Joining a new sport as a senior


Patricia Wei, Web Director

On Feb. 26, I winced as I heard the loud sound of the starting pistol mark the beginning of my race. I kept up for the first 10 seconds, but I found myself falling behind. One lap in, my shoelace became untied. My chest was pounding; it was difficult to breathe, and I pushed myself to keep up. I suddenly thought of how funny it was that I was even here in the first place, running in a track meet for the first time as a second semester senior. That thought made me smile as I sprinted to the finish line. I finished in last place, almost a minute slower than the first-place finisher in the 800 meter race. Yet, I couldn’t be happier.

Before entering my senior year, I never thought I would take on running, much less join the track team.

On Jan. 4, I stood flabbergasted at my first pre-season track workout when the distance coach, Jake White, told us to run a warm-up of three miles. Three miles? To me, that seemed like a whole workout, not a warm-up.

I ran with a group of kind, welcoming underclassmen, who saw an unfamiliar face and asked me, “Are you a freshman?”

“No, I’m a senior,” I told them, and went into the long story of how I started running.

My journey began in September as a fun activity between me and my boyfriend, Richard, a cross country runner and track athlete. He made a spreadsheet that outlined workouts for five days a week for the next three months, and I did my best to follow them.

Sometimes, I’d run while listening to music and podcasts. Other times, I’d run and just feel the breeze blow past me, watching the sun set. Running compelled me to stay at school later; I got to see my classmates excelling on the field as they marched for band and practiced football and soccer. I realized that I won’t be at Lynbrook for much longer, and I wanted to spend more time on campus, soaking in every chance to make more memories.

Working out was the one thing I did for myself. With school, there was the pressure of performing well. With the extracurricular activities that I loved, there were still expectations to meet and the pressure of not wanting to let anyone down. With running, I had no strings attached. I pushed myself because I wanted to, and I also knew I could quit any time I wanted to. Doing something solely for myself felt liberating.

Running became my refuge for bad days when I dealt with the various emotional stresses that come with being a teenager and a senior applying to college. Running did not make my problems go away, but after working out, I felt strong and capable. Working out gave me the energy and confidence to believe I was strong enough to tackle the challenges that came my way. I knew that after a workout, at the end of the day, I could have at least one thing to be proud of.

Once Richard’s three-month workout plan for me ended, I decided to keep running and working out, but I was hesitant to join the track team. I went to practices and told myself, “If it’s not for you, you can always stop.” Eventually, I grew close with my running buddies, who I ran five to seven miles with every day. When I struggled to balance schoolwork and my other responsibilities with track and considered quitting, thinking of my positive interactions with them encouraged me to stay.

On March 26, I competed in my last meet, my senior meet. I never thought I’d experience a senior meet myself, after I had quit the tennis team my junior year when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. Yet, here I was. As I ran around the track for the 800 meter race, I heard my teammates and my physics teacher, Mr. Taylor, cheer me on. I still finished last as expected, but I ended with a personal record — my fastest time yet.

On my first day of high school, my advisory teacher Mr. Alderete told my class, “Try something new.” More than three years later, those three words ran through my mind as I joined a new sport as a senior. Try something new.

Trying something new in my senior year led to meaningful friendships with people I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Trying something new showed me that I had the capability to do something I never thought I could do before, running miles that had once seemed impossible to me.

I was one of the slowest runners on the team, but joining track was never about the numbers. It was about having fun and making the most out of my high school experience. Trying a new way to challenge myself. Appreciating the impact people have had on me. Finding a way to be healthy, both physically and mentally. It was about doing something for myself.