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June 22nd, 2009

During my first year of cross-country running in college, I learned the importance of having a friendly level of competition with teammates. There was this one woman on the team who was involved in a lot of the same activities as me in college so I decided to use her as motivation to work to do well in everything I did. She was the one who talked me into joining the team but all summer, when I was training, I competed with her in my head. If I planned on training for 40 minutes, I told myself she would be training for 45 minutes so I trained just a little longer. When I was tired, I told myself that she wouldn't be tired so I pressed on. Funny thing is, when the season started, her and I seemed to be equally prepared for the season and coach made us run together during practices. I felt a little akward because I had been secretly using her all pre-season to keep me motivated and didn't know how to tell her this without sounding like a creeper. I didn't have to tell her though, because it became obvious as we competed in more and more races. Her and I would pace together and then at the end, we would sprint to the finish to try and beat each other.

I will never forget one particular race where we were running a relatively flat 5k. We both felt good that day, knowing that it would be an easy course to run a personal best. We got 3/4 of the way through and a hill came out of nowhere, I swear. We were side by side as we approached the hill and I heard her mumble under breath "I can't do it." In an existential moment, I said "yes you can" and grabbed her hand and started to drag her up the hill. We made it up the hill together, holding hands, and at the crest we both had renewed energy to finish. We both took off and ended up sprinting to the finish. We both got our personal bests that day and are now good friends. We brought out the best in each other in cross country, in our academic programs and continue to do so 5 years later.


October 20th, 2008

It was one of my jr. high school races and we were about to get on the line and start the race. We decided to do a few practice starts and the grass was really wet and I tripped on the line that is painted on the grass! I felt so dumb because everybody was watching our team because we are a really good team and everybody tries to beat us and everybody watched me fall.

Itzel Meza

August 5th, 2006

Running, specifically cross country, is debatably the hardest sport that exists. Not only is it physically excruciating, but it is possibly the most mentally demading sport as well. The training is absolutely rigorous, and the races are painful..... but the best part is that accomplished feeling at the end of a race. Well done to runners everwhere... you're definately the best of the best!!!! Keep running and know that your sport is other sports' punishment :)

Katie R.

April 14th, 2004

I got started in running by wanting a "letter jacket" real bad. This was in the early 70s and for skinny short people there weren't many sports made for us. One day in study hall I noticed a skinny guy with a "letter jacket." He told me he lettered running the mile in track. I thought if this "stiff" can do it, it can't be that hard. After failing to keep up with him in several workouts, I decided to quit. Coach told me to stick with it. He said the other guy will probably win the state cross country championship that year, and you might place. He did win, and I finished third. This was the beginning of my 34 year career as a runner and coach. Unfortunately my friend didn't have the grades to get into college. He died of heart disease a few years back. I was lucky. I did get a track scholarship, and was an NCAA finalist in the 5000 run for three years. Almost every day I think of my friend and how much he meant to my life.

Darrell Burris

June 12th, 2003

If anyone thinks that they were unprepared for their first race, just read this story and you well probably feel better. The local annual fair here in Williamstown, Ontario has a 5 & 10k run, never having run 1k but considering myself to be in great shape, I said what the heck it's not like a marathon or anything. The day before the race I thought maybe I better run 5k just to warmup my leg muscles. Having no running shoes I used my everyday walking shoes(!), thinking it wouldn't make that big a difference. I did 4.5k in 23 min and thought I would have a heart attack. Race day came and I could barely walk. My neighbour gave me some old running shoes, I ran the 5k in 22min and nearly puked at the finish line, but I came in 19th. And I got a medal for being 2nd in my age group. And from that point I was hooked.


December 26th, 2002

How you know when running is taking over your life?

I was sitting in my office one day, when the personnel director stuck his head in the door and asked "are you in the 401k"?. Without missing a beat, my crack engineering mind calculated the distance, and I replied, "Are you kidding? That's over 200 miles"!, then the light bulb went on (all 3 watts):( The personnel director gave me a blank look, and I almost died laughing.

Garrett L. Derr Sr.

August 29th, 2002

When I got to the line of my first race, the man who was going to fire the gun gave a little speech first. He said one thing I will never forget: "Welcome to the hardest sport in high school." It made me feel better knowing I trained hard, and that all the training was for a good reason. Now that I'm a senior, and the team captain, I often tell that little story to the new runners on the team. It really makes them feel good about being out there everyday, even though it gets tough, as all of you know. So keep running.

