I was recently brought down memory (or dragged) by digging up an old high school photo from Cross Country. The photo, the caption, and the extra caption, pretty much says it all. While I'd love to delve into more of these trips to the old days, I'm pressed for time. So instead of tons of stories, I'll just bore you with this one.
In my sophomore year of high school (circa 1991-1992), I joined the cross country team. I left the soccer team hating the sport, the coach, and the lack of team spirit I wanted. There was team spirit, but not for a bench warmer like me. So I headed to the cross country team. It was the first time I felt normal being weird. In fact, it was almost a requirement to be weird to be on the team. I've heard it many times from many people that they've had a similar experience.
On top of feeling welcome, there was an odd personal-to-group symbiosis. So while I had to run each race as fast as I could and do my best as an individual, our team would win or lose based on those individual scores. It's something that makes the sport unique. Beating a teammate to the finish line helps the team just as much as beating somebody from another team. I liked that. I could do my best to help the team but at the same time I could do my best to put myself on the podium (not that I ever did).
And then there was the therapy of running. This is what would seal the deal and eventually bring me back to the sport. I never really knew it at the time but running helped me deal with all of life's shit. I know that now but back then it was a jaunt through the trees with my own thoughts or chatting with friends. I didn't quite grasp how important it was to my mental health.
In the end, I stayed on the team through my senior year. I should have tried out for my college team but gave it up to pursue other activities, like computer games and girls. Out of all the crap I dealt with in high school, my time running our home course is among my favorite and most memorable. So despite the look on my face in this picture, I really did love it.