As the end of any track or cross country season approaches, I feel warm but simultaneously uneasy. I look forward to championship meets, discovering just how far my teammates and I can push ourselves when the stakes are high. Yet, I dread crossing the finish line of my last race, as the act marks the end of seeing my teammates on a regular basis.
This year was different. After our first outdoor meet in Missouri, I developed minor shin splints for the first time in my running career. With a drop in mileage and diligent muscle care, I could run through the pain; still, I counted down the days until my post-season two-week break. As the pain fluctuated, I feared a drop in my performances or worse–an actual injury that would end my season. Thankfully ice baths, soccer field loops, compression socks and lots of prayer carried me through mid-May to the conference championships in Winona.
Just make it through today, I thought as I woke up on Saturday. Only 6500 meters of racing, and my beat-up legs would finally receive a full recovery.
6500 meters later, God changed my heart.
Watching my teammates’ gutsy races throughout the day reminded me that we didn’t travel five hours east to just go through the motions. My job was to compete for Christ and my team–and to encourage others to do the same. At the end of the night, Claire, Courtney and I finished the 5k within a second of each other, and I teared up thinking about how beautifully cliche the race was; we started and finished the season as a team.
And so it goes. Another track season ended not with relief but with gratitude, bittersweetness and a hunger for cross country.
Fortunately, I will be staying in Sioux Falls this summer, working as a huddle leader for FCA’s All Sport All Summer Camp. Though I adore staying with my family in Lincoln, this job will give me the opportunity to run with my teammates in the offseason–something I always took for granted in high school, when we all lived in the same city. Also, getting paid for playing with kids and spreading the love of Christ is a dream.
But for now, I will try not to cry (too much) at our team banquet tonight as we send off our lovely seniors into the real adult world.