This I Believe

Mary Lauren - Cullman, Alabama
Entered on December 8, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: sports
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Thank You for Making Me Run

As I began my third lap around the huge playground my little red face dripped with sweat and my black Converses pounded the dust all around me, and now I am sure that the Alabama heat was magnified a hundred times by my ten year old mind. My elementary PE coach, Coach Bowlin, made all his classes run four laps (almost a mile) before we could enjoy a game of four square, soccer or chase. I didn’t like running those laps, but Coach Bowlin’s words kept me going, “Keep running! Pace yourself!” and then he added “One day you’ll thank me for this.” I silently disagreed.

Those laps continued to haunt me in fifth grade, and I hated them even more as my body awkwardly matured in the sixth grade. Finally, I moved onto middle school—never to run laps again.

I made the seventh grade basketball team, and do you know what my coach loved to do? She loved to blow her whistle and listen to screeching shoes as the team sprinted from sideline to sideline slapping every line in between. See, I loved basketball, but I didn’t want to do the running that came with it.

Christmas break rolled around and my coach made the dreaded assignment: “Girls, you need to run at least a mile everyday if not more.”

My mom marked a mile and a half course around our neighborhood. Layered in long-johns, sweats, windbreaker, and a toboggan I faithfully ran everyday.

Running provided me with time to think about my future, and at thirteen years old on Elizabeth Street I found the motivation to pursue my dreams.

By my junior year in high school I was running five miles a day, and became a standout basketball player. I ran to make certain I was the toughest player on the court. However, some days I still had to force myself out on the track, but I told myself, “One day you’ll thank me for this.”

The discipline running instilled in me went beyond the basketball court. Yes, I became a little nerd spending a good bit of time studying, and I can’t tell you the number of parties I skipped because I knew it’s not where I needed to be. It paid off.

I graduated third in my class, was elected the DARE Role-model, and received a full basketball scholarship to Wallace State Community College where I was named Distinguished Academic All-American. Now, I am playing Division II basketball at the University of North Alabama.

I began running competitively a couple of years ago during basketball’s off season. Once I’m done playing basketball I would like to run competitively year around; my goal is to run a half marathon. Running gave me every tool I needed to reach my goals and dreams. I only have one thing left to say, “Thank you, Coach Bowlin, for making me run.”