Throwback Thursday: My First Season as a Photographer

Welcome to the third Throwback Thursday! Each week, I will share one running-related photo from my past and explain why looking back on that moment brings me joy. Click here for last week’s post.


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When I think about the 2017 Roy Griak Invitational, I remember pushing through fatigue as I sprinted over rolling hills. I remember fighting achy muscles, intense humidity and common sense — that little voice that screams “STOP RUNNING AND GO TAKE A NAP!” when perseverance matters most.

Technically, I wasn’t in the race that day, but I sure felt like it.

The fall of 2017 was my first season as an unofficial Augustana cross country team photographer: a title I had given myself shortly after being diagnosed with a femoral stress reaction. From the moment I snapped my first picture, I decided that I wanted to treat my new role as a photographer just as seriously as I treated my training.

Since I didn’t know the Griak course well, I decided to follow my head coach, Tracy Hellman, as soon as the race started. Tracy wanted to see his athletes as much as possible during the race, so I knew that if I stuck with him, I’d have plenty of opportunities to take photos of my teammates. Simple, right?

Turns out my plan was pretty hardcore, especially for an athlete who was still working her way back from an injury. When the starting gun fired, Tracy quickly disappeared. Oh crap, I thought. I was severely unprepared for the physical and mental pain I was about to endure.

Fortunately, I survived at least long enough to write this blog post, and overtime, my passion grew for cross country photography. As a collegiate runner, I enjoyed pushing my physical limits and challenging myself for the good of the team; as a photographer, I am able to do the same — while flexing my creative muscles, too.

Looking at this photo always makes me smile. Specifically, it intensifies the gratitude I feel towards my college coaches and teammates, who encouraged my photographic pursuits during my time at Augustana. And, as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I’m grateful that God didn’t give me a flawless athletic career. Instead, He gave me an opportunity to discover new gifts, new passions and new ways to serve my teammates.

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