At the time of my first 5K run, I was living in Nashville. I was 11 years old, and Mom and I traveled to Huntington, West Virginia to run a road race with Graham (at that time, her boyfriend). I can’t say that I did my best…but I can say that it was an experience like no other. (Mom will interject here that Sam ran the best he could at that time…with no training and no prior running experience at that distance.)
Running in places that aren’t familiar can be scary or overwhelming, but I find excitement in seeing new surroundings and feeling new earth under foot.
Most recently, my racing travels have brought me to Charlotte, North Carolina for the Footlocker South Cross Country Championships, which is scheduled annually on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. Since my freshman year of high school, my friend Chandler and I have gone down to Charlotte to race a 5K with hundreds of other high school athletes. While the primary focus of the meet is on high school racing, there are 18 races in all for people of any age.
Over the past three years, we have left home early on Thanksgiving Friday morning to drive down in Charlotte to pick up our entry packets, travel to and run the course for a warm-up, and then partake in the evening festivities at the host hotel.
While I have found a safe haven of a race in the Footlocker Championships, I am always looking for new places to run. This winter, I am participating in the Charleston Winter Series in Charleston, West Virginia. I have never raced in Charleston and the series is sure to be an exciting experience.
Next November, along with the Footlocker Championships, I hope to travel with friends to Gaithersburg, Maryland to run in the Border War, a race to see which state (Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C.) has the best runners.
Other races that intrigue me and I hope to participate someday are the Music City Marathon and Half Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee, as well as the Flying Pig Marathon and Half Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio. Both of races take place in April.
I will always be on the lookout for my next opportunity to race in unfamiliar territory because the experience of being in a new place will always be exciting to me. I hope the same for you, too.