Racing cross country for eight years has given me so much, taught me so much. Ultimately, the sport introduced me to the woods, which has changed my life. The history, landscapes, and meandering trails of the state of Florida will be always play an important part in my life. It has influenced my art and career choices. Cross country taught me to appreciate small victories and not let the bad moments get me down. Some days I am so happy to be moving and running. I remember just a few months ago when each step was a milestone. The sport has also introduced me to the greatest people that I know. It showed me how much I enjoy the act of running, moving through space at my own will, challenging myself, and discovering the fragility of limitations. This year, I have experienced the challenges of racing. I have also experienced the fun in racing for the first time.
I love to run fast. I love to run far. I love the days when I can feel every ache in my legs and the days when the motions are effortless. I love to train and log the miles, but in previous years, I did not look forward to racing. This season, I have had some of the worst races of my life. Part of the process was overcoming the mental aspect of being injured for an extended period of time. I also had to get back into shape- running fast shape. Then, I also had to learn how to race and transfer all of the daily work to the race course. That was the most difficult part for me. It sounds simple, but I had never really been coached on racing. It took some time and persistent coaching, but in the end, I discovered how I need to race in order to be successful.
In the last meet of the season, I finally was successful. It was a beautiful, cool morning. The course was perfect for my hip (fast compact gravel and dirt- not Florida sand), and the trails wandered through a wooded park and past a lake. The morning was beautiful and I was determined to have no regrets. When I crossed the line, I had run my first true cross country PR in four years in the 6k. In the race, I ran the fastest cross country 5k that I have run since high school. I felt like a runner. I felt like I was racing. I felt like myself.