The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The ups and downs of my journey as a runner

Chapter 1: The Beginning
Eban Slate
Me at the Apr. 19, 2023 home track meet vs. Lincoln. I like this picture because it represents my school pride as part of the track team and my spirit of running.

Everyone has a hobby or activity they do that fluctuates over time, in terms of both commitment and skill. One day, it may be easy and fun, and you feel complete bliss and control, but other times, it can feel hard to go on, hard to visualize the future. For me, that thing is running. I want to share my journey with running so I can give people an idea of the mental and physical stressors and joys the sport of running brings. 

My journey with running started with completing a requirement for the Personal Fitness Merit Badge for Scouts BSA, formerly known as Boy Scouts. It involved training for 12 weeks to improve in strength and running speed and endurance. Every two weeks would be a benchmark test. I began the 12 weeks in the spring of 2021. I was in alright fitness then because of playing ultimate frisbee. The first test day, I ran a mile in 11 minutes, 50 seconds, alternating between running and walking. I didn’t run much in the 12-week period outside of playing ultimate and the benchmark every other week, but I got my mile time down to eight minutes, 20 seconds after the 12 weeks. I was pretty happy with my time improvement, and looking back, I’m even more impressed with it now.

Over the couple of years after that, I didn’t run a whole lot. My mom is a runner, so I ran with her a few times to the local track, but most of my activity was playing ultimate. When I started high school, I began considering joining the track team. I was going to wait until sophomore year to join, but someone wise advised me that I might as well start now. 

I took their advice and set the date to go to my first practice: Jan. 10, 2023. It was the first day of the “preseason,” or optional winter training before the official track season started. At first, I just came on Tuesdays and Thursdays to do running workouts. It felt like not too much of a time commitment, but I could still feel my fitness improving. I started to feel more incorporated into the running community at school. It helped that two of my friends from elementary and middle school also joined the team. 

Once February came to a close, it was time for the official season to start. I upgraded my running shoes to a pair of Brooks Ghost, and I immediately felt a huge improvement in comfort. 

The regular season was similar to the preseason, but with a lot more people. I was going to practices three to four times a week. The best part was going on easy runs, which I called “free runs,” with my friends. We created a route that went down around the perimeter of the golf course and then up the 72nd Dr. hill. It became a routine, a time to unwind from the school day while hanging out with friends and getting exercise. The days I wasn’t doing those runs, we did track workouts, and those were usually pretty hard. They were the basis for the running grind mentality: wanting to quit at every moment while running, but feeling so good afterwards.

After over a month of practices, we had our first meet. It was a JV-only meet at the Marshall campus. I ran the 800m race with my friend Tory. After waiting over three hours through the other events, it finally came time to run. For most of the race, I was far in the back, but not in last place. I ran the first lap at about my personal record (PR) time for that distance. In the second lap, I started to realize why the 800 was such a hard event. I had to really push myself through the last 300 meters. With 100 meters left in the race, Tory began to pass me. I started to turn on the burners and sprinted towards the finish to try and beat him. In the end, he edged me out by a quarter second, but I was still quite happy because I didn’t get dead last, and I PR’ed by nine seconds. I also realized how much more I actually could’ve done in the race considering I was able to sprint at the end. To celebrate, I got burgers with my mom afterwards. 

I learned that day that personal achievement in the sport of track can come in many forms. I was never able to run the 800m faster than that the rest of the season, not helped by the fact that the runner closest to my pace, Tory, never raced again that season. 

There were three more meets in the season, two of them with our school hosting. I ran the 1500m race for the first time at the home meet against Lincoln. In the race, which was a bend-of-the-track short of a mile, I didn’t do quite as well as my previous meet. I was in dead-last for most of the race, and I had trouble pushing myself. This is when I really started feeling myself getting slower compared to earlier in the season. 

My biggest regret about the season was feeling that I was underperforming on workouts. The last workout practice of the season I went to, the team did 300 meter repeats, and I went out way too fast on the first rep for no reason, finishing with the top varsity runners. After that pacing blunder, I could barely continue through the workout. I ended up only running six of the ten reps I should have run. It was an eye-opening experience, and my coach was hard on me about it. I vowed to push myself harder, but also smarter, on workouts next season. 

The season ended in early May and I was able to enjoy the end of my freshman year without the stress of track. I had thought a little about running for the cross country team in the fall, but still wasn’t convinced running was for me after my experience with track. Overall, my freshman track season was marked by learning the ropes of discipline, recovery and the grind of running, both the pain and the wonderful feeling of relaxation after total physical exertion.

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About the Contributor
Eban Slate, Feature Editor
Eban Slate (he/him) is a sophomore who enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, running, playing piano and shooting photos. He joined The Oracle to write and photograph interesting stories for readers to be inspired by.

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