Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Emily Vigil: Why I Run [#NGWSD]

When I first began distance running (after bouts of sprinting in high school and middle distance in college) I remember coming home from one of my longest runs at the time to a ringing phone. One of my college journalism buddies wanted to get together. I said I had to shower first, because I'd just run eight miles. There was a pause, then his smart-aleck comment, "Wouldn't it have been faster to drive?"

As runners, we've probably all had to endure a certain number of odd looks, rude comments or strange questions. But I wonder how many of us could answer those critics as eloquently as my guest blogger today.

Sixteen year old Emily Vigil is a sophomore at Academy of Holy Angels in the Twin Cities. She's been running competitively since middle school. Emily began competing at the high school level when she was in 8th grade at Annunciation school.

Her progress was quick and notable –
Personal bests (so far!):
4K (cross country)   15:23
2-mile                        12:45
1-mile                          5:58
800m                           2:39
400m                           1:09

Emily enjoys the camaraderie of running for a team (favorite memories include having fun with friends on rainy practice days and once running when it was completely dark outside.)

But it's also clear she enjoys the competitive side – qualifying for the MN state cross country meet as a 9th grader and breaking 2:40 in the 800 are just a few of her highlights.

Emily hopes to race on a college team and has long-term goals of winning an Olympic gold medal in the 5,000 or 10,000. And she might try a marathon one day.

Lofty goals, indeed... and you'd be crazy to count her out. As a special treat for National Girls and Women in Sports Day, here's Emily's story, in her own words:

Everyone Asks Why I Run: Here's my Answer

None of my friends understand why I like to run. They don't get why I look forward to running five miles every day, no matter what Mother Nature has to throw at me. They don't understand how I enjoy hard cross country practices, consisting of repeat 800's, sprints or eight-mile long runs. They don't know why I keep wanting to race despite how nervous I get beforehand.

My best friend has told me countless times that I'm crazy to want to keep running after back-to-back ankle injuries. And I have to admit, sometimes I find myself questioning my sanity as I'm lacing up my shoes to run five miles when it's below freezing or 90 degrees and humid. But running is so much more than the rarely ideal weather and the unending long runs. It's more than sucking wind during hard workouts, more than coming back from injuries, more than the indescribable pre-race nerves.

Running is something to look forward to at the end of every day. It's something constant; no matter how bad my day was, I can look forward to letting off steam with a run. Running is an excuse to get away, to work out my problems or forget about them altogether.

Those endless long runs and grueling hard workouts become worth it when you pass someone in a race with 400 meters to go, knowing that you worked that much harder than them the week before. It's the satisfaction of finishing a long run or hard workout and being better off for it. It's your teammates cheering for you at the finish line, telling you that you have less than a quarter-mile until you qualify for the state meet. It's something to be proud of; you get definite bragging rights for running eight miles in the rain.

Running definitely has it's pros and cons. I'm not going to saw that hard workouts and long runs are fun all the time; sometimes, they just suck. I'm not going to say that coming back from injuries is easy, because it isn't. And I'm definitely not saying that to be a runner, you don't have to be a certain level of insane.

But I will say that the good things outnumber the bad. That satisfaction of finishing a race with your best time makes up for the bad weather ten times over. The freedom you feel when you're running, the relief from stress, worries, and other problems makes the hard workouts worth it.

And for those of you who still think that I'm crazy for being a runner, think again; you might be even crazier for not being a runner.

– Emily Vigil