I remember the day distinctly. I look back at it constantly, and a million thoughts rush through my head. Often questions, like “Why?” or “What if?” or “Where would I be?” cross my mind. I was so young and naïve, without a care in the world. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and I often wish I could go back to this day and tie myself in a closet making it impossible for me to escape. At the time, I had no choice, I was already wandering around on the starting line about to run my very first Cross Country race.
As many of you may know, I come from an extremely competitive running family. My sister Caitlyn pretty much owns the Central Mass District Cross Country Course, and my four older brothers were basically good at everything. Whether it was running fast, or finding new ways to torture me, they were most certainly talented. Trust me.
As a fifth grader , I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I’m competitive and was excited to run. I ran the race that day and placed third out of all middle schoolers. Later on that year, I ended up setting 3 course records, won every race, and eventually beat the 2 girls who beat me in my very first meet. Little did I know that that day, the day I decided to lace up my running shoes for the very first time, would change my life forever. I was unaware of the commitment I was making. I did not know that the simple task of tying my shoes and standing on a white line labeled “START” was like signing a contract agreeing to dedicate and commit myself to a sport I barely even knew.
As I grew older, there were many times when I thought about leaving the sport. During my Freshman year of Cross Country, I was not as competitive as I would have liked. It was not the typical case of “burn-out” that you see in young female runners. I was just injured, lazy, and mentally I could not handle it. I decided to take indoor off and I began to drown in negative thoughts. At this point in my life, I probably would have quit running and never looked back, but there was something there keeping me afloat these negative thoughts. This something was Sisu.
Sisu is the ability to keep your head above the water and to push through life with pure toughness, grit, and determination. Sisu allows us to stay positive, regardless of the situation. Sisu conquers all negative thoughts, and it lets us look forward and ultimately pursue our goals. Sisu brings us together, and it is in each and every one of us. A simple, short, two syllabled word, with such a huge meaning kept me from quitting a sport I love. Sisu rescued me from my negative thoughts, and brought me to my current successful running career. Sisu allowed me to realize that my gift of running is a blessing, not a curse, in which I should be thankful.
If I could go back to the day that I was wandering around at the starting line, excited to run my very first Cross-Country race, I probably wouldn’t have locked myself in a closet, or tied my shoelaces together. In fact, I probably would have told myself to channel my inner sisu, and run my little heart out until I caught those two girls up in front of me.
Sisu lives and breathes in all of us, and with it anything is possible.