Roosevelt Runners: Batavieren Race

In October 2016, I had approached Emma, a girl I didn’t really know, if she wanted to start a running team with me. For a while it was just two nineteen-year-olds, getting to know each other through our mutual love, and the occasional supportive friend or random person who showed up to our practices.

 

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Fast forward a year and a half later, and you wouldn’t think I’m talking about the same team. Together, we’ve managed to acquire uniforms, a logo, sweaters, race sponsorship, host our own race, and connect with other running crews and unis in NL and in Europe. But most importantly, we’ve grown. We’ve grown from distant classmates (she always reminds me we had Dutch together even though I don’t remember it) to best friends. I can count on her for anything. And as our friendship has grown, so has the Roosevelt Runners.

The 46th annual Batavieren Race is a 175km (109mi) long relay that begins in Nijmegen, passes through Germany, and eventually finishes in Enschede. Schools from across Europe compete, and we were 1 of 360 teams present. The team comprises of 25 students and faculty, running for roughly 15 hours nonstop, and begins at midnight. We spent the entire night hoping to not get disqualified from our confusion of where to be and when, but eventually got the hang of it. We pulled through at 169 out of 360!

 

What they don’t tell you about the race, is the mix of shared misery and triumph that accompanies it. We were sleeping in cars and vans the first night, waking up early the next morning, and then zombie running in the afternoon. Running on no sleep, driving on no sleep, and organizing ourselves on no sleep was the real obstacle to beat. A 10k at 3am was the least of our problems. You know you’ve got something special when you collectively wake up and grouchily stare at each other, grumble, but then hustle because you’ve got work to do.

Our team energy was incredible, and the beauty of our group reflects the beauty of our university: a quirky hodgepodge of personalities so different, but inexplicably forms the best combination. There were many teams where the people all looked and acted the same. Then you look at the personalities in ours, and we have everything. Our squad included the overly stressed mother hen, the bizarre stoner, the fluid yogi, and the sporty hotshot, to name a few.

Words cannot describe how much fun it was meeting old friends, running with new ones, and almost getting lost in the middle of nowhere with 22 other humans crowding your personal space. Not to mention throwing down some solid PRs, and watching your teammates’ jaws drop when they see their results.

This is exactly what I live for. The teamwork, the chemistry, the determination, the journey through it all, and the view from the top of the mountain.

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Runderground: Middelburg, The Netherlands

When I was about eight, I remember I really hated it when people copied me. I felt like they were stealing my ideas. I also remember I was a hypocrite even as a child, because there was this girl at my aunt’s church, Kristin, that I thought was perfect and had the perfect life. She was about four years older than me, and I wanted to be just like her.

She was also a runner.

But one summer day, while Kristin and I were hanging out in the downstairs part of my aunt’s church, she made me rethink my view of copying. She said that copying is the highest form of a compliment, because it means people like what you do so much, they wanted to do it to.

So here’s to you Runderground: I want to copy your run we did last Tuesday, and have the Roosevelt Runners do something similar.

Running, I daresay, can become a bit boring and redundant if you don’t keep things interesting. And Runderground definitely knew how to keep things interesting. Last Tuesday we ran about 12km, according to Martijn. But there was a twist or two that I wasn’t expecting. About fifteen minutes into our run, he stopped us, and said we were going to run this straight away as fast as you can. It was just 1km, about four minutes and thirty seconds of running hard, but I was scared, succumbed to fear, and didn’t go all out. After the 1km was finished, we kept running, at the same tempo as before, which I thought was a steady 12km pace (about 7.5 miles). While I was a bit upset that I didn’t go all out, I was glad I went with my gut, how was I supposed to keep this tempo, especially if I didn’t know what else this trickster had up his sleeve? Maybe seven minutes later, we reached the bike path to Vlissingen where there were some concrete steps, and that was when he said we were going to hop up each one, then sprint down the ramp, and do it again. I died a little inside. I hadn’t been challenged like this since my King days, and grudgingly dug in. I was so glad I did. Because at the end of that 12km and those surprise intervals, I felt like an assassin. Like I could outrun anything and kill it in one swift blow. I killed that run, what’s next?

In the wise words of James Bond, I like my runs like I like my martinis: shaken, not stirred.

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https://www.facebook.com/RUNDERGROUNDzld/?ref=br_rs

King Wolves: Riverside, California

It’s 6am on a Monday morning in June, and the year is 2011. I’m barely 14 years old, and am sitting on blacktop in the parking lot of my soon to be new school Martin Luther King High School. I’m nervous, intimidated, unsure, and half asleep. The head coach, Coach Peters, is giving his first ‘inspirational talk’, the first of many to come.

