Dear Cross Country,

So that's it. I have run my last race. I don't think it's actually hit me that it's over.

I've given you 8 years, and I haven't always liked, God knows there were times I hated you. Times I was so close to calling it quits because you made me question my abilities and what I was capable of. But I've weathered you, literally. From freezing rain, snow, wind that could knock you over to heat that makes you think you're going to pass out. You caused me so much pain (physically and mentally) and yet you brought me some of the greatest joy in my life.

The hills. Holy crap the hills. Let me tell you XC, your hills are awful. BUT nothing quite matches winning a cross country race on a hilly course with the knowledge that you just ran 3.1 miles faster than everyone around you. Your body was able to push past its limit, to go beyond what you thought you were capable of, and run a damn fast race. Every course is something new and brings on its own challenges, allowing you to add a new notch in your character. You made me so much stronger. You were my outlet on dark days, you were my outlet on bright days! You were, without a doubt, always there for me.

But oh the friends you've brought me. Even if I hate you specifically, I could never hate you for the people you brought into my life. Each team I've been a part of has been an extension of my family. They were more than just teammates, they were my sister and brothers who knew the pain I was going through. We are bonded and that's something I'll always have. I sat on the curb in front of the pizza place after my last race and looked around me with such overwhelming gratitude for the girls who have made the journey with me over the years. And don't even get me started on the coaches. They've all been such big parts of my life and believed in me when I had no faith. They taught me to persevere when the terrain gets rough. They were like fathers and for that I thank them and you.

You should also apologize to my parents. The problems they put up with between you and I, PHEW. Thank goodness they always encouraged me to go back and push onward. They saw the ups and downs (and I don't just mean the hills) and supported me every step of the way. Thanks mom and dad!

Through thick and thin, through love and hate, you've stood by me for 8 years. So this is my farewell, because I think you deserve that.

Goodbye cross country, keep teaching little girls to run through the pain because it'll always be worth it.

XOXO,

An Ex-c Runner