Glory Days… Cross Country… Far From Over.

I miss the days when all I cared about were my mile time splits on race day… or whether I could really get away with wearing my favorite running shorts for another day of practice without someone begging me to finally put ’em through the wash.

I miss the days when the one thing that truly made me cringe was the skinny smiling stick of a girl in front of me that I wanted to, and mostly likely did “accidently” spike.

I never understood why my teammates often chose to run the five mile route instead of the seven; why some dreaded practice, while others joined just for the exercise.

Yes, this was high school. But to me, it was my world. One that no one could understand, break through or even touch because well… I just wouldn’t let that happen. IT WAS ALL MINE, and mine for the taking.

OK, Cross Country is a team sport. And I loved it for everything it was, including the fact that I was never alone, nor felt alone, even while running ahead or behind the pack. I loved being able to share the sound of the swaying leaves and the loud laugher over the funny stories at late night pasta parties… true blessings.

Oh, and I was a cheerer. Always a cheerer. For everyone and anyone that had my same team colors and school name, I cheered them on and they knew it was me who was screaming their name. I was loud and proud. Smiley and free.

I was obsessed.

Obsessed with the way that I could become obssessed with something like running.

At the time (of course), I didn’t think this was the case… EVERYONE else was CRAZY for not puting in their two- a- day runs.

Many people asked me how I could just run. I think they meant run after something that wasn’t a ball or a frisbee.

It was the finish line I was after, one that sometimes was gracefully covered with chucks of a previous finisher’s lunch.

I don’t know what was so cool about the puke green race shirts or the ridiculous paper numbers that I still, to this moment, cherish…and will never trash.

What I do know is that I loved and love running with a passion.

Our passions keep us alive and make us feel that we are really living.

This one passion of mine is one that pushed me to make the Varsity Cross Country team after being the slowest runner on JV the previous season.

Running was my niche, my escape into the unknown; where my mind never once doubted my body, or any of my capabilities rather. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was a young women with two strong and powerful striding legs pushing forward in (what always seemed at the time) the RIGHT direction.

My relationship with running was also a love/ hate one at many times, as it quietly shielded me from a lot of things: partying, late night movies… and of course, Boys.

I never understood the whole boy loves girl thing until I reached college, which was probably best for me… right? Yes. Maybe.

I’m glad I had my FIRST set of glory days when I did; in my cross country running days. When I would leave drama in the dust before it could even start. The days I lived through my sister’s mistakes and beautiful flirty charm in the background of it all.

Yes, this is still ME today… only sometimes you will catch a cute doggie by my side and a little more grown wisdom about the world and its wonders in my mind.

I am also still that young women with the curious and puzzled look on her face, often impatiently awaiting to discover more about this crazy world and why we often unconsciously and UNEXPLAINABLY  love the people, places and things that we do.

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