My Running Start

We all have our stories about how we started running or fell in love with a particular sport.  I grew up playing soccer, but never really considered myself a runner. Honestly I don’t think I did too much running on the field when I was younger.  Even though my dad was the coach throughout my childhood, I was more of the “daisy-picker.”  It’s not that I didn’t like soccer, because I love the sport, but I just didn’t have the same connection as my dad had to it. I also didn’t have the exact running body that most people associate with the sport.

My first cross-country race in 2006

When it was time to enter middle school, my dad felt it was important to take me jogging, so that I could actually make it through the P.E. hour, compete in the obstacle course, and of course the mile, the longest event our teachers made us suffer through. Oh I remember those trips to the local track quite well. It went something like this.  Grudgingly get out of the car…walk down to the dirt track…plod along as long as I could manage and then slow to a walk as I simultaneously whine and complain.  Who knew that I would someday adore the sport and look forward to long runs on the weekends?

It seemed as if the “running” and fitness we supposedly did in soccer wasn’t helping me out that much. Then, Dad would have to take my hand and practically drag me around the track.  Week by week it got better.

I don’t think I had really even heard of running for leisure or even cross-country until my freshman year of high school.  By that time I had been involved with volleyball (one of my many childhood mistakes), and decided to compete in spring’s track season in the 400 meter race and long jump.  Towards the end of the year, I got serious about sports and started to jog after school around the track.  As June approached, I noticed the cross-country team start to meet at the track after school and head out on their daily runs.  There was one girl I sort of knew, Mandy, who was on the team and was in the same geometry class as I was.  One day, before they set out, Mandy came by and said, “Hey, you should run with us! Ok, we’ll see you at the track tomorrow!”  With that, she and the team ran off and I was left standing on the track.  I had no other choice than to show up.  From there I’d like to say the rest is history or at least a story for another time.

Team warmup – pre Woodbridge race

I began to run cross-country during the summer entering my sophomore year and had a wonderful couple of years under Coach Tony Haynes and finished off my high school running career under Coach Andy DiConti during my senior year.  I also introduced my sister to the sport.  She was a top-runner during her four years on the team and is headed off to run as a part of the long-distance team at CMC.

Senior Year XC – Probably my favorite year ever.  Here we are as “Domo Fairies” for the Halloween Fun Run

Throughout high school, I made a number of friends but most of all was introduced to the concept of commitment, perseverance, and community.

Our team’s annual Thanksgiving tradition.  Each girl receives a cape representing her personality or quirky habits (mine with a milk gallon for my love of milk and recycling) and we all wear them together as we run the local Turkey Trot 5k.

My running story to be continued…

“I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart.” – Mike Fanelli


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