“Some people create with words or music or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run.” – Steve Prefontaine
I became a runner when I moved to Oregon. I’m not sure whether my family’s relocation to the Coos Bay/North Bend area, distance Mecca and hometown of Steve Prefontaine; or some other factor prompted this transformation. However, to my then fourth-grade brain, the two events were indistinguishable. In my first week of school at Hillcrest Elementary , we ran the mile in physical education and I took second; a boy running in cowboy boots beat me. I was hooked, and have been running ever since.
Running is not just a sport; it is a philosophy. It is a belief in the value of hard work, dedication, and goals. Although obstacles such as injuries or illness may hinder progress towards an individual goal, they tend to strengthen personal resolve and perspective in the long run. For example, during, my sophomore year of cross-country, I suffered from a severe case of what was later determined to be iron-deficiency anemia. Frustrated and depressed, I considered not finishing the season. However, loyalty to my teammates and coaches, as well as to the sport I loved, would not allow me to quit. When a physical explanation was determined after the season, it reaffirmed my dedication to the sport, and I was able to rediscover the joy of running the following season. Since then, I have placed at the state track meet three times and have been on the second-place state cross-country and track teams. However, these apparent successes are no more valuable to me than my sophomore year of cross country. The lessons I learned that season about individual resiliency, perspective, and the value of family, coaches, and teammates are more valuable than any state medal.
Now as a senior in high school, I look back on the sport that has been such an integral part of my existence for the last nine years. What was it that originally attracted my interest to the sport, and maintained it all the way through high school? Running is not as glamorous or as high-profile as many other sports. However, its inherent simplicity of an individual striving not necessarily for victory, but for a personal goal, renders it unique. For me, nothing is more beautiful than the passionate pursuit of something loved. It is the effort that is beautiful, not just the outcome.