Once upon a time, I was an awkward eighth grader (weren’t we all?!), terrified of making friends at my new high school that coming fall. As the most uncoordinated, unathletic, and, dare I say, even laziest kid on the block, I scoffed at my older brother’s suggestion to try out for the school’s championship-winning cross country team. Still, I found his reassuring, “They don’t cut many people,” line enticing.

That little mile and a half time trial the first day of high school cross country try outs (and guess what? They didn’t even make cuts!) introduced me to the value of hard work and opened doors to a high school team state championship title, a walk-on spot on my college cross country team, and an amazing new world of friends, a cleverly disguised justification for my obsession with carbs, and an ever growing pile of retired running shoes. The sport has encouraged me to try and even accomplish things I never thought my body was capable of, gently and relentlessly reminding me that I am the physically and mentally strong girl I wish I could see myself as.

Post-college, running and I have been in an on again/off again relationship, but lately, we’ve happily enjoyed logging miles on some steady (progressively faster!) ground.