My first day at Carnegie Mellon, a hot August morning, was my first day of cross country. Ever.
My high school was too small to have a team, but I ran track and I figured I could do it. My freshman cross country season started with a bang, but fizzled out due to injury. Despite spending time in crutches and then a walking boot, I was hooked.
Running every day with my team became such a definitive part of my CMU experience that going out for a seven or eight mile run on Pittsburgh hills in all kinds of weather was something I looked forward to every day. Many of my best friendships have been forged from time spent together as a result of cross country, and being a part of a team stabilized my otherwise hectic and turbulent life at Carnegie Mellon.
Without a high school cross country experience, I didn’t realize how much teamwork the sport involved. As a group, we pushed each other to excel in practices, and guided each other through races. Finding your teammate in a race among the sea of hundreds of runners and running together bring a level of calmness and familiarity to a hectic, pressure-filled environment.
Many of my best races were run with a teammate at my side. The brief words exchanged between gasps for air made a world of difference, and were a powerful reminder that we were running for much more than individual recognition.
But the support of my teammates isn’t limited to the trails. The team is a huge support system whenever one of our own is dealing with problems in their academic, athletic, or personal lives. The simple act of going on a run with teammates when I was struggling with an issue could help relieve frustration, ease stress, and bring a smile to a weary face.
I’m so grateful to have found a community within CMU that I could consider my family away from home. I’ll miss the Gang when I’m gone.