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Daniel's Miles of Smiles Posted on February 25, 2014

I ran.  Given my circumstances, running was my only athletic option.  I was always just a scrawny kid.  But I joined cross country my freshman year when everything was different for me and people seemed further apart.  I had no idea what I was getting into!  I was amazingly average so I ran a 20:10 PR in the 5k my first year.  But I looked up to our varsity team and wanted to be where they were so badly.  So I kept running.  I ran through XC season, I ran in the winter, I ran during track, and I ran all summer.  I ran so much that I began to get the hang of it despite my athletic shortcomings.  I was surprised to see my personal record from freshman year cross country drop by almost two minutes, and I was firmly set in our varsity team.  And then I kept running.  Then, junior year taught me what pain really was.  My personal and family problems made my running a chore.  I couldn’t run up to my ability because my mind was blocking my path and that physically hurt me.  

One day during the middle of my junior year cross country season our coach had us run 400 repeats with a jogging rest.  It began to rain before us higher mileage runners on the team finished.  We ran through the piercing wind and rain on the track.  After the workout my coach took me aside and told me to run to the middle school down the road.  I obliged and met him on the soccer field.  I looked pitiful.  My legs were covered in mud and my clothes were soaked.  He looked at me and told me to do the entire workout again on the muddy soccer field.  So I ran the workout again.  And the rain didn’t stop.  The rest of the guys on varsity were watching me run around and around and I felt like an idiot.  But I made sure that every single repeat hurt and I prayed to god that the next would hurt more.  When I finished I walked up to my coach, he asked me if I thought I was done and I said no.  He decided to give me a tempo run after the double workout, and he decided to run it with me.  We started at tempo pace, just under six minute mile pace.  The more I ran the better I felt.  Before long we were racing through the streets with our feet slapping the water on the ground.  I felt like I could do anything when before I felt powerless.  I ran 14 miles at varying workout paces that afternoon and I was so happy I could’ve cried.  That day was something to hold on to whenever I felt like I had nothing.  The next week I ran my 5k PR: a personal success of 17:15.  I’ll remember that day more than any of my personal records, any medals, any triumphant wins or painful losses, and I’ll be able to smile.


*Daniel is a freelance blogger for the More Miles More Smiles team!*


by Mark Spewak

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