Hi Saltines! Call me Lavender! I’m a runner in Saint Paul, Minnesota, trying to find my place in post-collegiate running. Other things I do include calligraphy, cooking, reading, working a desk job at an insurance company, and binge-watching a staggering number of shows, most recently The Mindy Project, On My Block, Catastrophe, Gilmore Girls, Workin’ Moms, and Great News.
I may not be as fast as I wish (is anyone?), but I have been running for a long time. I am currently one year out of college and have been running since third grade! It all started with a program in my school district called Marathon Kids: running 26.2 miles over the course of a semester would earn me a free t-shirt. By the end of the semester, I was hooked. My first race was a Christmas Lights 5K with my dad.
By my junior year of high school I’d been running track for several years, and liked where I was headed. I figured if I kept improving at the rate I had been in 9th and 10th grade, maybe there was a tiny chance I’d have a shot at walking onto a Division I collegiate team. But I got injured for most of junior year, and by the time senior year came around, running felt almost foreign. Every race hurt so badly and it didn’t feel worth the struggle. I was honestly relieved that I wasn’t going to have to continue this torture in college.
During college orientation, I put my email address down for the University Running Club, but ignored their emails for a year and a half after that. I went through sorority recruitment, got a bid to my favorite house, and partied it up like a true college freshman. I still jogged a few times a week for heart health and whatnot, but I wasn’t about to sign up for any races or attempt a track workout.
It’s hard to be anything but blunt about what happened during the spring of my freshman year; it brought me into the worst time of my life and changed me forever. A week before I was initiated into my sorority, I was sexually assaulted by a close friend of my sorority “big” sister, who was a member of a nearby fraternity. I never did and never will remember everything that happened that night, but I do know that there was also another guy involved, who was at that time the president of said fraternity. The latter apologized to me a few weeks later, but wouldn’t go into detail about what he had done.
My dream college life turned into a nightmare. When I returned to campus for my sophomore year, I had a hard time with almost everything; only running seemed unchanged by what had happened. The guy who had apologized to me was elected president of the Inter Fraternity Council, the guy who’d assaulted me was voted president of the fraternity, and a lot of my friends decided to side with them instead of me. Say what you will about the Title IX sexual misconduct reporting process at universities, I can tell you firsthand that going through it as a victim is absolutely terrible. The only thing I could do to let off some steam (besides going to counseling, which I definitely did) was to run. I gradually increased my mileage, added in weekly hills, and even embraced the dreaded track.
One day, on a whim, I actually opened and read one of the University Running Club’s weekly email blasts. I started running workouts at the indoor track with some of the girls on the club’s racing team. They were going to have a track meet in Indiana that April that sounded like fun. The meet was going to be on the anniversary of my assault.
I ended up not only going to Indiana for a very fun and tiring weekend (I ran the 5K, 1500m, 800m, and 4x400m!), but I raced in every single outdoor track meet that the club participated in that spring. I didn’t get nervous before races like I had in high school, because at the end of the day, even if I raced terribly, I was finally enjoying running again.
I spent the last two years of college running cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track, with a few injuries to keep things interesting. Of course, I still had a deep canyon to claw myself out of in the aftermath of my assault, the stressful reporting process, and the difficult decision of quitting my sorority. Nonetheless I felt amazingly lucky to have a hobby I loved and teammates I cared about and trusted.
Now that I have graduated, I am training for longer distances and road races. I am currently working towards a half marathon in May and my first full marathon, Twin Cities, this October! Running a marathon has been something I have wanted to do for many years, and so I am super pumped to be officially registered for my first 26.2. This summer I am going to be doing a LOT of running, and I can’t wait to share the experience with you!