By: Libby D.

All I can feel is the pain in my legs. My muscles working. Goodness running is difficult. I just got to keep thinking about when the race is over and the sensation I will feel. For me the beginning of races are always the worst. I am always finding myself contemplating why I even decided to join cross country and why did I choose running as a sport? But then to my left is Courtney and I look ahead to see the Olivias and Kate, some of the people in this sport that made me love running. I think about how I will feel when I pass the finish line and I can go find my water bottle. The pain in my legs disappears and I just keep going. 

I feel Courtney falling behind but I tell her, “C’mon Court. Stay with it!” As I run, I’m in a constant battle with myself to go faster or to slow down. Sometimes my mind wins, and I take slower steps but then I hear my coach encouraging me by saying “You’re doing great, Lib” then sharing my time as another boost of encouragement. “No way, I’m pacing great!” is the thought I always want to have when I hear my time for the first mile. 

COVID-19 has impacted so many people this year, for me before COVID,  I never thought that I would have joined cross country. But the opportunity arose when the summer league for my main sport, basketball, was cancelled and fall season was pushed back. I needed something to do in this time of nothing that would keep me in shape as well as fill all the socialization that was put on hold. For my county, in the middle of June they opened fall sport practices and that was my chance to try something new.

In the beginning it was so difficult. I had never in my life just gone for a run for fun, like some of my teammates. When I first signed up, I immediately got welcoming texts from all the captains, even some of them asking for me to come run with them. So, the first day was not that difficult but the day after and the week as a whole was just so bad. My body was working hard to keep me stabilized. But I knew it was going to get better, it had to. And that happened when we were separated into groups per our running speed, that’s when I found my wonderful running group.

Friends. I believe you need them in this sport. You need support. You need people who are at your speed and think like you. And I really needed friends during COVID, I missed having them. Finding this social outlet helped make up for all the time that socialization was restricted. 

Yeah, it was running every day. But it was so much more. The races, the early morning bus rides, getting to practice early to see my friends. And who can forget the runs in the pouring rain? The times where we would go hangout at someone’s house. Getting to know new people who I never thought I would hangout with or even be in a group complaining. 

There was so much that made my summer of COVID-19, quarantine, beginning of friendships in this abnormal time and running. Lots and lots of running. 

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