The year 2020 will no doubt go down in the history books as one of the most trying times in modern history. In a year like this it's easy complain about all the traditions we've missed out on, or the many trials and inconveniences we've had to endure. Whether that be missed meets, quarantines, canceled proms and homecoming dances, no big family holiday gatherings, or a canceled track season there is a lot we could complain about this year.
However, I think in a year like this we should be thankful for what we do have instead of being fully focused on the negatives. While I could make an entire list of things we could be thankful for this year, I'm going to focus on what I am most thankful for this year, and really every year for the last 12 years of my life.
I'm deeply thankful for running.
I started running in middle school "to get in shape" and its just always clicked with me. I would plug my headphones into my original iPod Nano and run down the country road I lived on (which is very hilly I might add) and just go run. I found out early on it was a good stress reliever, and as someone who struggles with anxiety it was always a good release for me even when I was that young. There's just something about pushing yourself and just going out and running that relieves stress and makes you feel accomplished after.
Eighth grade is when I started to run competitively when I joined my junior high track team. It was then that I really started to realize how much I enjoyed running. I had some success, but it was really the atmosphere and community that stood out to me. Everyone was so positive, and everyone was always hoping you would achieve that big PR each race. To me that made sense for people who were on your team, but what surprised me was how that even the people you are competing with would be happy for you. There is some kind brotherhood amongst runners that is unlike anything in any other sport in the sense that you actually want your opponent to do well. This is probably the thing I love about our sport more than anything, and its that sense of community.
I ran competitively all throughout high school at Neosho and got the opportunity to run in college at Maryville University. I was fortunate to have some success and have the opportunity to run for some great coaches with great teammates at both places. At the end of the day I was very happy with my career when I decided to hang it up, but my love for the sport never went away.
When I got a Facebook message from a former college teammate asking me to come coach at Francis Howell, I jumped at the chance. Little did I know at the time that it was possible to love running even more than I already did.
I've coached at Francis Howell now for going on five years, and I love running now more than ever. I never thought I would ever feel more fulfilled than my senior year of high school when we broke our school record and qualified for the state meet for the first time in the 4x200, but man was I wrong. I have that same feeling several times a year when I see kids that I've worked with so happy and smiling after achieving that PR in a race, or ran the furthest they ever had, or just had a faster average pace on a gen run than they did the year before. There are tons of moments like that from running that can be so rewarding.
I'm also very thankful for all those long runs in the cold, rain, snow, heat, wind, and anywhere in between. Our sports is tough, to stay fit we have to push ourselves to get out there no matter the conditions or how we are feeling. No matter the conditions or the weather, every day that I get to run is a blessing. Whether that be alone to clear my head on the Katy Trail, or running through Busch Wildlife with my team listening to their stories from their lives, or getting lost in Busch because we took a trail we never had and don't know how to read a map, I'm thankful for every step of it. Even on days where I feel terrible and my legs are sore, I still feel better for getting out and doing it than I would if I stayed at home.
All in all running has given me so much, but at the end of the day its the relationships with the people in our sport that have made the most impact on me. Like I said earlier our sport is a community like no other, and the people I've gotten to know through running has made me a better person, and given me insight to so many different things. To wrap up this article I'm going to wrap up by thanking some of the many people I've met through our running community who have impacted my life.
I'm thankful to have met Terri Kemna, Zac Nelson, Harry Lineberry, Tom Thorne, Beth Alms, Chris Auckley, Cody Thorn, John Cunningham, Chloe Figgins, Nicole Halstead, Tracy Carlson, Kyle Deeken, Don Rich, Rich Schilling, Frank Logan, Mickey Kauffman, Cody Elmendorf, Jackson Foster, Justin McKee, Isaac McMaster, Will McDaniel, Johnny Lowe, Chet Hall, Courtney Wood, Sydnie Lowe, and every Francis Howell Viking I've had the opportunity to coach, and everyone else who has made this community what it is.
Thank you all for reading, and have a Happy Thanksgiving.