Last weekend I found myself watching excitedly as super speedy, super fit, super awesome runners ran circles around me at my very first indoor track meet, which I attended as a spectator thanks to a never-ending foot injury that’s kept me from running since October. Anyhow, I personally enjoy just going and watching meets because it means all of the fun and excitement of watching super speedy, super fit, super awesome runners without all of the nerves of competing. While I was standing there, taking everything in around me, I couldn’t help but feel this overwhelmingly large wave of sheer love for the sport topple over me like a tsunami. The sound of the gun going off. The bell ringing before the last lap (my absolute favorite part…it gives me goose bumps every time!). The cheers. The short-shorts (my second absolute favorite part). Seeing people leave it all on the line and push themselves past the breaking point. It’s exhilarating. It’s incredible. And I love it.
Becoming a collegiate runner (that’s fun to type) was the best decision of my college career, right up there with changing majors. As cheesy as it sounds, I’ve learned so many valuable life lessons since joining the cross country and track teams last semester:
1.) That I’m capable of handling so much more physical and mental pain than I give myself credit for.
2.) That while we’re constantly being bombarded with messages that life needs to be absolutely picture-perfect all the time (hello, Instagram), real life is beautiful and awesome without all the fancy filters. You should see the ridiculous things kids wear at meets. Heck, you should see me at meets! During cross country season, it would be windy, cold, rainy…the elements forced me to stop trying so hard to be perfect, put on five shirts and two pairs of pants, and accept the fact that my hair looked absolutely ridiculous. And even though I didn’t look ready for social media by any means, I was having the time of my life, running from one part of the course to the next, cheering on my teammates. Isn’t that what life is about? Living? It’s a novel idea, but I feel like we’ve forgotten how to do just that!
3.) That the simple things in life are the best. Things like having teammates to love and see first thing in the morning at 6:30 for practice. Like being outside and breathing in big lungfuls of fresh air. Like playing games like “20 questions” on the stationary bike to distract each other from the boringness that is cross-training.
Since last weekend, I’ve been doing lots of thinking, as per usual. It’s my last semester here at Fontbonne before I head off to another school to complete my second undergraduate degree in chemistry. But then what? After such an amazing final year, I can’t help but wonder if maybe a fancy lab job isn’t for me, especially if the thought of working in a lab day in and day out kind of stresses me out and fills me with dread. I can’t help but wonder if maybe I’m meant to do something else, something that may not make me super rich or whatever, but might make me super happy, like being a chemistry teacher (or professor??) and a coach. Having a team again, getting to share my love for both science and sport with other people would be so awesome! It’s just a thought. Because I think the most important lesson I’ve learned this year is that what really, really matters in life is being happy. Not perfect. Not rich. Not best-dressed. But happy.
Here’s to the future, to track and field, and to not knowing exactly what’s going to happen to me. I’m excited for this semester…are you?
P.S. One of my favorite track videos…note that bell at the end! The suspense!