Former Knights Cross Country Runner
This past June, I embarked on a journey across the state of North Dakota, from Grand Forks to Williston. The expedition consisted of running roughly 380 miles in 13 days, with 1 day of rest on the 8th day of the trip. The trip was easily the wildest, toughest, and most rewarding experience of my life, being able to run day in and day out for nearly 2 weeks. I gained a lot of valuable insight during the expedition, but the most rewarding part was revisiting the basics that I learned when running for Knights XC.
Running ultra-distance events requires the obvious physical fitness, and the much needed mental tenacity. On the 6th day, both of these were put to the test when I experienced the worst pains I’ve felt in my life. Tom Fisher, and Justin Gerszewski, my support cyclists and former runners from Central, and I had covered nearly 180 miles. I was feeling crushed. By this point, I had experienced some of the most excruciating pain in my knees that left me debilitated and lying on the side of the road.
This moment, as well as many others, was a deciding moment where I had to choose to push on or give in. I remember flashing back to my first year of XC in 8th grade, running a 2 mile time trial on Chestnut. It was my first time trial ever, and 1.5 miles in, I was so exhausted that I chose to stop for a bit. One of the senior runners passed by me, turned around, and started to jog in place beside me. He then asked how I was doing, and gave me the best encouragement/advice anyone had given me up until this point. He told me, “You’re doing great, keep it up. Whatever you do though, don’t ever stop. It doesn’t matter how slow you go, just keep running”. Ever since then, i’ve taken this piece of advice to heart. I used this great piece of knowledge as a constant reminder that all I could do is push forward and give it my best shot.
Another great piece of advice that led to my success, in addition to constantly pushing forward, was ‘doing the little things’. Coach did a great job of instilling the habit of embodying the lifestyle of a runner, not just to go run. In preparation for this run, it took countless hours of doing extra exercises, getting good sleep, and eating good meals to be ready for this feat.
No matter how awful you’re feeling, or how bad you want to quit, all you can do is push forward till the end. At some point the journey will be over, and all you can do is soak in the experience.