This I Believe

Ashley - Oakwood, Illinois
Entered on September 19, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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“If you say you can you will, if you say you can’t you won’t,” my dad’s advice has always been. I have lived by this quote for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was a little kid I have loved to run. Since my grandfather was a track coach, and my mother competed in track, I got involved in running early. They would time me as I ran laps around the house, always trying to beat my fastest time. I even brought home my first victory at the age of five from a local indoor track meet. Throughout grade school and middle school I competed in track and cross country, with my parents and grandparents never missing a race. I trained hard and brought home a seventh place finish from the IESA state meet in the 1600 meter run in eight grade.

As high school approached, I knew it was time to get serious. During the fall of my freshman year, cross country season was in full swing when my grandfather went to the doctor for a cough. The tests revealed my grandpa had two clogged arteries, and he was scheduled for open heart surgery. The news was shattering because of the seriousness of surgery. He had never missed one of my meets. It was not, however, just any meet. It was Sectionals, which would determine whether or not I competed at state. When race day came, I focused on the race, trying to make it to State so my grandpa could see me run. As the race began, I didn’t feel quite right. My left hip was a little stiff, a feeling I had not felt before, but I tried to shake it off, I started the race.

As I continued to run, the pain became increasingly worse, but I gutted out the race, I finished fifth, which qualified me for state. Although I had made it to state, the stiffness in my hip was diagnosed as a stretched itibotial band and a strained groin. Running at State would be nearly unbearable. As for my grandpa, he was still hospitalized and would not be able to watch me run at state. I was heartbroken, but I knew he needed to get better. As I talked to him in the hospital the day before the meet, he said to me, “Do your best that is all we can ask for; I will be proud of you no matter what.”

Even though I was injured, I ran to the best of my ability finishing 200th. This was quite disappointing to me, but I wasn’t going to let it hold me back from my goals of being an All-State athlete.

A few weeks later after having three triple bypass surgeries my grandfather passed leaving me with a lifetime of memories. My grandfather taught me a life lesson I will never forget, to never give up on my dreams and what I want. I ran on an injured hip, because I wanted my grandfather to be proud of me.

A few months later I achieved my goal of becoming an All-State athlete by placing seventh in the 800 meter run at the IHSA state finals. I give most of the credit to my grandfather. Even though he wasn’t at my race, I know he was with me in spirit and was proud of my effort. I told myself I could, and I did.