My Running History: Chapter 4
Chapter four is a gloomy chapter in my running history. It's where I ran away from running. It started with playing two sports in the same season (cross country and soccer). Because I had earned a varsity letter in cross country, I had decided that, were there a conflict, I would choose running. I preferred soccer, and I had been named the captain of the team, but I had decided that I had a responsibility to the cross country team as a varsity letter winner. Unfortunately the conflict came to a head, not between soccer and cross country, but between church camp and cross country. Every year I went to church camp, but this particular year it conflicted with cross country practice. I asked the coach if he wanted a camp counselor to verify my miles (I woke up early every morning to run 5-6 miles, which was quite the accomplishment, considering how much sleep I got (or not) that week). As it turned out, I wasn't eligible for the first meet, so I went to a soccer game instead. The coach was extremely unhappy, and he called my house. I wasn't home, but instead of asking me to call him back (or waiting until practice the next day), he cussed my sister out. And suspended me for 3 days. I didn't care about the suspension; but here's the thing: nobody treated my sister like that (I didn't even treat her like that, and this was in the height of the days in which we didn't get along).
So I quit.
I continued to run track - I loved running track. I even loved the speed workouts, usually trying to run all of my splits faster than I was supposed to (if I was supposed to run a 75 second 400, I'd run 72). I ran the 3200m, the 1600m, and the 800m, and the long jump. I wasn't very good at the long jump (I was in the mid 15 feet). I wasn't very fast in the 800m (my fastest time was in the 2:08 range - not fast enough to make our 4x800 relay team). As a junior, I primarily ran the 3200 (not all that fast, but fast enough to score 1 point in our conference meet... which we won by 1 point - running as our #2 3200m runner all season and scoring in the conference meet was enough for my varsity letter). My fastest time, if I recall correctly, was 11:20. I liked the mile best, but we had some really strong mile runners, so my fastest time of 4:40 wasn't fast enough for varsity.
As a senior, I was involved in a minor discipline infraction (some of us were goofing around in practice and got in trouble for it), but the way the head coach chose to deal with it really upset me. Instead of talking about the infraction (or even on the need for a little maturity from me, as a senior), he got personal. He focused on my times not dropping (mostly because of how hard I was working - I was confident that my times would drop significantly when I began to taper for the important meets), and he told me the team didn't need me.
So I quit. I told him that if my times weren't dropping and if the team didn't need me, and since I wasn't going to run track in college, maybe my time would be better spent playing soccer and hanging out with my friends.
And that pretty much summed up my running history for the next seven years. I ran one 5K race when I was in college (disaster - I fell on a patch of ice and took two runners out), but it wasn't until seminary when I started running with any sort of regularity.