“Run Track Just Like That!”
by Hunter Foote

Through reflection and just everyday life here, I’m learning so many valuable things about myself. I’m a “spontaneous motivator.” I work well after a good cry. I love conch. I am a good dorm mama. But also, I’ve been learning that I’m exponentially stronger than I thought I was.

At the beginning of the semester we had our first run-swim. We ran a maximum of 200 meters, then swam for a maximum of 30 over and over again. It’s one of the nicest exercises here because once your legs get tired from swimming, it’s right about time to jump back in the water. And, when your arms get tired of swimming, you’re almost about to transition back to land. As soon as I started out on the swim, I felt strong. I quickly and easily got into a rhythm. While one arm swings over my head, reaching as far as possible, the other arm is stretched out into the water, trying to pull at as much water towards me as possible. I quickly passed the people swimming around me.

But then, my juggernaut-like momentum came suddenly to a halt when I had to put my feet back onto the ground. As soon as I started running, more like sadly traipsing my feet along the ground, my breathing got heavy and this sensation came over me. The only way to describe this feeling is my whole body screaming “NO! DON’T DO THAT TO ME! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?”

However, throughout the course of this semester, I can feel myself getting stronger. I chose run track, hoping for more of a challenge. With each run, my running buddy (Marianne) and I added more another five minutes to the “run without walking” time. After four runs (each around four miles) we built ourselves up to 25 minutes of running without walking, we both felt so strong and so proud of ourselves. It was the longest we had ever run without stopping.

However, our fifth run was the one that tore down all those accomplishments and put them to shame. Last week on Saturday morning, we had an extended workout. This means an hour and a half of exercise, rather than just 45 minutes. Run track circled up together, to find out that we had to run a haunting five miles. Marianne and I looked at each other in disbelief. That was more than double what we had ever run before coming to the Island School.

We started out really, really slow, pacing ourselves and “setting ourselves up for success”. We didn’t set a time goal this time. We just started running. This wasn’t something we did on purpose; we just started without thinking about it. Soon, we got to 30 minutes without stopping, another giant mile marker for us. But instead of stopping, we looked at each other, and realized we both felt GOOD on this run. How was this possible? Two girls that had never run more than two miles feeling really good about our run. We felt invincible. We kept trudging along. 40 minutes, then 50, then 55, then right at 60 minutes, we finished our 5-mile run. Five miles. No stopping. The greatest distance we had ever run. We hit the flagpole feeling so strong and so accomplished and so proud of ourselves. Since then, my faithful running buddy, Marianne, and I have been running run-track with new attitudes. We no longer have that mental block of “my body can’t do this anymore”. We now have the mindset of “no stopping, push harder, and we can do this!”

Although we have workload, sanitation, and food stress here at the Island School, it’s all worth it in the end. Homesickness, being dirty and eating a meal we don’t necessarily enjoy doesn’t even begin to amount to the level of accomplishment we gain here.