The yellow rays of death pour down on you as water rapidly drips into your eyes stinging them. You feel the agonizing sharp pain in your shins as if a knife were lodged into place there constantly jabbing. All of this pain is endured just to run.
Yes, each and every day cross country runners like myself go through all of this just to run a race. Why do we do this? That’s an awesome question which only took six years for me to figure out.
It all started in seventh grade, in which I was determined to run cross country simply due to the fact that my brother had, and my goal was to follow in his footsteps, literally.
I started off running very slow at 20 minutes for two miles and soon discovered that I was injured not even three weeks into the season.
Yes during my first meet I had gotten shin splints. I remember not being physically capable of moving without the pain of a thousand sharp pointy needles stabbing me in the leg.
I remember having to take five minutes just to walk upstairs because it hurt so bad. I was on the verge of giving up and quitting, which is something I quite often did.
Eventually, the high school coach, Coach Adam Walters, came up to me at our meet in Tiffin, demanded that I take a week off and see the high school trainer.
One week of icing later, I knocked approximately 2:38 off my previous time on the two mile, and it felt absolutely amazing.
I was so inspired from my massive improvement from seventh grade that I decided to run again in eighth grade and told myself that this would be my year.
But of course my past came knocking at my door at the beginning of the season, and my shin splints were back, again.
I refused to give up and forced myself to get through the daily pain.
Each day was a battle in my war against my injury, to complete the goal I longed for, to beat my brother’s old time and break 14 minutes.
I was able to break my brother’s old time but never got under 14 minutes, the closest I came was 14 minutes exactly.
However, in the process of this nonstop battle, I achieved the implausible. I managed to qualify not only for varsity but to run as varsity at the state meet during the 8th grade year.
This was when I finally learned that I wasn’t running just to one-up my brother, even though I always do, I was running because I savored the success that the pain gave me.
My pain inspired me to keep running, to keep fighting for my teammates as well as myself. I refused to give in and give up.
Because of this hideous yet beautiful and life-changing pain, I would not be running 10 minutes faster, I never would have varsity lettered and most importantly, I never would have made dozens of new friends,
So if something ever hurts, don’t quit, whether it’s a sport or not. Give it a shot and your life may be forever changed.