Dear Running: Thank You For Never Giving Up On Me!

(Anna Duesenberg is a sophomore at Saint Joseph Academy, who competes in cross country, distance track and team relay events)  

"Thank you for giving the world something to do when life is on hold. And, thank you for never giving up on me and shaping me into the person I am today."

By Anna Duesenberg - Saint Joseph Academy

Dear Running,

Just 6 months ago I was sure that I was done with you. I hated you. A lot.  

Just 6 months ago I thought I couldn't live one more day with you. I was hoping for a breakthrough xc season. Instead, the exact opposite happened.

I probably was in the best shape of my life. I loved you in practice. I ran every workout thankful that you and I had a good thing going.  But, racing was a different story. I hated you on race days. We were always fighting from the moment the gun blew to the moment I crossed the finish line.  I'm not 100% sure why we fought during those races. My body just wouldn't do what I wanted it to do. This fight between us caused me to fall way behind my teammates every time I raced.  I was a mess. Races left me in tears, sick of the fight between us. All I wanted was for you to get out of my life. I pretended that we were fine, but deep down inside I knew we weren't.  Then, I started hating you in practice as well, as the internal fight got stronger and stronger. 

At this point, I wasn't sure we were meant for each other. You almost caused me to say I'm done with you forever. I was ready to put away the spikes for good. 

But your little voice kept telling me, "don't give up on me yet." So, I didn't and decided to push through our sadness and run indoor track.  

Running, thank you for convincing me to keep racing. Thank you for never giving up on me, even when I was ready to give up on you.  

You showed me this past indoor season that things can change. Nothing ever stays the same. With you, I went from thinking I would never run another step to running in the open 800 and the 4x800 at state with some of the best teammates I could ever ask for.  Our relay struggled to pull together at the beginning of the season. This was the year we had high expectations. And then your little voice was heard again saying, "don't give up on me yet." You encouraged me to train even harder when all I wanted to do was stop, cheer on my teammates even louder when they were struggling, and race even stronger when I was afraid.  Deep down inside, I was still afraid of the fight that we had in cross country races. I didn't know if our fights would return. If we ended up fighting in track, I wouldn't make it. I'm going to be honest with you, I didn't have much confidence with you going into the state meet.  

But, you reminded me that day why I love you. I'd never felt so relaxed while racing. I was so thankful and happy that I had you in my life.  I'd never experienced that before. At the end of our 4x800 when I crossed the finish line, I looked up at the clock, saw a NB Nationals qualifying time, and almost fell to the ground in pure relief and exhaustion, but instead I fell into the arms of my teammates.  As I hugged them, the bond between us became stronger than ever. As we stood on the podium, giddy with excitement, your little voice was heard again saying, "I told you not to give up. Do you love me now?" Yes. All I could answer was yes. I loved you more than anything.  

And then it was gone.

When NB Nationals was canceled because of the coronavirus, I was devastated, but I picked myself up and forced myself to look ahead towards outdoor track.  

But then outdoor was postponed. How could this happen? You and I were finally getting back to a better relationship.  I loved you and I was once again excited to race. Gone, gone in a split second. This was going to be my last season with the seniors on my team who had helped me become the runner I am.  Gone.

I knew I had to keep training. No one knew how this unexpected coronavirus situation would play out.  But, how? How could I keep our relationship going? How could I stay motivated and hopeful?  Although it's taken some time to figure that out, I've found that I keep going for others. For my teammates who have trained day in and day out.  For the seniors, both on my team and teams elsewhere. For the girls on my relay team, including two seniors, who never give up. For the athletes who were looking for a breakthrough season.  For those whose lives have been overturned by the virus in unimaginable ways. 

Although we are all living on the edge hoping and praying that the season isn't canceled, you have allowed me to take a step back and realize why I run.  

You have brought people into my life who have blessed me from day one. You have given me teammates who have picked me up when I was falling, both figuratively and literally.  You have given me coaches who have encouraged me when I needed it the most. You have shown me that there is always more strength inside of me than I realize.  You have shown me that things do change and to never lose hope. 

Even when the world is on hold, you have provided people, ages 4 to 104, an outlet for the stress of this uncertain time. You are more than a time in a race, a repeat in a workout, or the hours spent in the weight room. You are a lifestyle, a way for people to release stress and find joy in everyday life.  And, hopefully, through this unexpected adversity in the world, more people will be introduced to you and know that you truly can change lives.  

Thank you for giving the world something to do when life is on hold. And, thank you for never giving up on me and shaping me into the person I am today. 

Hopefully we'll race again together soon,

Anna, Saint Joseph Academy '22

Read More ~