Corey Sloan

August 29th, 2002

I have won only one road race in my life. Here is how it happened. Every year my extended family world drive to Florence, Oregon to the annual Rhododendron Run which included a 10K and 5K run. I always ran the 10K and usually ran about 36 minutes. I was 34 at the time. That morning, I could barely walk. A back injury a couple of years before had damaged a disc that pressed on a nerve and sometimes left me useless. This was one of those days. I decided to go anyway and cheer on other family members. When we arrived about 2 hours later, I was feeling pain but not the sharp, disabling kind, so I decided to "trot" thought the 5 K, which I had never run before. When the gun sounded, I felt pretty good so sped up a bit. About 2 minutes later, I realized I was running in first. My biggest fear was that I wouldn't know where to turn on the course. The course meandered through the old costal town and through trails along sand dunes and Rhododendron groves with an occasional peek at the ocean.

At the finish line I made a wrong turn and had to be escorted back to the ribbon. This cost some time but I did finish first in a time of 16:48. I felt great.

For years I was not particularly proud of the race because I knew all the best runners were in the 10K (the winner ran a 30:20), but as time passes I look back in satisfaction.

Oh yeah, one more thing, that was 1980. When we got back to Eugene, there was a white powder all over everything in the city. That was the day Mount Saint Helens erupted.

Joe Harris

August 29th, 2002

It was my senior year year in high school. I had joined the XC team for the first time that year. I started running the spring before and all through the summer. After steadily progressing from a 23:02 for a 5k on our home course to a 21:00 I realized one day that our last home meet was coming up and that I wanted to break 21 minutes. On the day of the race all I did was think about it and how the time had come to prove to myself that it had all been worth it. I knew I had to take my running to another level. I finally made a promise that if I didn't break my PR I wouldn't eat any turkey on thanksgiving day. I went out there that fall afternoon and tortured myself for 20 minutes and 43 seconds. I had done it, and in the process dicovered something about myself-- that i was capable of doing great things when I wanted it badly enough..... the turkey tasted especially delicious that year. Run Hard!

Rick Hoover

August 29th, 2002

I don't pay much attention to the course maps when I race. Never had to. I always have plenty of runners to follow. On the net I saw that a small 5K was scheduled at the University of Dayton - organized by some students to promote Hunger Awareness. Donate $5 or can goods and you're in. There were 30 to 40 runners and I believe all but three were students. Nice kids. I was at that time a new runner (M 50-54)trying to break 25 minutes.

The race was across campus and towards the end the course threaded between the dorms. With about a half mile to go I was well behind the eight or ten front runners and about 20 seconds ahead of everyone else. I lost sight of the leaders and when I came to an intersection I wasn't sure where to go. I guessed left and when I came around the building I could see the finish line across a wide parking lot. The finish line was a card table, a chalk line and a co-ed with a stop watch. As I got closer I realized I should have guessed right rather than left because I saw the lead runners approaching the finish from the other direction.

You always try to finish strong. I came across the finish line puffing hard at the same time as several students crossed the line going the other way. Somewhat confusing for the girl with the clock. I managed to finish in under 25 minutes and I consider that race my Personal Best for a 4.6 K.

Mike Ploetz

March 10th, 2001

March 1999. It was a dry cool day and I was ready to compete in the North of England senior men 10 mile champs, taking into account I was only 18 it was going to be good experience, I'd raced the previous year and knew the course was fast, I also knew the race was going to be hard this year, I doubted the fact that I could run quick enough to do well. Anyway, the race set off; I felt relaxed but knew I was moving at a fair pace. The first mile went past in 4:55, the 2nd in 10:01, 3rd in 15:10, and at this time I was in a small group, the race progressed and by 6 I felt I was breaking the group, then at 7 I became posessed and tried to pick it up for home. The last 3 mile felt like a lifetime but I hung on and finished in 4th place, in 52:40 which I was very satisfied with.

The moral of this race for me is -- although you feel you cant go on and be successful, once you are running your mind switches off and the heart carries you to the end.

Barry Stephenson

March 10th, 2001

Hi, I started to run after my knee injury. I started my freshman year and did the best I could but my knee kept bugging me. I have this coach that says, "Pain is like a welcome guest in the mind, it only stays if you wish it." I have never forgotten that quote and this year as a Junior my cross country team went to state. It has been five years since the last boys team went and this year we chaged. My coach also has another saying, "2ZLIMT" -- it is on his license plate exactly like that and he drills that into our heads. Without his encouragement and strength we would have never gone to state.


January 23rd, 2001

My high school cross country coach once told me, "You only get out what you put in." These have been words to live by. Running is a sport in which you set your own standards, pace, and results. If you want to run fast, train fast. If you want to win, think like a winner. But if something does go wrong, never forget how bad you feel that you didn't reach your goal. Tell yourself you never want to feel that way again and go after it the next time.


