The gun went off, and so did we. The race was in Redding, and all I remember is dry, rolling hills. The course wasn't too bad, I was just nervous, as I stated before, not knowing who to look for. There was one girl ahead of me, and about half way through we went down a hill (my strength- most runners put on the brakes to do downhill. I relax my hip flexers and just keep an eye out for a safe place to plant my feet. Works everytime!). I passed her, and suddenly the realization that I was in first place hit me. Never before had I finished first in a race! I had finished second a couple of times, but this was new to me. I looked behind me and there was no one coming after me. The closer I got to the finish, the more people there were cheering me on. Teammates from the boys' team was there near the finish line, too.
My mom made it to every single home and away race that year. She was there at this particular race as well...
As I was approaching the finish line, I looked behind me one last time to see if I had to "gut it out" or not. Nope. No one was close. My mom, however, was! She ran the last stretch with me, yelling and clapping and so excited!
When I received my plaque, some of the boys took one look at it and said that one of the girls was me, and the other was my mom! That is one of my favorite plaques for that reason!
|Left: My mom; Right: Me|
High school was a bit different. That is when running became a "have to" and not a "get to". It was really self-inflicted, but I definately had a love/hate relationship with it. I was able to qualify all three years for Cross Country State Championships, but never did anything really great with it. Track was fun and different. I was able to do the 2 mile, 1 mile, 880 and mile relay almost every meet. My best time in the mile was 5:35 my senior year, and I made it to the Top 10 Mile times of my high school.
One of my favorite memories of High School running was the McKinleyville Invitational we would go to every year. The entire race was held on the beach: You run a mile and half straight down the beach, turn around, and run a mile and half straight back. It was so fun! One year I ran barefoot (blisters on the bottom of the feet), another in "spikes" (blisters on the back of the foot due to sand), and the final year I ran in regular running shoes (the best and most comfortable).
My sophomore year I had my friend Cari (who was a senior) around, and we would pray together before each race. It was a great reminder of keeping the "Main Thing" the Main Thing. I really appreciated her for that! I continued the tradition after she graduated, pulling aside anyone who wanted to pray before the race with me. It wasn't a "help me beat everyone" kind of prayer, but one of thanks that the Lord was allowing us the ability to run, and that we would honor Him with how we would run. Sometimes I would try to get a good praise song stuck in my head for the race; both for the beat and for the encouragement.
My 11th grade year was a little different. The summer before I was gone for almost the entire summer overseas and did not get much of a chance to run to train. Coming to the first meet of the season, I experimented with drinking a "Jolt" cola (a super caffenated, carbonated soda) to see if it would give me an extra boost that I needed from the lack of training. Soda is a poor beverage choice, especially when it is 90+ degrees. Both the caffeine and the carbonation are dehydrating. I finished in second place, but during the race I overheated and collapsed at the finish line. I couldn't see straight, vomitted a couple of times, and couldn't remember my name. One of the coach's helped to try to cool my blood flow down, got me to drink some water, and asked me simple questions. After awhile I felt better, but to this day I am sensitive to heat.
I still remember most of the competition from the other schools: Trixie, Daisy, Stephanie, Amy, Irene. Together we learned that just because they are competition, there is no need for poor sportsmanship. I could be friends with any one of those girls. When I was in college my mom called to tell me that Trixie had been in a fatal car accident. It was one of the first people I had known who died.
My 11th grade year my brother Jason went to Fresno Pacific College, where I knew since 7th grade that I wanted to go to college. I went to visit him, and since he was on the Cross Country/Track team (if you were on the XC team, you were automatically on the Track team, too!) I got to talk to the coach. There wasn't a women's program yet, but he was working on one for the next year. My senior year the coach would call occassionally, and was there at the State meet (held in Fresno every year) when I ran. He offered me a scholarship, and I was ready to go! I couldn't wait!
College deserves a post in itself, so, to be continued....