"A lot of people run a race to see who is the fastest. I run to see who has the most guts..."
I was born running. It was a natural occurrence for a farm kid, the runt of the litter with domineering older brothers. If I wanted to keep up, I was running. If I wanted to get away, I was running.
After years of sweating through multitudes of community runs, Junior Olympic races, Hershey track meets, and junior high sports, I joined the high school cross-country team. By this time I was no longer running to get somewhere or away from something. I was running because it made me feel whole inside. It was beautiful, and it was love.
Practices took up all of my time after school. The countless hours I spent toughening up with my teammates and coach made me different than most of my classmates. While I was out there sweating on the hot sticky days of summer, gritting through the numbing rain and hail of our Oregon winters, I was finding out just how far I could push myself. Each day became a race to see how strong I was, how tough I could be, how much guts I truly had. I didn't even need other people anymore, thrashing myself was enough of a challenge.
This hunger for pushing beyond barriers was not reserved solely for the addicting pain of a hard run, but was also directed towards the rest of my life, especially my academic efforts. As a small town farm girl, the probability of my getting into one of the most rigorous liberal arts colleges in the nation wasn't very high. This was yet another race for me, and through cross-country I had proven to myself that I had the tenacity and strength to get where I wanted to go.
During the fall of my senior year, I spent my daylight hours running and my nights writing. I sealed my college application with memories of all of the laughter, arguments, blood, and determination which had gotten me thus far. I knew that no matter what happened, my years had made me strong. I am off to a good start in this race of life, and I know that I have guts enough to finish it.