IMG_0135There are two things that I remember from what he said that day. The first was that his inspirational talk included an umbrella, and a relevant story that went with it. I think it was about not giving up. The second was that he said we might marry someone sitting with us on that blacktop. I simultaneously looked around me and avoided eye contact.

While I am still friends with a few of those teammates, I don’t intend to marry them. But I think what Coach Peters had to say that day meant something more. He meant that we were entering into a special community of people, starting right there, with our fellow Wolves.

 

And he was right.

What I value most about my high school running days, were the life lessons that that team taught me. It also taught me I could connect everything back to running, which is one of the main reasons why I’ve stuck with it for so long. So here are the three most important lessons I learned, and what my running practice is founded on, based on my experience as a Wolf.

  1. Determination: From waking up early, to finishing a 10 mile run (16km), to running even when it’s too cold/hot/windy/dark, determination is everything. Giving up is easy, but getting over that hill, or running through that wind, will make me feel so much better about myself! I’ve been able to take these experiences and apply them to other parts of my life. When I’m going after that job, finishing that paper, or moving to a foreign land and wondering if I’ll survive.
  2. Spirituality: By God’s grace do I have the ability to run, and sometimes, I forget that not everybody has two working legs and lungs that allow them to do it. The human body can withstand so much, it’s incredible. Enduring a tough run puts me face to face with my Creator, and triumphing over one makes me realize we did it together. All things are possible through Him, and running has shown me that.
  3. Accountability: There’s something special about that person who shows up when they say they will, no matter what. And I’ve noticed that most of my running friends possess this trait. Running has taught me to follow through even when the going gets tough, because I said I would. Honoring one’s commitments isn’t always easy, but it shows respect to others, and to myself.

King set the precedence of the importance of a strong community and mentality, and that is what continues to shape me.

www.kingcrosscountry.com

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Brussels, Belgium

Happy New Year! I spent this New Year’s in Brussels with my housemate, Maggie. We, the housemates collectively, her boyfriend Stan, and his friends, went to a party hosted by Maggie’s friends, who all happen to be Italian. Who would have thought that I would be ringing in the new year in a fancy mansion in uptown Brussels, surrounded by random Italians? Side note: all of the food was a different variation of pasta or lasagna. And there was lots of it.

Like most January 1st mornings, ours was slow. In fact, ours didn’t officially start until the afternoon. I had been awake for a few hours, and was getting a bit restless, and ready to go back to Middelburg. While we were all sitting around wondering if we should wake the others up, I had it in my mind to start the new year off with a run.

http://www.citycookie.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/chalet-robinson-bruxelles.jpg“Does anyone want to go on a run with me?” I asked. None of my housemates run, so this question was meant to be rhetorical, ironic, and slightly annoying. What crazy wants to run after a night out? What crazy wants to run in general?

“I’ll run with you” someone answered. I was shocked. Raised eyebrows, I turned around, and looked at the voice of the owner: Simon. Simon is one of Stan’s friends, and I knew next to nothing about him.

“Wait are you serious?” It took me a few more confirming questions to realize he wasn’t joking. I was so excited! I hadn’t expected anyone in this group to actually be into running, and I was excited to run through Brussels.

All of a sudden Stan walks into the room, “Wait, are you guys going on a run? I’m coming too!” I had known Stan had recently gotten into running, but he was doing a routine that required shorter runs and faster paces. But I figured I had new shoes to break in, and I didn’t feel like going longer than 30 minutes anyways. I was also excited to have two running buddies.

Stan led us to Bois de la Cambre Image result for map of bois de la cambrePark, and it was beautiful! I had only seen the major touristy areas of Brussels the last few times I had been, one of which included visiting Maggie last summer. I was also surprised by the amount of hills that were there. Brussels is not far from where I live in the Netherlands, and I expected it to be just as flat as the rest of the Dutch country.

Coming back from our run, Simon and I were talking, and he brought up the Batavieren Race coming up this April. Emma and I have been working on training the Roosevelt Runners for that relay, and I was thrilled to know that he was excited about it, seeing as I had never heard about it until a few months ago. Suddenly it went from hardly knowing anything about Simon, to feeling like we were friends, just because of our shared love for the sport. Now maybe this is too large of an assumption to make, but most of the runners I’ve met have been pretty good people. Runners in general are just likeable, easy to get along with, and are typically pretty nice. A new friend to add to my list of people who like to run, new shoes, and a new park to kick off the new year. Hello 2018!