Going the distance

By Emily Fleming

In “Forrest Gump” the title character sets out to run across the United States. When he is asked why he is running and he responds casually “I just felt like running.” When I watch this scene of the movie I totally get it. It resonates with me. I am a runner. A friend encouraged me to join the cross country team in the seventh grade. I couldn’t even finish a mile at my first practice. The thing about running is that if you just keep at it you almost always improve. By the end of my seventh grade year I could finish a mile in 6 minutes and 40 seconds.

When I was a freshman, there was no question about whether or not I would join the SHS Cross Country Team. I was ready to go. Running was something that I looked forward to every day. By the time I was a sophomore I was in the top 28 runners at Districts and I qualified for Regionals. I was able to return to the Regional race both my junior and senior year. My senior year I won the MVL race and was ranked top runner in the league. I broke my own record at this race with my fastest time of 19 minutes and 23 seconds. High school cross country races are 3.1 miles. While the races have been exciting, I know I have benefited more from running practice. Running has taught me how to manage stress, appreciate the beauty around me, and given me a purpose.

When I am running I don’t have to think about anything else. No homework, no social media, no work- just running. It is just one foot in front of the other. I know many people despise running, but for me running is a good stress reliever. When I am feeling anxious, I go for a run and my anxiety goes away. At the end of a run there is a phenomenon called a “runner’s high.” All of the endorphins kick in and my stress goes away. Running opens up the world to me, and shows me a new perspective. Before, I would not appreciate how beautiful the world actually is, but once I started running I could see it. In September and October when I am outside running I notice the beauty of all of the leaves changing colors and the butterflies moving about. In summer months I love to see all of the flowers blooming and run through the sprinklers that people leave on to water their lawns. When it is really hot out and the sunlight hits the water from the sprinklers just right, you can see the colors of the rainbow.

Running also helped me find my purpose in life – to continue at the collegiate level. Before running, I never thought I had a chance at succeeding at a sport, but now I know I am very capable of succeeding. I had amazing teammates and a coach that pushed me to continue because I had the potential to be an amazing runner. I listened to them and persevered through the weeks of conditioning to get me prepared for every race of my career. Running opened many opportunities for me I never thought would be possible, and now I sit back and see all that I have accomplished, and realize running was the best thing that could have happened to me. Running has helped me find the strength to overcome challenges I may be faced with. It has taught me that I am stronger than I think I am. It has also taught me that I am capable of doing hard things- even when my mind is telling me I can not keep going. Running has taught me that going the distance is about a lot more than a cross country race. It is a way of life. One foot in front of the other, no matter what the course looks like, all the way to the finish.

Emily Fleming is a senior at Sidney High School. She is the daughter of Travis and Tracie Fleming. She signed with Indiana University East to run cross country and track. She plans to study nursing with a goal of becoming either an RN or a physician’s assistant. She plans to spend her summer with her family and dogs, Brownie and Peanut. She wants to make as many making memories as she can before heading off to Indiana to continue schooling.