The Starting Line

I was nine years old, standing in the early fall Nebraskan sun, adjusting the velcro around the sleeves of my YMCA soccer jersey. My teammates and I scattered the field, anxiously awaiting a goal kick from the opposing team. I was thirsty, I was hot, but I had fortunately eaten the meal of champions–an Auntie Anne’s soft pretzel hot dog–just before the game. Nothing could break my concentration as the opposing team’s goalie readied herself for the ultimate kick.

Foot struck ball, and I cowered from the small, round object that we had been trained to chase. I lifted my knee, squinted my eyes, and braced for impact. In a miraculous turn of events, the soccer ball hit my knee, bounced off, and rolled back into the goal.

It was the first and only point I would score all season. I. Was. Ecstatic.

This one and only goal was a defining moment for me, the climax of the first 19 years of my life. The incomparable joy I gleaned from this moment would motivate me to pursue a successful soccer career.

I’m totally kidding.

Fortunately, young, awkward Alana would soon discover a sport that required little to no coordination: cross country. Despite my many athletic shortcomings, my parents noticed that I was almost never benched in soccer; I was the only girl on the team who could run around the field during the entirety of the game without tiring.

Ten years later, I’m still running in circles. Now a proud circle-runner for Augustana University, I couldn’t imagine my life without cross country and track–seemingly monotonous sports to outsiders. Though I confess I am addicted to the endorphin highs, fatigue and competition that comes with racing, these elements aren’t primarily what have kept me invested in distance running.

Ultimately, I run for the people. And after running for the people–the coaches and teammates who comprise my second family– for nearly a decade, I want to write for the people too.

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Preceding a runner’s 20 minutes in the spotlight are millions of moments filled with heartbreak, laughter, joy, exhaustion, hope, pain and everything in between. Through this blog, I hope to bring these moments out of the dark. I firmly believe that inside of every runner–nay, inside of every person–is a story; my goal, thus, is to share these stories.

Because runners are worth so much more than their times.

The sport of running itself extends beyond the clock, beyond the finish line and beyond the trails. Running is an expression of faith. Running is a celebration of overcoming adversity.

Running is a community of wonderfully weird humans, just like you and I.

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