For my fall sport this year, I decided to tackle something completely new—cross country. Running had never been something I was good at, and thirty minutes on a treadmill had definitely been the extent of my abilities. Even the thought of spending my afternoons jogging on uneven terrain was foreign and daunting. However, for whatever reason, I decided to give it a shot.
We ran the triangle for our first practice of the season, a trail down to the boathouse and along the river. Nervous anticipation filled me as I began the jog, but with every rhythmic crunch of my feet hitting the gravel, I felt my entire body loosen up and relax. A gentle breeze sifted through the trees, and the lush green leaves rustled in a whispered harmony. Soon, the ground beneath my feet became entwined with gnarled tree roots, and then gave way to an open field of grass. Before I knew it, we had finished the trail.
I felt stronger and lighter with every practice, and my teammates pulled me on with their support and encouragement. We concluded our first week with a race at St. George’s. Every mile brought sharp turns and hills, but the steady sea of red jerseys and swishing ponytails pulled me on. Racing past the finish line, I couldn’t catch my breath, and my legs were sore and numb. But the exhilaration of having pushed myself to my limits definitely made up for all of the pain.
As we are entering the middle of our season, practices have become harder, with a lot more mileage built into the week. My favorite sessions are definitely our long runs on Monday. Unlike other sports, running doesn’t require any strategic thinking, so I can fully appreciate every moment, instead of planning what I’m going to do in the next one. It’s hard soaking in all of the scenery around me. Rays of early autumn sun flit through the trees, adorning the ground with patches of light. Trees are draped with red and scarlet leaves, and the scent of pine needles lingers in the air. After a run, I’m always rejuvenated and refreshed.
From fun Fridays (where we dress up in different themes) to cheering each other on at the finish line, one of my favorite things about being on the team is definitely the spirit. Even though we run in different groups, we all contribute to a larger whole. Cross country may seem like an individual sport, but running together not only makes you faster, but also makes the journey a lot more enjoyable.
My experience on the cross-country team has been a great one so far, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.