November 30th, 2000

I began running cross country my freshman year in high school and I was good but not great. I was my team's number 6 runner and enjoyed every minute of it. The summer between my freshman and sophomore year I ran every day without fail. It was hot, it was hard, and it was aggravating, but I stuck with it. When cross country season started up again my sophomore year, we had a new coach, who recognized that I had talent. Still, I never thought I could be a great runner. The first meet of the season, I finished first for my team and 2nd overall. It was my best finish ever. The rest is history. I ran so hard all season and ended up runner up conference champion with a PR of 19:44. Persistence pays off, so stick wiht it!


October 22nd, 2000

I never was a runner. In fact I always said I would never be a runner, but now I am and I love it. Most people wonder why. I think the biggest reason is all the friendships I've made on the course or before or after a race. Running is a sport where no matter if you're first to finish or last, the other runners and fans will always cheer you on. This isn't a story about success but a story of how great people can be. Even though you want to beat the people or that one person everyone still gets along. So out of this I have running to thank for some great friendships.

Mike Vice

October 2nd, 2000

I only started running cross country my senior year of High School, so I didn't expect to be good at it. I considered myself to be a sprinter/middle distance runner, focusing on the 400 and 800 meters in track. I loved my team but I never got a time below 22 min in a 3.1 mile race. So when the coach at the college I wanted to attend suggested that I run cross country I was shocked. I eventually decided to run xc in college, and found it to be a fun experience. But I also realized how lacking I was in tallent for the event. This was discouraging, so I just kept looking forward to track. I ended up 8th on the team for the year, which to my surprise, disappointed me. This year, I came into the season with a totally different attitude. I finally admitted to myself, I was a middle/long distance runner. This helped me focus on the task at hand, which was my time. The second race of the season, in Western Maryland, I was determinded to get a personal record. The gun went off without much warning, and I was unprepared. But I didn't let that phase me, I just got my head in the race. It was on a golf course so there were lots of people cheering and I know that helped, but I was dead on for that race. I came through with a time of 21:44 which was a PR for me. And then the best part of it all, was two weeks later, I ran a 21:19 at another meet in Maryland. I have finally found my perfect mental running state.


September 3rd, 2000

I am reminded of traveling with a local group of runners to races with Ed W, the xc coach at the local college. Before a race, everything was basically serious. After the races, there was always a great deal of cameraderie. No one cared if we won or lost. Ed always would say, "We may not be fast, but we're funny."

Steve Kearney

August 31st, 2000

It was my first cross country race, and I had just recovered from a broken leg. I wasn't too used to long distance runs, and I was the only female frosh-sophomore runner at the invatational. I was so nervous that I forgot to check my shoe laces. I was doing pretty well in the first mile at 6:45, but in the second mile things got nasty. My left shoe got caught on my right lace (which was tied improperly with the loop dangling freely). I fell straight on my face. I got back up to finish but fell down another couple times till I stopped to fix my lace. I ended up finishing the race bloody, but at least I got a medal. Although I lost a lot of time, I felt prety tough for finishing the race.


May 18th, 2000

I'm fifty-seven years old, and I just completed the Vancouver International Marathon in a time of 4:58:54 on my first attempt. Gosh, I really enjoy running with good people. Anyway, the day after the event I could hardly wait to wear my new tee shirt, the back of which states: Vancouver International Marathon, 2000, FINISHER. I figured if I walked on Main Street along Alma to Fourth Ave and then west on Fourth to my mother's residence, about two kilometers in all, in front of everyone, they would all see my fantastic accomplishment. I thought it rather strange though that some people I encountered along the way seemed to laugh at me. Anyway, when I finally arrived at dear mom's, I stood in front of her full length mirror and noticed that my zipper was wide open with a part of the tee shirt sticking out of it.

Edward L. Bowman

March 4th, 2000

This is a little story about the importance of eating before a race in hopes everyone else out there will learn an easier way than I. It was the region meet in my high school freshman season of cross country. During the two weeks leading up to the race, I could think of nothing else but winning first place. The morning of the race, I was anxiously pawing around for last-minute remedies that could make me run faster, and recalled the nauseous episodes I had encountered during previous races when I had eaten beforehand. I decided to replace a breakfast with some vitamins and a Sunny D. A full two hours passed before my race started, and I kept a good hold on 2nd place in the 5K race until I started feeling slightly lightheaded. Attributing the feeling to the heat, I trudged on. As I continued my run, I noticed the crowd become fuzzy and the sky looked like it was collapsing, and before I knew what hit me, I was the one collapsing, fainting cold at the feet of a large group of my high schools boy's cross country team a mere 200m from the finish line. After regaining consciousness, I looked up and saw all the other runners jog by, and my competitive mode clicked to overdrive and I got up and finished the race, only to faint once more after crossing the finish line and then having to be carted away in a stretcher to the hospital. To this very day my teammates won't let me live that one down, but I think it happened for the best, because now I eat a complete meal and drink plenty of fluids before every race.


