For as long as I can remember, my mom has been a runner, running with her best friend every morning. My mom is dedicated. It doesn’t matter what kind of weather; she will run without fail. There was a time when I didn’t understand her passion. The most I could run was a mile and that was done once a year for the presidential fitness test. Although I loved being active, I didn’t love long distance running. It wasn’t until freshman year of high school, however, that my failure to make the cheerleading squad led me to join the cross-country team.
Although I was disappointed about my cheerleading dreams not coming to fruition, I was excited about cross-country. My older sister, Hannah, did it in high school and we often went to her meets to support her. She was the captain and I loved seeing her cross the finish line and cheer her teammates on.
The truth is, when I first started, I hated it. Running five or six miles for practice seemed like some kind of sick joke. It also didn’t help that one of my triplet sisters, Sarah, was a natural runner. Being overly competitive, it was difficult to handle the defeat when I realized I just wasn’t as good. But, I continued to work hard, and although I never beat my sister, I gained something more valuable: a love of running. I started to look forward to the long runs where I could talk to my teammates or just reflect on the events of the day and run in silence. That love of distance running is something I will carry with me forever.
The races were some of the most challenging and grueling experiences I’ve ever endured, with hills that seemed to never end, rocky terrain, and screaming coaches. But, as soon as I crossed the finish line, that sense of accomplishment was all worth it. I realized how far my own two feet could carry me. And I saw how strong I truly was. Running with both of my triplet sisters, Sarah and Rachael, allowed me to see them in a new light. Both ran through injuries, both ran their hardest, and both showed me that jealousy isn’t a feeling I should ever harbor.
Running to me is more than exercise. It is something that binds my sisters, my mother and I. When I run, I remember cheering my older sister, Hannah, on at her cross-country races and being so impressed by her dedication. I think about my sister, Sarah, breaking the school record for the 2-mile in track and not feeling a ping of jealousy, just pride and astonishment. I think about my sister, Rachael, running despite severe shin splints so that she could support our cross-country team and realizing how tough she was. And I think about my sisters and I when we were little, seeing our mom, wake up every morning, lace up her New Balances and go out for a run.
I’m grateful to my mom for her influence and also for not making that cheerleading team. I would’ve been a horrible cheerleader.
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