My first experience with running as a sport came my 7th grade year.  As a basketball player, we were told track would be our offseason program.  On the first day, the coach lined us all up along the football field end zone line.  As the whistle blew, we sprinted across the field and I was not one of the first runners to cross the line.  The coach then took those of us who were obviously not going to make the sprint relay team, and had us jog around the field for a certain number of laps.  I was the 2nd one to finish, and so my career as a distance runner began.

 

Although slightly disappointed in not being a sprinter (or a hurdler- that’s what I really wanted to do- but I was about 4’8” with no vertical leap), I took on my role as one of the top distance runners with pride.  I took the lead in practices and competed each meet in the 1600m, eventually setting the school record. My sophomore year, we moved from our small town in Arkansas to St. Louis, MO. While I was no longer the top runner (not even close) I participated in both cross country and track and truly enjoyed my experiences on those teams.  So much so, that I chose to walk on to the cross country team at Harding University, where I ran for 4 years.

 

Looking back, I do not remember an exact point at which running became more for me than just something I was pretty good at or something that got me into shape.  It wasn’t just one thing that made it such a meaningful part of my life- it was many things. It was the teammates I met and shared long runs and hard practices with.  It was the sense of accomplishment I felt after a well run race or a personal goal achieved. It was the coaches that challenged me and really invested time and energy in my development. I will never forget running in the NCAA II National Cross Country meet my senior year at Harding.  About 1 mile into the race, I heard a familiar voice. It was my high school track coach, who had kept track of all his former runners who were running in college, and drove 4 hours to watch me race. Coach Carrey is one of the reasons I chose to become a coach. I wanted to invest in kids the way he invested in me and so many others.  I wanted to take the calling of teaching that God put on my heart and share it on the athletic court, field, track and trail.

 

Running is never easy, but it is often necessary and always beneficial to achieving physical goals in the sports and endeavors we undertake.  Running requires time and energy, physical stamina and mental focus. So many life lessons can be learned from running. It is no surprise to me that God, through Paul, uses the image of a runner more than once in his letters to speak to the challenges we face and to the goals we should have as we run this race of life.

 

While running is not and has never been something that has come easy for me to love and enjoy (it is a challenge to make myself go for a run every time), it is something that has shaped who I am. Through my experiences with running, I have made many friendships, learned how to push myself beyond what I thought possible, experienced the joy of victory, and learned to handle disappointment.  God has used this “unexpected blessing” to place me here at BCS, where I can share the lessons I have learned with many other young runners and hopefully encourage them to experience the benefits and blessings God has provided us through His gift of running.

 

Blessings,
Katie Smith
K-8th P.E. Coach
Track and Cross Country Coach