A week ago I packed up my dad’s car in Minneapolis and drove ten hours down to Fayetteville, Arkansas to spend two months training with my coaches and the University of Arkansas cross country team. Rick and Megan Elliott are the assistant coaches at Arkansas, and they have been doing an awesome job coaching me long distance since December. I thought we would have an even better relationship after getting to work together in person. What better time to quit everything and hang out in Arkansas than ten months prior to Trials?
Prior to driving down here, I had met Megan once at the Payton Jordan meet, and I had never met Rick, but they have been gracious enough to let me stay in the their spare bedroom. Even though I knew they were cool, I was stressed out about being in their space. I’m sure it’s hard having me in the house whenever they are home from work. I have a hard time getting out of the house at night since I’m usually exhausted, I don’t have any friends to meet up with, and I really should just be working on grad school applications anyways.
On top of feeling like I’m hanging out too much with a newly married couple that probably wants some alone time at the end of long work days, I know I’m definitely out of place at practice with the University of Arkansas cross country team. I feel elderly tagging along to practice with women who are as much as ten years younger than me. On the first day I ran with them, one of the freshman asked, “So, how old are you?” When I told her I was 28, she incredulously replied, “Whoa, I’m 18.” And, while everyone is considered a legal adult, and my life closely mirrors an NCAA student athlete, there are big differences in life experience while can make relating difficult.
On the other hand, everyone has been very welcoming and tolerant of the random person who decided to join their training group. And I’m so thankful to have a group of fast women to train with again. Plus, it’s when differences exist that learning happens. I hope I can share something of what I’ve gleaned during my running career, and I’m hoping they can keep my mindset fresh and get my legs fast.