If I can, you can

Maddie Serbousek, Opinion Writer

When I tell people I am a runner, most of them give me a look of confusion and ask why. And if I’m being completely honest, I am only a runner because of my very persistent friends, Lizzy Schmitt and Avery Arens. Other than that, I honestly don’t know why I joined cross country in the first place. But I don’t regret it. 

This is my first year doing cross country and I can honestly say I am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy it, even though I am not particularly fond of long distance running. However, I will admit I have a newfound love of cross country. One of the best parts about cross country is how encouraging everyone is, whether or not you’re on the same team, because we’re all struggling together.

Avery Arens, Hope Schulte and Maddie Serbousek after competing in a cross country meet on September 19, 2019 in Cedar Falls. Sherry Schulte Photo.

A few weeks ago, in September, both the girls’ and boys’ cross country teams traveled to Cedar Falls for a meet. The girls’ varsity team ran first, then boys’ varsity ran next, and finally, it was my race, girls’ JV, so my anxiety had plenty of time to build up. My heart was racing and I wanted to collapse into a ball and cry, I was so nervous. There were so many people running in the race. Though it wasn’t my first race, I was just as nervous. The gun was fired and we all began to stampede away from the start line and onto the course. Soon enough the crowd began to thin out and I found myself running with a sweet girl named Maria, a foreign exchange student from Spain. Neither of us had done cross country before and we both wanted to be done with the wretched race. Then I turned around for a second, afraid I had lost my running buddy at one point in the race, and I found her stumbling with tears in her eyes. I slowed my pace and waited for her to catch up then held out my wrist to her which read “I CAN” in black marker and I said to her, “If I can, you can.” We continued to encourage each other throughout the race, doing our best to prevent the other from walking. After what felt like forever, we finally reached the last 200 meters and we sprinted to the finish line. I was so happy to have finished the race and I was so proud of myself and Maria. We hugged and I told her I was proud of her for finishing the race, no matter how badly she wanted to quit. 

Running cross country may seem daunting, and it is extremely nerve wracking, but the feeling of finishing the race makes up for it in the end. All your hard work and training pays off; and as someone who doesn’t like running, I can promise you cross country is a mental sport and a team sport . If you tell yourself you’re going to fail or you’re tired and your legs hurt, you aren’t going to do as well as when you tell yourself to just keep going. Remind yourself you’re almost finished or even sing a song in your head. It’s all about keeping a positive mentality and if I can, you can.