've taught us. We are lucky to be runners, lucky to be able to do our sport. Running continues to connect us, even though we are apart. You mean something different and special to each of us, but you teach everyone patience, dedication, hard work, and strength, all of which are needed during these uncertain times. I will hold on to the love I have for you and be grateful you are still here for me. I will remember how important you are to me, now more than ever.
Eventually competition will return, and things will go back to normal. But until then, we can keep putting one foot in front of the other and just keep moving forward. We will get through this if we do what we always do - run.
So thank you running, for always bringing out the best in me, and teaching me to appreciate you for everything you have to offer. You've taught me lessons I couldn't have learned any other way. Though I know my running journey is very far from over, I've already learned so much about myself, the sport, and the amazing people you've brought me. I know you'll be there for me through it all, and I love you for that. And that love can get me through anything.
Thank you running, for everything.
Cedar Ridge '22