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Hereford cross country runner Steph Reynolds shares how she fell for the sport

Cross Country Running

During the school year, Varsity Letters will periodically ask student-athletes from various sports to step in as guest bloggers. They will share their personal thoughts as they approach a big game or enjoy a memorable moment over the course of a given season. 

This week's guest is Steph Reynolds, a senior cross country runner at Hereford. Looking for a new challenge during her senior year, Steph joined Hereford's No. 2-ranked cross country team and has enjoyed immediate success.   

Here's what Steph wrote Thursday after winning her first race Wednesday at a Baltimore County meet at Franklin High:

Sweat blurred my vision, causing me to stumble over a treacherous tree root and almost take a tumble down the steep hill. I quickly wiped the sweat off of my face, regained my footing and continued to run through the dense woods near Hereford High School. This was a normal morning for me during the summer, when I would wake up no later than 6 a.m. and would be on my adventure by 7.

Each day, I told myself that I was getting the workout “over with” by running early in the morning, avoiding the heat. Yet after the first 30 minutes of battling steep hills and avoiding the rock-laden paths, I didn’t want to stop. Ever. I loved the challenge and the exhaustion I felt after completing a 10-mile run -- pushing my body to do something that, at the start of Mile One, I would never believe was possible.

I began to run out of mere enjoyment during my sophomore year, when my main sport was horseback riding. I continued to run only a few times a week until the spring of my junior year, when I began to find more release in running for 30 minutes than in my time spent riding my horse. Throughout the last weeks of school I ran with my cross-country friends, all of which were guys, forcing myself to run their pace (usually a good minute faster than what I usually ran alone). As I began to become more and more comfortable with the pace the boys ran and the mileage that we did together every day after school, I decided to go out for cross country my senior year. I ran over 400 miles during the summer, a feat that encouraged me to try to be a varsity athlete.

As the six weeks of XC flew by, I learned how to be part of a team, strategizing for league meets and preparing for invitationals, such as the meet that is occurring this weekend at Dulaney. I achieved my first win this past Wednesday at a league meet at Franklin High School, which was a morale booster. Seeing not one runner’s back during the entire race was uplifting yet strange; I’m used to being the follower, pacing off of the top Hereford runners. I claimed the individual win for the Hereford girls team, but I could not have won without the support I received from the entire team and parents.

One of the first observations that I made when I joined Hereford’s XC team was how family-oriented the team is. Team breakfasts, the attendance of parents at every meet and the pasta parties before major races have shown me how important the team’s spirit is. Tonight, I am hosting the second pasta party of the season – it’s great to be part of the running family!

- Steph Reynolds

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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