What Hill?

“Ready, set, GO!”

I’ve never even thought about running 3 miles before. And I am not kidding.
But once I reached that goal, I fell in love with running. And I am not kidding either.

I was not born to be a runner, so I did not treat running seriously in the beginning.

Last year I joined the cross-country team, because we did not have tennis.
“It’s just running, not a big deal,” I told myself. But I was totally wrong.

Everyday we ran different things. At the beginning, I could not even finish one whole mile without walking and the worst part of my day was always  sports time.
The sun never rested during the practice. We did harder workouts at least once a week. I could not walk the day after tough practice. I was hurting everywhere on my body.

But I was getting better.

Then I had to face the very first cross-country meet in my life – at Thatcher.
I was extremely nervous. I could feel my legs shaking and my heart was beating like a drum.
I did not expect to run the whole three miles, that seemed impossible to me. But I decided to try anyways.

Everyone was exhausted and I just kept running in slow pace. I thought about the days we ran together; I thought about how Mr. Alvarez encouraged us and pushed our backs; I thought about home and wondered if my parents were having fun this holiday; I thought… I thought about everything, i thought about nothing.
I just ran and ran.

Everyone was encouraging me as well. “Let’s go, Shelly!”

“Almost there!”

“Way to run girl!”
And yes, I finished it without stopping or walking. I guess that would be the time I felt the most proud of myself.

After the very first race, I changed my opinion of running. I did not hate it or fear it anymore. I started to accept it because I knew I was capable of defeating it.
Three month’s of training, the season ended strongly with all the incredible improvements i gained everyday.

This year, I was glad to see our cross-country team grow much bigger, with more than 20 people.
The weather was fervent as well, of course. We ran pretty much the same courses but it did not feel as painful as it did before.

As for me, running is not only the thing I do to fulfill my sports time. It changes me, slowly but thoroughly. I became faster and stronger.

Our team got new shirts this year, and they says “What Hill?” on the back. They are the best shirts ever, I think, because no one else but we runners know the special meanings of those two words.

Finally it comes – my last cross-country meet at Thatcher, the place where everything begins.

It is probably my last time running a whole 3-miles course with my friends, wearing the green uniforms which we would never stop complaining about.

We don’t run for the certain miles or the destination, we don’t run for fame or glory.
But we do run to conquer all kinds of hills, we do run to challenge and prove ourselves.

We line up as usual. Everyone is encouraging each other and smiling.

Suddenly my heart is filled with joy.
Suddenly I realize that running does not only bring me power and strength to defeat all the distance and hills; running brings me courage, friendships, love, and valuable memories.

Yes, we are Cross-Country Team.


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