I was running in a downpour a few weeks ago, bundled up in my spandex and sweatshirt, cursing to the wind and grumpy that I couldn’t use my iPod in this type of weather. Suddenly a group of 20-something youngsters frivolously splashed through puddles in their short shorts and whipped past me down the running trail and my mind flashed back to my time running for Ohio Wesleyan University. I must confess. I got jealous of those kids. From the mile-repeat-hell-runs to the leisurely Sunday “conversational-paced” long runs followed by hours-long team brunches at the dine-in hall, there’s just something about that varsity collegiate athletic atmosphere that can’t be matched.
You might think I’m exaggerating when I say running made college the best four years of my life, but really, it was amazing! Here is my top ten list of reasons I still love collegiate running:
#10: It’s totally acceptable to go up for fourth and fifths at the all-you-can-eat dine in hall when all the twiggy runner boys are doing it, too.
#9: The 48-hour card (a rule to no alcohol two days before the race) is an easy-way-out if you’re simply not in the mood to have a beer. Sometimes people look like I’m crazy when it’s a Friday night and I say I want water since I have a race on Sunday.
#8: The cinnamon bagels, blueberry muffins and chocolate chip cookies that the runner moms provided at most meets, just because they loved us!
#7: The set schedule of racing for an entire season without the agony of choosing. Decisions are made for you, lickety-split.
#6: The FREE entry into the most competitive races! Gosh, those were the days.
#5: The free meal following the meet. Whether it be Wendy’s or Taco Bell, our collegiate metabolisms didn’t mind and our cross-country budget always kept us well-fed.
#4: The warm bus service catering to our every need, getting us to the races on time (most the time…) and at the right place. If I had a dollar for all the stresses of a goofy GPS and a scare of missing the starting line due to failure to finding a parking spot…I might be a millionaire in my post-collegiate racing!
#3: Having a group of fabulous training companions always waiting at 4 p.m. to work-out together and an expert coach who trained us each to our full potential. Like my coach always said, the group that sweats together is the group that becomes family.
#2: The energizing pre-race warm ups and school-spirited cheers. Ours was “B with an I, S with an H, O-P-S….BISHOPS!” and it always got the blood flowing and a smile on the face before the gun shot off!
#1: Where else can you run in BRIEFS (run buns, to be more exact) surrounded by your best friends without getting a second glance!?!
I know there are running groups and teams out there for post-collegiate runners specifically looking to continue running competitively, but to be honest, I think I’ve avoided joining one completely due to a fear that it wouldn’t be able to compare to my days on the cross-country and track teams at OWU. I feel like I might be disappointed. Writing this, I realize that perhaps I would prove myself wrong, but for now I’m reminiscent about my glory days and missing the best four years of my life.
Did you compete in cross-country or track in college? What do you do as a post-collegiate runner to fill that void?