If you were reading along 2 years ago you might remember this post, but I thought it was time to share it again. We’re starting to see bare dirt and mud amongst the melting snow piles, and I’m catching a hint of spring in the air that always brings me right back to my days of racing on our high school track. Maybe it will bring back some memories for you, too!
From the archives of April, 2011…
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??” 🙂
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. 😀
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?