For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve been a runner. There are so many things I love about this sport. I love how running gave me confidence as a middle schooler and high schooler when my confidence was lacking. I love the peace it can give in moments when I’m alone in a trail in the mountains and I feel completely connected to nature and God. I love how strong I feel after finishing a super long long run or hard workout. I love the beautiful views and things I get to see that are only accessible by my little legs running through trails. I love how running can connects us- it’s given me friends around the world and has connected me with incredible people who I would have never met without it.
I started running in elementary school. My PE coach, Coach Eshelman, was the men’s cross country coach at Plano Senior High, the high school I would eventually go to. When it was a nice day out (meaning not 100 degrees in Texas), he would take us outside to some soccer fields where he had set up a 400 meter loop for something he called walk, jog, run. We could spend our time walking, jogging, or running around the loop and every time we passed by the start we got a Popsicle stick. At the end of the day, the coaches counted up our popsicle sticks and recorded how many loops we had run and at the end of the year medals were given to the kids who had run the most loops. I remember the first day we did walk, jog, run. I was in first grade and we all lined up at the start. Coach Esh said, “ready, set, go!” and we were off. For some reason, probably because of the energy and freedom I felt running along with a childlike fearlessness, I decided to run that day. Most kids sprinted out and were done after 200 meters but I paced myself and ran 1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6 loops – a mile and a half! For some reason I just never got tired and I wondered why other kids had stopped so early. After that, walk, jog, run became one of my favorite activities- I looked forward to it every time. Coach Esh was a huge encouragement to me. He encouraged me to run, told me about cross country in high school, and introduced me to one of the guys on the team who was a Footlocker Nationals Qualifier and eventually went on to run D1 in college; he really sparked a love and a fire in me for the sport.
All during elementary school I built up this love for running. I didn’t seriously train until middle school- I played soccer and basketball and just enjoyed being a kid. The only races I ran were couple of local 5k road races with my Dad. I was so nervous for the first one but my Dad told me not to worry, he would be with me the whole time. We ran together for the first 400 meters until I told him, “Dad, I think I want to run a little faster,” so I ended up being the one that left him in the dust. By the time I got to middle school, I was so excited to actually race on a track. In 7th grade I finished second in the mile at our district meet. I was happy with my first real racing season but I wanted to get faster so I decided to set some goals for myself- the next year I wanted to win district! I knew that to do that would require some extra work so I went on a few runs of my own up and down a bike path near my house. In eighth grade, I won district! Then it was on to high school where I was so excited to finally get to race cross country! I made varsity my freshman year and my team made it to regionals. I got a lot faster that season, shaving off minutes from my 5k PR. After cross country season was over, we took a really long break for about two months. At that point in my running career I had no idea about how training worked so I was totally surprised when I was allllll the way back where I started after taking two months off. I spent the track season building back fitness to where I had been at the end of cross country. After track ended, I started thinking about goals for next year. Sophomore year, I wanted to make it to state in cross country! Just like in middle school, I knew that if I wanted to achieve something greater than before I had to change something and I knew that I couldn’t take a whole two months off like I had in the winter. My team didn’t meet up to run much in the summer so Coach Esh invited me to run with the guys team. Jeff, the captain of the guys team, was really involved in helping me out and making sure I was included. He picked me up, drove me to practice every day, and pushed me and encouraged me in workouts. With a big kick at the end of my regionals race, I ended up getting 10th in the region which was the last person to make it to state! After state, my coach (a different than Coach Esh, he only coached the boys) told me to take off two months again. I took a break but I wanted to make it to state in track too (which was much harder than making state in cross country) so I knew I needed to do something to keep training. My team and I showed up to practice early in the morning before school started every morning but my coach wouldn’t let us run; she just told us to sit in the indoor facility. I asked if I could go out for runs but she told me I couldn’t go alone because of safety issues so I was stuck going to practice early every morning, not doing anything, going to school all day, then running after school before doing all my homework because I wanted to get in shape for track. It got exhausting after a couple weeks and I started feeling lost. I had no idea how to train myself and I was frustrated that I didn’t feel like I was reaching my potential. I seriously considered quitting because I like to go all in on whatever I decide to do and I thought if I couldn’t go all in on this, there were other things I could spend my time and energy on.
My parents knew about my frustration and my mom heard from some friends that there was a club team for high school runners in Dallas called the Dallas Metroplex Striders coached by Terry Jessup. That team had some of the best runners in the state on it so once I heard about it I was determined to join. I went to practice for the first time on a crisp Tuesday in December where the workout was a four mile tempo run. After that practice, I was hooked! I loved the girls on the team and the coach was incredible. I started training with that team on Tuesdays and Saturdays and Terry gave me workouts for the rest of the week. The first race I ran after joining the team I made a huge jump- I shaved off almost 20 seconds from my mile time! I made it to state in track that year, then junior year I was second in state in cross country and made it to Nike and Footlocker Nationals, I won state in the 1600 and 3200 that track season, then went on to win State in cross country, grab a national title at Nike Nationals, placed second at Footlocker my senior year, and I signed to run at a D1 school in college. Terry and all the girls on my club team made a huge impact on my life and gave me even more of a love for running.
After high school, I went to Baylor University and ran track there. I struggled my first couple years trying to get used to a new program and get used to college but my junior year I had a breakthrough and things really started clicking. I ended up being a 6X All American at Baylor (in the indoor 3k twice, indoor 5k, steeplechase twice, and cross country once) and was also a 5 X Big 12 Conference Champion. After college I signed a contract with ASICS so now I run professionally and live in Flagstaff, Arizona where I am training under Ryan Hall. Running professionally has been a great experience so far, I have loved traveling for training and racing, meeting new people, and pushing myself in this sport while I grow as a person and athlete. Now, I feel like it’s time to give back to this sport and help others achieve their goals.
Running is a sport that has pushed me to be a better athlete and person in general. It’s given me great life skills, great perspective, and I have learned so much from both achievements and challenges that I’ve had through my career so far. Looking back on my running story, it’s really the people around me who have encouraged me and inspired me to be the best I could be and who have helped me learn the lessons running has offered me. Coach Esh encouraged me in walk jog run, my Dad ran with me in local races, Jeff pushed me to train and reach a new level, Terry gave me a love for the sport and the tools to reach my potential, my teammates have been there to cheer me on and encourage me, and my coach now continues to push me and help me grow athletically and spiritually- all these people have had a huge impact on me as an athlete and person. My desire to coach comes from these incredible people and from the way I’ve been able to grow through this sport. I want to be a person who other people can look to and say, “She really encouraged/inspired me to be able to do __________ or reach ___________ goal.” I want to coach athletes who aren’t afraid to dream big, set big goals, work hard for them, and learn and grow along the way. If that sounds like you, contact me and let’s get started running the world and chasing your dreams!