I come from a family of runners. I was created through running and because of running. My mother and father met at a high school cross country meet and from that point began dating, eventually tying the knot at the age of 21. Both of my parents ran at Mt. San Antonio College and my father later completed his running and academic career at South Dakota State University in Brookings, where both my older sister and I were born. After having differences in regards of where to raise us, my mother brought us back to California to escape the cold and begin a new life. This is where my story starts.

All my life I wanted to know my father. To me he was a hero-almost a god. My mom always spoke so highly of him and his running, especially his high school career where he competed for Arroyo High School in El Monte and was apart of the “Fab Four”, also known as the first team to win the Division 1 CIF State Cross Country Championships in 1987. I wanted to be just like him, I wanted to run. In Kindergarten I begged the principal to allow me to be on the cross country team, which was only for children in the first grade and above. She agreed under one circumstance-I was not allowed to walk. I kept my word, I’ve kept it to this day.

I didn’t always love running. In eighth grade I despised it. My family moved me to Corona del Mar in the middle of my 7th grade year to give me better running opportunities and I detested it. My first year was successful, I ran a 5:40 mile and was the middle school champion and record holder. The next year I quit… well in my head I did, for all my mom knew I was at practice from 3:30 PM until 5:30 PM when in reality I was eating Z Pizza and Bawls Soda at the shopping center down the street. Track season came around and I had to put on that flimsy singlet I learned to despise and step to the line to make my mom proud. I ran 6:40, a minute slower from the previous year. Reality hit and I was distraught, I realized how much running meant to me and how hard it was to lose. The saying was right, “if you think training is hard, try losing”.

During these years, I created a relationship with my father in South Dakota. My older sister, Melanie, and I would make the yearly travel to the humid unknown state each summer for 3 to 4 weeks. There we would run. Boy, did our dad like to see us run and run well. That’s what our bonding entailed, running. Not just liesure running, but running fast. My older sister was starting her sophomore year in high school and I could see the joy in his eyes when she would fly through the golf course and the eagerness she held for those early morning runs. I wanted to be in bed. I didn’t like the bugs I was constantly swallowing through the trees or those humid midwest mornings that left me drenched in sweat. To get me to run, my dad promised me I could drive his car, so I ran. I never got to drive that car.

Fast forward to my freshman year, I struggled to keep up with the varsity girls. I knew I had it in me, but I also needed what they already had-time. I proved to my team that I had what it took when I was put in as an alternate at CIF Prelims and ended up scoring as our number 5 girl, knocking off the 7th girl for CIF Finals. I forgot to mention, I have asthma. Those who know Walnut are aware of the infamous fires that occur late October/early November near Mt. SAC. Well yeah, the next week those came around and I suffered an asthma attack, almost costing us the CIF-SS title and getting knocked back to alternate.

That year, 2008, our dad came out to watch us race at State. He told me his dream was to see my older sister and I running side-by-side at the State meet before she went off to college. I desperately wanted to gain his love and acceptance, so I made that goal. I wanted to make my dad proud, I wanted him to love me. My hard work that summer seemed to pay off as I was our number two girl throughout all our workouts and was about 10-15 seconds off Melanie. I couldn’t wait for the state meet to come and show my dad that I was worthy of his love. Fate had other plans and I suffered a tibial stress fracture near the end of our week at altitude training in Mammoth. After taking 8 weeks completely off, I came back in time for post season and helped our team win the State title and get a Wild Card to Nationals. I was our 6th girl. I felt as though I let him down and blamed our falling out on my failure to meet his expectations.

I have used our falling out as the fuel to my running success. Though I have battled with endless tibial issues, it has notNotreDameResultsstopped me. Though I spent my high school running career shadowed by my sister’s reputation and Corona del Mar’s stellar program, I was able to make a name of my own my freshman year of college at Southern Methodist University. Through hard work and dedication, I was able to come in as our number one runner and exceed expectations when I placed 8th at the Notre Dame Invitational running a 16:48 5k (time in photo was later adjusted). From that moment, I realized my hidden talent and decided to take it elsewhere, pursing my dreams of being a UCLA Bruin.

Unfortunately, my running career took an unexpected turn upon arriving to UCLA. During my first season, my shins crept out of the darkness and were discovered by my athletic-trainer during a treatment session. This deep dark secret of mine has haunted me since my sophomore year of high school. I learned to embrace them and accept that this pain is a part of me; it’s who I am. UCLA, being a research school and the Cross Country team having the leading specialist in running medicine, is extremely conservative when it comes to injuries, so most of my collegiate career has been spent in boots, on bikes and in the pool.

Now, I am coming to my 4th year of college and I am determined to live my dream before I graduate. I am ready to continue my journey to recovery and live the dream neither my father nor my sister were able to achieve. My DNA reads runner-it is my identity-and I am ready to do whatever it takes to accomplish this dream. I will share my training, thoughts (I’m extremely opinionated and unrestrained), fears, and everything in between as I journey through the
final year of my collegiate career in hopes of pursuing a life of running post-collegiate whether it be pain-free or pain-full.