Steve Prefontaine

International Track Star - Running Legend

2011 Alissa Miller
Bandon High School
Oregon State University

An Essay by Alissa Miller

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the Gift"

Growing up, I participated in many different sports, but never running. The first month of my seventh grade year, I had a stroke. It occurred when I was at school, in my second period English class. My slurred speech, facial droop, and no movement of my left side, left me wondering if I would ever walk or speak normally again. I was life flighted up to OHSU Hospital and kept there for three days. After various scans and tests, I was diagnosed with ASD (Atrial Septal Defect), a bicuspid valve defect, and hemiplegic migraines. I received heart surgery two weeks later. I was devastated. Would this end my sports career? My Cardiologist told me to take the next three months off sports and we would take it from there. Thankfully, after two months, I was cleared to return to sports. I decided to go out for the track team. I quickly became fond of running. Having the stroke happen to me at such a young age really opened my eyes to the fact that life-threatening events can happen at any time. It taught me to make the most of every day and value everything I have, because one day, it might not be there. I came out of this experience driven to succeed. I made a promise to myself that I would try my best at everything I do.

I've done track every year since the seventh grade. Over the last year and a half, I have enjoyed long distance running. At times when I run, I think about my stroke, and how I could've never discovered my gift of running if I was permanently paralyzed. It makes me appreciate my life and what God has given me. It drives me to run with inner strength and dedication.

When agony doubles over in pain, when everything hurts, when I've reached the point of exhaustion, I keep pushing to the end; for I know, the reward is worth the suffering. I'm content with not always winning a race as long as I know that I put forth my capital effort. Running is a release for me. It's something I look forward to every day. I often sit in class and think to myself, "I can't wait to run after school today". I have really grown to appreciate my gift of running and all its benefits. I don't just run to stay in shape. I run because it makes me at ease. Once I am finished running, my day feels complete. When I run, I feel that I have made a positive choice that will impel me to make other positive choices. Running keeps my heart and mind healthy and cleansed.

I think that this is a great quote by Pre and very well spoken. When I feel like throwing in the towel, I will think of this quote, and it will help me to push to the end. I believe that we were all born with a certain set of abilities, or in Pre's words, "a Gift". This gift is different for every person, everyone should embrace the gift that they are given and the rest will follow.