High School for the first few years was tough for me. As I mentioned in my last post, as a twin, and being small, it was a little tougher for us to get adjusted. Our sophomore year was really tough. There were a group of kids who liked to single us out, and they had the same lunch period as we did. We would get harassed all the time, they would throw food at us, and it did not matter what we otherwise tried to do, it did not change, until one day just before Thanksgiving. This particular day they were throwing food again, and I got hit in the head with an apple. I had taken enough! I had a banana, and stood up, and went over to the kid who threw the apple, and smashed into his hair, and then I threw the first punch. We managed to get several more hits in each before it was broken up, and long story short, we both got expelled for three days. But you know what…it all ended after that. No more harassment, no more food throwing…it ended! I like to think they realized I was not going to take it anymore, or maybe that first punch actually hurt…who knows. I did not care, it was done.
I was still trying to do some running on my own at that time, but still felt intimidated. I did not think I would be good enough. I think deep down I just did not have the confidence in myself to believe it. My Junior year went by, and nothing really changed. Then the Summer before my senior year, I did more running. I ran quite a few different 5k and 10k races, including the Diet Pepsi 10k race that changed my outlook. I finished right behind 5 other Washington High School Cross Country runners, and all of us were within 10 seconds of each other. I felt like I could actually compete. I decided after that I was going to go out for Cross Country no matter what, or regret my whole life not participating in sports in High School. I had a very good coach, Coach Dick Brook. He helped me believe in me! I owe a lot of this to him. He was bringing out the best in me, and it took me awhile to realize this. I remember him like it was yesterday. Whoever says coaches/teachers don’t make a difference doesn’t know what they are talking about. He had many motivating speeches and talks, and this definitely made an impression on me. I had a great senior year in Cross Country and Track…memories to last forever as well.
That running experience gave me lots of time to think, plan, socialize, make even more friends, and build confidence in me…confidence to believe in myself, and to stand up for myself. Later in Track that Senior year, this same kid who I had gotten in a fight with my Sophomore year, wanted to go out for track. I beat him so bad in the first race that he ended up quitting after that. I did not want him to quit…after all, I would have liked to have beat him many more times in races (ha!), but it was not meant to be!
When you are surrounded by crowds during a race, and pushing yourself to keep going, and to dig deeper than you ever thought you could, you feel like you can take on the world. I am running right behind the front runner in this picture. This was a JV race I was in, and following this race, I got moved onto the Varsity team. In Cross Country, when it came to deciding who was going to go to the State Meet, only the top 7 runners count for team scoring. You were allowed to take 2 alternates in case somebody got sick or hurt. I was the first alternate…this after only going out for the first time my Senior year. The year only got better as I learned so much about running, training, getting in shape, what it took to be involved, and many life lessons.
Coach Brook would always give us a pep talk before we lined up for each race. In this picture, I am right in the middle, at the front. Those speeches got you going, and made you believe in yourself. He always talked about “intestinal fortitude”–When the going gets tough, do you settle for something less than your best effort? Or can you endure some pain and discomfort and stay ahead of your nearest opponent? Just like life! Life always has big challenges. Are you going to keep pushing yourself, and just settle for ok? This coach had a huge influence on me…an influence I will never forget. Coach Brook had a speech framed on his wall of his office, and it was written by a Coach Ray Graham. Now, I don’t remember who Coach Graham was, but I remember my coach. This speech was the following:
“Cross Country is a sport which requires no specific physical endowments. Anyone can excel who has the desire to run, and the will power to keep running past the point when it seems the price is too much to pay for the rewards received. This athlete works hard, while realizing they will receive little praise, as Cross Country is not a glory sport. Their rewards are the few seconds they shave from their last effort, the spirit of competition, and the sense of accomplishment from hard work and a job well done. In learning to endure physical work beyond the point of discomfort of pain, the Cross Country athlete gains psychological advantage. They are better able to handle their mental processes in all aspects of their life. These are the lessons of a sport that will last a runner a lifetime!”
Perfect! Any runner knows this! To all my friends on our Watertown Area Run Club…you get what running does for you! You get what it takes to accomplish your goals, the work you have to put in to do it. The life lessons learned by this are countless! The influence coaches and teachers have on us growing up can either make us or break us. Coach Brook…I will remember you forever! Thank you! I have been running ever since, with no foreseeable end in sight! The “intestinal fortitude” lives on. The confidence and determination running taught allowed me to accomplish what I have done so far in my life! I firmly believe running helped me not only become a doctor, but become the kind of doctor I am!
Keep moving everybody…whether running, biking, walking…whatever…just keep moving!
Consecutive Exercise Day #: 3578