Like many runners, I ran cross-country in high school. Freshman year was the first time the brand-new school had a team, and there were eight of us. Practices were simple, neither us nor the coaches had any idea what we were doing. “Run to this point and back” were the only instructions. We ran without water or watches, in cotton t-shirts, and fueling usually involved a candy bar from the vending machine. The size of team grew over the next three years, but nothing else really changed. The irony of it all? I was fast back then! This picture is from my sophomore year, when I placed second at the league meet with a time of 21 minutes and some seconds (way too long to remember anymore).
It’s been fourteen years since I raced. I tried channeling 16-year old Jessica in this morning’s 5K run and pushed myself for a faster time. I think teenage me laughed a little bit, but hopefully still feels proud! I’m certainly a lot healthier than I used to be, and the vending machine snacks and poor training are distant memories. 28 minutes and some seconds is quite a bit slower, but all things considered still feels pretty awesome.