A few weeks ago, I competed in my first outdoor meet for Oakland in three years.
For many student-athletes, this would be great but no big deal.
For me, it took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to come back after five stress fractures in six years and major surgery on a broken femur to run that weekend.
There’s a saying in running that “just making the starting line is an accomplishment itself.”
That statement resonated with me in every way possible.
You never appreciate being healthy more than when you’re not.
When I was younger, I took my good health for granted. Sure, I had my bumps in bruises but nothing really major. I assumed I’d always be healthy, and whatever happened, I’d always bounce back.
That changed midway through high school. Suddenly, Murphy’s law was in full effect. I’d run well for a few months and then experience a stress fracture. I’d recover from it and eventually get another. This happened on and on until finally, my body had enough, and I broke my femur, which required surgery and three large screws to repair fully.
But more than my femur was broken.
It’s easy to get discouraged when you go through so many injuries and so many setbacks. To run less hard, to worry about every bit of pain you experience.
The injuries don’t just take away your health; they take away your confidence.
You train less, you run less, you race less.
But I’m a runner. It’s not just something I do; it’s a huge part of my life.
And when I can’t run, I can’t be me. And that hurts more than any rehab or surgery ever could.
Each injury made it harder to return.
After so much pain and disappointment, you wonder, “why go through this again?”
Well, let me tell you why.
It was always my dream to run for Oakland. I know most athletes say that about the school they represent, but my situation is different. You see, my father has been coaching Oakland for years. I grew up watching this team race and compete. I wanted to be coached by him as he is a huge part of my ‘why’.
And as I grew up and ran more and more, all of my dreams of running at the collegiate level involved me running for Oakland.
Representing the school and community I’ve been a part of since I was a kid. Finally achieving the dream and running here has been the privilege of my lifetime. I take running for this school seriously.
This was my dream, and to protect this dream and keep it, I’ll do anything.
That means doing my rehab, listening to my doctors, and preparing my body to return to that starting line once again.
I might fall six times, but I get back up seven.
I run for Oakland because it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, and doing it gives me a joy and pride that few people ever achieve or feel.
I don’t talk about it often, but being a female runner is important to me. I think of all I’ve gone through and what it took to achieve it, and it’s been a challenging journey.
I’ve had a great system of love and support from my family, and I know not all women have the same environment. So, when I’m running, I’m not just running for myself or my family; I’m running for every young girl who has dreams like me.
Who fights for their dream, gets discouraged, but perseveres.
It’s kind of weird to think of yourself as an ‘inspiration,’ but it’s true, even if I don’t like to acknowledge it. Kids look up to me. I’ve done some coaching, and I have worked with my running community, and I know they look up to me just like I look up to them.
We all help each other, and when I’m going through my personal battles, I think of them and their battles.
If they won’t quit, how can I?
Now I’m back and feel better than I have in years.
I’m better, stronger, and faster.
I still have a long way to go to reach my potential, but now I’m in a position to achieve it. It’s been a long journey but running that weekend was a huge step forward.
I’ve been put through the wringer. The stress fractures, the surgery, a pandemic, mono, and a bout of anemia for good measure.
Through it all, I fought to keep a good attitude and wake up every day ready to take my challenges head-on.
I didn’t back down. In fact, I think I won already.
All those challenges are gone, and now I’m here, ready to race, and ready to run.
So let’s do this!
I’ve been preparing for these moments my whole life. We all have our challenges, and I’ve overcome mine. I hope you overcome yours.
I hope my story inspires and motivates you in any way it can to keep going, keep pushing, and to reach your starting line.
I’ll see you at the next race.