Smells Like Track Season

Greetings from Minnesota. It’s an overcast and windy day, yet it still feels like spring.

These blustery days remind me so much of a faraway time when brisk winds seemed to blow for every early season track meet. I was always fairly uncoordinated and not great at contact sports growing up, but running was something I could do. Even if I wasn’t the fastest or the strongest, I knew I was capable of finishing the race.

I was still wary of going out for track in 7th grade, but my best friend was a good runner and convinced me to give it a try with her. After a season of running mediocre times as a sprinter, I realized I needed to try a different event. I just wasn’t fast enough to compete beyond junior high, plus there were so many sprinters. Especially starting out, many girls wanted to sprint. Probably because it seemed easier than learning a field event and less work than being a distance runner.

Looking back now, it’s pretty funny to think of the 1-mile and 2-mile as the looong distance races. I remember being awestruck when the distance coach would take his runners out for a 5 mile run during practice. 5 miles, I would think. “How could anybody possibly run that far??” ๐Ÿ™‚

As it was, I was pretty intimidated by the distance and jumping events, and I was too scrawny to really attempt throwing the shot or discus. So I picked the “easy” route and became a hurdler.

As the years went by, I promise my form improved beyond this! I don’t know the exact year this was taken, but I’m guessing I was in 8th grade. While I never did become a great hurdler, I did become fairly proficient in the 300 meter low hurdle race. The race pictured is 100 meter high hurdles, and I always seemed to hit at least one hurdle even though they were only several inches taller.

Throughout high school, I was good at academics, and I excelled at activities like speech, mock trial, and music. I never thought of myself as an athlete. (likely, nobody else did either…) Even though track meets tied my stomach in horrible knots and I sometimes dreaded practice, I liked the feeling of being part of the team. Going out for a sport put me well beyond my comfort zone, and I think I needed that.

Other activities, jobs, friends, and the general mayhem of high school eventually meant I didn’t go out for track during my last few years of school, but I will never forget what it felt like to run on the team.

While I didn’t win ANY race that I can think of, I will always remember one race in particular. It was, in essence, my breakthrough…


I was a 10th grader, and I had never earned a trip to the section meet. The top 4 places in each individual race at sub-sections got to go, and my best chance was in the 300 meter hurdles.

The sub-section meet was at our school’s track that year, so we had a fair amount of parents and fellow students watching and cheering. I was beyond nervous, but my hurdler team mates kept reminding me I had improved so much over the season.

The gun scared me to death as it always did, but I felt prepared. I knew the race would hurt because it’s a short, fast effort, but I felt ready for that too. When I crossed that line in 4th, well, I may as well have been winning a trip to the Olympics. ๐Ÿ˜€

You couldn’t wipe the smile from my face, and my coaches and teammates were congratulating me on all sides. I was thrilled to contribute some worthwhile team points that day too. I truly do not remember how I placed at sections a few weeks later, but I still remember winning that sub-section medal.

Perhaps because I never expected to win anything as an athlete. And perhaps chasing that rush of running, improving, and racing is why I still run….

Were you an athlete in high school? What was your favorite part of the experience?

15 days since our Wellington’s been gone.

About Lisa

Hi, I'm Lisa. Dairy farmer's wife and Minnesotan to the core, I write about rural farm life, running down country roads, and the food, faith, and family that bind everything together. Follow along on my journey.
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12 Responses to Smells Like Track Season

  1. i was an athlete in high school and the best part was probably hanging out with my friends hhahah!

  2. sweatykid says:

    What a fun story! I love hearing about how people were in high school. Hurdles always looked so hard to me.

    I definitely thought of myself as an athlete in high school. I was the first girl ever to be a varsity starter all four years on my lacrosse team. In fall, it was cross country all the way — those girls and boys were my best friends. Indoor track was sort of a placeholder to stay in shape for the other two sports — I never cared much for it, but I loved my teammates.

  3. lifeisbeachykeen says:

    Aw, I love this story; the picture is awesome! I was not an athlete in high school. I played softball from the time I was 8 until 10th grade in high school. I did play softball my freshman year and hated it. The coaches took all the fun out of it. It was so competitive that I really didn’t enjoy it anymore. My 10th grade year I got into the car accident and dislocated my shoulder just before try outs so I couldn’t play.. After that I just decided I didn’t want to play anyways. I started working when I was in 8th grade so I just worked instead of playing sports. Looking back I wish I would have done something..track maybe. I stink at basketball and volleyball, and soccer is to much running. Lol.

  4. Kelly says:

    It has been so much fun to read about your training days! A friend of mine was impressed with your hard work and training that she shared your blog. I was a runner in highschool and loved every aspect! I continue to run and have moved to triathlons. I just started a blog that I can document my life. ( My other blog is my sons journey which is my first blog.
    It has been fun to read about your MN runs! Everyone else that blogs lives far away. Fargo is a great race! I did the 1/2 and loved it! Keep up the hard work! It will be done before you know it!

  5. Heidi Nicole says:

    I attempted track and sucked at it…I couldn’t sprint worth crap (still can’t) and the mile was just too many loops around the track!

    I ran cross country my frosh and soph year of HS. I was alright, but not amazing. I gave up CC for an after school job. The best part was definitely hanging out with friends and the away meets!

    Even though I sucked at sports in school (I’m tall but I can’t dribble and run at the same time, I am the definition of “she throws like a girl”…you get the point) I am using a lot of my coaches words of wisdom now! I think of what the CC coaches said when I have a side stitch, am climbing an evil hill and pushing hard to the finish. I hope that even though I’m not breaking records or winning races I just might be making them a little bit proud!

  6. Bree says:

    I love this post! Brings back soooo many memories. I never even tried hurdles because my legs wouldn’t move like that ๐Ÿ™‚

    I was in Cross Country, then soccer when my school got it, and Track all 6 years that you could be in it. I remember thinking the same about 5 miles. I did mid-distance but the most I did was the mile which at the time still seemed sooo long.

    I totally know what you mean about spring bringing back track memories. The windy, sunny days, melting snow, and rain.

  7. jeri says:

    I LOVE the smell of track season. It’s seriously my favorite. I was totally a track geek back in the day. ๐Ÿ˜€ I did the 300 hurdles at a couple of meets. I started beating my BFF (who’d been a hurdler since 7th grade) and she was mad. So I stopped. Haha

  8. Pingback: Seven Things | Cow Spots and Tales

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