Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Flashback: Why I Started Running

Considering this is supposedly a running blog, I should probably post about running once in a while. Lately, it seems like all my posts have been about P90X or yoga or cycling. So I decided I'm going to go with something a little different today and recount the story of how I got started running.

I started running in ninth grade. Cross-country was offered in junior high, but I was too busy playing basketball. That, and as every high school basketball player knows, running is what your coach makes you do when you do something bad. However, in ninth grade, the high school basketball coach highly suggested we all run cross-country to get in shape. Keep in mind I was the kind of kid who spent hours and hours alone in her basement doing ball-handling drills. I was no stranger to doing whatever it took. (Some things never change?) So, along with several other freshmen basketball players, I joined the cross-country team.

Like an idiot, I didn't run over the summer at all since I was too busy practicing basketball, so when the first practice came around, I found myself in a lot of trouble. In one of the early practices (Day 1? Day 2?), my coach (from here on referred to as TK) had us do a 5K time trial. I had no idea how to run 3.1 miles. I just figured that it was really far, so I alternated running, jogging, and walking to the finish. It took me 27:something, and I finished somewhere in the middle of the freshmen basketball players. The next day, TK put me in the B group, led by the senior basketball captain (from here on referred to as Cap'n, since I don't actually have a problem with her anymore even though this story makes it look like I do, so I'll keep it as anonymous as possible). For some reason unknown to me, Cap'n didn't like me. Anyway, the B group started out our run by...walking. So I asked Cap'n if we should be running (huh, maybe that's why she didn't like me, actually), and she freaked out at me and threatened to tackle me in the mud. Considering I had already seen her dump Powerade on her best friend's head, I had no reason to believe she was bluffing, so I ran away from her as fast as I could and tried to catch the A group. I knew one of the top girls from before, so I figured I'd run with her (nevermind the fact that Kira was 20 minute 5K runner and apparently I was 27 minute 5K runner). Somehow I managed to stick. TK continued putting me in the B group for the next week, and I continued slipping away to run with Kira and the A group. By the time the first meet came around, I had decided that I was going to prove to TK that I actually belonged in the A group.

Junior year of college, I went from a 19:05 to an 18:30 in one race (well, actually an 18:58 to an 18:30 if you count a 5K split from a 6K XC race). That was a huge PR for me...but it actually wasn't the largest amount of time I've cut off my 5K from one race to the next. That honor would go to the 23:XX I ran at that first meet. That was good enough for a top 7 finish, so it got me into the A group. More importantly, it got me stoked on running. Beating Cap'n seemed to give her even more reason to hate me, since I found myself thrown in the creek at the next practice (in my defense, she caught me off-guard when I was trying to cross the creek), but at least now I knew I could outrun her if she chased me (which she often did). But really, I didn't need getting away from Cap'n as a reason for motivation to run fast anymore, because now I had real motivation.

I quit basketball that winter. It was time to move on and place my focus elsewhere. (Not that we had indoor track. Or outdoor track. Or that I knew that I should be running year round yet. But my heart was still elsewhere, so bear with me here.)

Oh, and Cap'n...thanks. You were my first motivation to make me want to run fast.

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