Sassafras here. We’re flashing all the way back to my freshman year of college, when ‘NSYNC was in its heyday, people could quite literally party like it was 1999, and Umbros were my go-to running shorts of choice.
I ran cross country and track for my first two years of college, but that’s not what this photo is about. With living at home my first quarter and trying to balance my student and athlete roles, I was always in a hurry to get somewhere: class, practice, the weight room, study tables or home to my bed. My schedule was so crazy with two-a-days that I eventually bought a dining hall plan once I realized exactly how much time I would be spending on campus!
After winter break, the roommate of one of my teamies transferred schools, so I moved into the dorm in her place. It was so much easier to just run across campus instead of making a 15 minute drive each way! I didn’t really bond with the people in my hall too much at first, though. My roommate/teammate was a sophomore and already had her established circle of friends. Sure, they’d include me, but I always felt like I was intruding. And while I was closer to the action of your traditional college social life, I was still always on the go somewhere – and it seemed like everyone else already knew everyone else in my hall. They’d bonded over late nights and cheesy bread and chats in the hallway, the way you do when you live communally for the first time and no one is there to tell you to get some sleep for your first class.
Sometime in the spring of 1999 I met Hilary, who lived at the end of the hall. I can’t remember who initiated our little get-to-know-you session, but I do know that it went something like this. “Hey… I have that shirt, too!” Yep, as simple as that. We recognized the “uniform” of a fellow runner, and that was all it took. Our friendship was off and running (pun intended).
Since I was on the mend from a strained hip flexor and not tied to a training plan, we started running together that April, covering the catwalks of campus and hitting the roads at all times of the day to deal with the stress of classes and boys. We’d do six miles here, four miles there. Through Hilary, I met the rest of the girls on our floor and made some lifelong friends. We made some great memories during our time at OU.
In true cheesy college girl fashion, this photo represents us showing off the shirt that helped us spark up that first conversation. And of course it’s in the hallway, because that’s where a solid 93% of our group’s little photo sessions took place.
After all these years, Hil and I still email each other about our latest updates in races, training and life. (Although probably not as often as we could. In fact, writing this post is reminding me that I am overdue in sending her a catch-up email!) Our friendship was – and is – about more than just running, but running helped us take that first step.