The Sport That Destroyed Me
“GO! PUSH HARDER! DON’T GIVE UP ON ME YET!”, yelled my coach. “I can’t. I’m tired. Shut up. Why don’t you run this race and see how it feels?” I thought as I was pushing through the last 50 meters with 1,000 pound legs and burning lungs. As much as I hated it, now I would do anything to feel like that again.
In my freshman year of high school, I heard there was a new track coach. I also heard he seemed pretty hard on his athletes; this scared me but also excited me a little bit. On the first day of practice, I knew I had to prove myself to him. I was a tiny little freshman who wanted to be right with the seniors, kicking ass on the track. (I also had good-relationships with the seniors because my dad was also their favorite teacher at our school- guess it’s not that bad going to the same high school your dad teaches at. It does suck when he has your locker right next to his classroom, scaring the boys away from me.)
I’ve always been a bit quiet, but somehow I stood out to this new scary (& bald) coach. I really wanted to be a 100 or 200 meter sprinter, but he saw potential in me to run something else- the 400 meter dash. This race is the absolute worst if you ask most sprinters. Sprinting an entire lap of the track… Screw that! But, I loved it after my first race.
Sophomore year came and I was excited as ever for the new indoor and outdoor track season to start. I was ready to get back on the track and kick ass with my team. We had our first meet and things did not go as planned… I sucked. I was so disappointed in my times and jumps that I decided to hit the weight room more and train a little harder. A few days after the meet, I realized my hip hurt a little bit. I thought, “Well, I just had skating practice (figure skating) and I ran hard a couple days ago, maybe I pulled it a little. It’ll go away with rest and stretches.”
The pain didn’t go away though; it only grew worse. My parents took me to see an orthopedic doctor and after endless tests, there was nothing visibly wrong. I was referred to physical therapy to help strengthen my muscles, the doctors thought I had just pulled my muscle. I continued the season with a bad hip and became so discouraged with my times that I didn’t even want to run anymore.
Then came junior year. After a long rest, I was sure I would be back on the track with great times soon. To my surprise, this was not going to be the case. One day, I missed an important sprint workout and was told by my coach to go make it up on my own. The workout was to run repeat 200’s with little rest in between each set. The second 200 I ran, SNAP went my hip muscle (the labrum) and face-first down on the track I went with agonizing pain and tears streaming down my face. Little did I know my running career would come to a quick end.
After that, I raced only 2 more times during my high school track career. My heart completely broke. What was I going to do now? I had plans to run in college and have an awesome athletic career. I learned I had to kiss all of that good-bye.
I finally had hip surgery and I was devastated not being able to be active. After recovering and many hours of water physical therapy, I learned I would never be able to run my heart out on a track ever again. My hopes & dreams of becoming a college athlete ended and watching my friends compete in college was like torture to me. I would go to the gym and not be able to finish my planned workout because my hip hurt so bad, even a year after surgery. I would get so frustrated I would cry (sorry, Shane. He was always my shoulder to cry on during this frustration.)
Even though I still have my days where I get frustrated to the point of not wanting to finish my workout, I am stronger. I learned I can overcome anything that sets me back. It may not be the same, but I’ll work my hardest to get close to being the same. I learned I can be a leader and a coach, I was team captain my 2 years of not running and helped/supported my teammates through their struggles. I learned that my coach was my hero and that he helped me stay positive through this mess. He was always there for me (and still is) and taught me to be patient. And most of all, I learned to appreciate something I took for granted.