February 10th, 2000

Here is one for all the people over 30 who think they're getting old, and that speed is gone with youth! I am in the U.S. Marine Corps, and until about 5 years ago, at 26 years old, I was a die-hard member of the 6-mile per year club (the guys who only run the 3 mile Physical Fitness Test twice a year). I started to get the late-20's gut... so I got involved in running, then racing, then marathons. I am 31 years old now, a 5 year/4 marathon runner. Back to the Physical Fitness Test (PFT). Last year, just after my 30th birthday, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., and had to run a PFT the next week. The maximum time (for points) on a PFT is 3 miles in 18 minutes. In 13 years of PFT's, I had never run faster than 18:40, and had always fallen back on the excuse that my body type is just not built for speed. Well, I ran into another runner who convinced me that breaking 18 minutes was only impossible because I believed it was. After the M.C. Marathon, I rested for a couple days, then did two days of speedwork. The next week, I ran that PFT in 17:10!! The funniest part is that I ran it with a good friend, who is the picture of a marathoner -- 6'5" and a beanpole. I matched him stride for stride and felt no pain... only the exhilaration of adrenaline and speed.

Jeff Dinsmore

January 4th, 2000

I just wanted to say that people who are able to run for more than 20 years will find a true paradise in running. Remember the people who helped you early and later on in your running career. Please, never give in to injury, or yourself, or any external factor that would ever hinder your ability in crossing that golden finish line that the running life has to offer. God bless all runners, go out and be the light for the world!

David Burns

October 18th, 1999

It was one of the last meets my freshman year in high school for cross country. I had never ran in my life before that year. I had started out in the beginning of the year as one of the worst runners, hardly being able to run 2 miles without walking. By the end of the year I was in the top 7 of my fresh/soph team. At this meet I had a horrible start, and knew I wouldn't do well, but I kept on pushing to catch up to the girls on my team. Before I knew it, I was the first person on my team, and 7th overall in the race. I was so excited when I saw my friends get so excited when they saw I was the 1st of the team. I finished 10th overall, and 1st out of my team. It was the best day of my life!


August 15th, 1999

My greatest racing story happened 2 years ago. My son, Nathan, had been racing all summer long, in 1 mile races in our area. He started when he was 6, and he was really getting into running. It was the Race for the Cure in Terre Haute, IN. We had gone there for the 1 mile race, but when we arrived he found out that it was a non-competitive run, so he wanted to run the 5k. I told him OK, and our goal would be to finish under 30 minutes. At this time, he had never run further than 2 miles. We started at the back of the pack and ran our 1st mile in approximately 9½ minutes. I kept asking him if he was OK and he would each time shake his head yes. He continued to run negative splits the whole way and he finished in under 25 minutes. Watching him cross the finish line was greater than any race that I have run faster, or placed higher in, my self. Nathan is now 9 and competes in 5 or 6 races a year. His farthest race completed is a 5 miler.


May 6th, 1999

Just a bit of a tale. When I was in the Army, I attended a military school at Ft. Mc Clellan, Alabama. Anytime you graduate from a military school, you have to pass a physical fitness test, and part of the then Army PT test, was a 2 mile run. I was in the habit of doing fourteen to sixteen mile a day runs, and had just about killed myself the night before on one (ask anybody about Baby Bains and Papa Bains, these mountains are killers). Stupid, I know. Anyway, I was beat the next day, but still wanted to set a good time on the run. I'd done real good on the first mile, but found myself fading on the second. I saw a buddy ahead who was an excellent runner, and figured if I catch up to him, I can run along with him and just pace myself. Great idea. I caught him, and started pacing alongside. Soon he started speeding up, so I sped up. we kept going back and forth like this, and crossed the finish line. Both of us Maxed our run according to Army PT standards. Afterwards, I found out he was fading himself, and knew I was an excellent runner. He'd slowed down so he could pace himself. Instead we wound up in a foot race. I guess it worked, we both finished, and we maxed the run.


March 17th, 1999

I'll throw a story out here to get things started: There's nothing quite like the gems one produces when the mental gears aren't quite clicking toward the end of a run. Well, during my Whitman days, a few of us attacked a rather hilly, rocky loop which was basically uphill the first half, then back down. I was warned by one of the guys to pace myself, as I hadn't been out there before. Let's just say I felt pretty good at the start and not so good after that. On the way back, he reminded me what he had said about pacing. Without giving it much thought, I replied, "I paced myself, my pace just changed!"

Dan Kaplan

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