“They say hard work pays off. I learned this by putting one foot in front of the other. Through cross country and track I have developed a strong work ethic and the mental fortitude to never give in, no matter how hot or cold the weather is or how tired or sore I am. When I first started track, I was a sprinter, but I decided to go out for cross country the following fall because my brother was a successful distance runner. Although I’m not as good as he is, it has shaped me into who I am today.
Unfortunately, my high hopes for my senior season of cross country were crushed when I learned I might not be able to compete at all. It all started in June 2010. Staying upfront with the varsity girls, I was doing pretty well. Then one day I felt a pull in my left knee. I ignored it, thinking it was all in my head. But all through the next week it still hurt and got worse. Then, during a workout one day, I reached out my leg and felt a snap. Immediately, I fell to the ground, unable to put any weight on my knee. I went to the doctor later that day; only to find out I overused my patella tendon. Even now, I cringe when thinking about it. He told me there was a good chance I would not be able to compete that season, which had just begun. Feeling my throat tighten, I looked away so he wouldn’t see me cry.
Determined to compete before the end of my final cross country season, I wasn’t willing to let this injury slow me down. First my coach had me start speed walking. I felt like the middle-aged ladies walking through my neighborhood, but I was willing to do anything‚ even look ridiculous ‚ if it might help me recover more quickly. Two weeks later, I was able to start lightly jogging for twenty minutes. By the third meet I was competing again, but I knew I could do better. At the very last meet, I ran faster than my best time by almost a minute‚ quite an improvement in cross country. I’m not saying my knee was magically cured – it still hurt – but I pushed through it, knowing I would never get another high school season.
Running is every other sport’s punishment, and it is true that running is not always enjoyable, but my life would not be the same without it. Through running, I’ve learned to endeavor to be the best I can be, strive to succeed, and persevere until my goals are reached. I set an example for the younger girls on the team. I plan to carry the values I have gained throughout my life, and with a good education I know I can succeed at anything I set my mind on.
Student Essay: Published with Permission
Lynn Radlauer Lubell, Publisher of InLikeMe.com and Founder of Admission By Design, an Educational Consultancy based in Boca Raton, Florida.