As a kid I played any sport that didn’t make me wear a skirt as part of the uniform. I hated skirts when I was younger, mostly because I thought they were ugly and I couldn’t run around in them easily without flashing the world. For my third grade school picture, my mom made me wear a skort – not even a real skirt, a fake one – and I feel like to this day I was traumatized by those eight hours.
So apart from field hockey and lacrosse I dabbled in everything. Baseball, softball, soccer, futsol, indoor league, hockey, basketball, tennis, swimming, skiing, sailing, the list goes on. I excelled really only in soccer and basketball, which I carried through to middle school and high school – mostly.
Seventh grade dealt me a horrific accident where I sprained my ankle trying to avoid a dead squirrel that appeared out of nowhere in my trick-or-treating path. As nothing motivates kids like candy, I decided to keep walking on it for the rest of the evening. By the time I got home and sat down in my pink power ranger costume to ice it, my ankle was literally green. Unfortunately for me basketball tryouts were the following evening.
By the time I got to high school I was totally specializing in soccer. I was on four teams including the school team, my club team, a futsol team, and indoor team that played on what resembles turf on a hockey rink. I was captain of a couple of them and I could play practically any position apart from goaltender. Looking back now I have two observations; 1. Damn I was killing it and 2. My soccer career peaked here.
Due to a few jaw surgeries that I had to have in the beginning of freshman year, I was out of athletics for 6 months. When I returned to playing, things were just so different. My teammates had gotten better and I had gotten much worse and I couldn’t keep up. I was weak and slow and my foot skills were comparable to an octopus on rollerskates. No matter how much extra I practiced or trained, I was out of it. I continued to play—or in actuality sit on the bench—for two more years, very frustrated and very unsuccessful.
I quit soccer senior year to move forward. I knew I had the capacity to be a great athlete, but I was out of my zone, and had been for quite some time. I started outletting my frustration with soccer into miles on the trails. In fact I started outletting any stress or anger that I felt into mileage. I started to time myself and take it more seriously. I joined cross-country and supplemented those workouts with long weekend runs.
One day that fall something had really pissed me off. I left to go run it out and I came back 3 hours later. I ran 20 miles. Three weeks later I got to run the Cape Cod marathon and for a course almost entirely hilly, I really enjoyed it. I’ve been racking up miles ever since and though I still kick a ball around leisurely, distance training is now my main squeeze. As cross-country put it best, “we do it long, hard, and in the woods.”