Full circle moments. Life is full of them. And, today was a full circle day.
Growing up as a little, little peep, my closest buddy was my cousin, George. Three months a part in age, we spent lots of time, proven by many adorable pictures, together as kids. And though there was a space that grew in between us growing up, our Grams always kept us informed on what the other was up to.
Coincidentally, though he was into wrestling and I was into dance, we both ended up being distance runners in high school. We would cheer each other on at meets, and that carried over into college as we both continued on with the sport after high school. Even when my college coach decided to host a meet on his property…of the three schools that were there, Kent State was one of them…and that’s where George went.
We lived in different states after college as we started our own families, but have once again been brought back together by distance running…and the Browns. Tailgating games in honor of our ever-shitty pro-football team that we’ll never give up on…because we’re actual Cleveland Browns fans. And, now, we both coach high school Cross Country.
So, through childhood, and distance running, we have this unspoken bond that keeps us together. Like Grams, up there in heaven, is still to this day keeping us informed on what the other is doing at all times.
Today, at Tiffin for the Regional meet, wishing George good luck…talking about how my nephew Matt and his top guy would be close competitors for the State Qualifying mark…full circle moment. Regional Open Race, Tiffin 2013. Look out…here we come. lol.
The race his team and my nephew ran in…it’s the best of the best…in the state. And it’s always been that way. No one will ever be able to relate to how it feels to run faster than the state qualifiers from other regions and not make it out to state…accept those who leave that finish line teary-eyed. It’s intensely competitive.
I’ve spent the last four years trying to get that message across to the distance runners in my small little lake town…but being back in the midst of the tradition of excellent running today lifted my spirits from the disappointment in how my own team competed this season.
Watching my nephew…who has been dedicated to his sport longer than most people are dedicated to anything their whole lives…watching him smoke people as a middle school-er…winning by huge gaps of time…watching him learn how to race at that big Tiffin meet…watching him overcome injury to come back better than ever before. Matt literally inspired me to coach. After watching him win a meet in junior high…me running all over the course to cheer…I realized then that I still had more to give to this sport. And, that I better find a team to coach or Matt was going to be really sick of my advice by Senior year…:)
My sister-in-law is the big sister I never had in life. And Matt’s running bonded us even more. It made me feel like part of the family…distance running isn’t something everyone gets. In fact, it’s a sport that no one gets unless they compete in it themselves or watch their kids do it. So, how cool is it to bond over running with my Sees like that. It’s cool. Now her son…District Champ…and now, after today, top 10 in the Region. The best Region. The toughest Region. And on to State. It brings tears to my eyes, because I KNOW how hard that is. Not just to make it to State, but to make it to State here. At Tiffin. Senior year. Where there is no more room for learning how to race…no room for doubt…just guts. Especially today, sliding in the mud, just trying to do everything possible to fight for that spot to State. That spot that he’s been gunning for for many years now…many years that we’ve all witnessed. The ups and the downs. And now, the sweet triumph of accomplishment. Go, Matt. 🙂
Needless to say, an emotional day. THAT’S why I got into coaching XC. Because I relate to my cousin and his team, being disappointed in missing state by four points because one of their runners bit it down the mudslide of a hill before the mile mark. Because I am motivated myself to stick with my sport after watching my nephew Matt persevere through years of hard work and pain to now finally take that spot to State that he has earned. The example of humility that he sets, congratulating other competitors and teammates, and stopping to take a picture with an admiring little cousin of his own in my daughter. (I was dead serious today when I said this might be her in 14 years.)
And, when I hear my daughter explain to me that when she raced (a kids mile fun run at our Conference meet)…
“I never quit, Mommy. I never stopped. I never gave up.”
Lots of full circles.
THAT’S why I love Cross Country. For whatever reason, all roads lead me back to the sport that has taught me the most about life. And it’s my hope, that I can pass that on…that I can plant that seed…
Like my Daddy always told me…
“Megan, Just Run.”
Happy State Bound Cross Country Running!