The Hilltopper

Cross country runner experiences a change of pace

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Senior Ethan Myers

Senior Ethan Myers

Senior Ethan Myers

Maggie Schroeder, Sports Editor

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July 23, 2018… the first day of cross country practice for senior, Ethan Myers.  Anxiety rippled through him as he jogged down Mayfield Avenue and towards Highland Park. Even though new surroundings were not unusual, the silence of the park made the oddly cool morning feel eerie.

 

Myers proceeded up to the shelter, as newbies and seasoned competitors alike slowly filed in, jogging around, chatting, and sprawling out amongst the black benches.  The practice was constructed to be physically undemanding, as the beginning of the season always was, but Myers was determined to show his worth to the team.

 

He remembered this first run being an unusual struggle, as he’d ran a 20K just two days prior and was still sore from the near half-marathon.  However, struggle definitely wasn’t a new feeling for Myers, as just fourteen months earlier his life was flipped upside down.

 

May 27, 2017… the day Myers was taken away from home and flown halfway across the country, unsure of what was happening.

 

“When I first was taken, I was really angry and scared because I had no idea what was going on or how long I’d be gone for,” he admitted.  Myers was first moved to Open Sky, a wilderness therapy program. He spent 89 full days there, living entirely outside. He never once went into a building throughout the entire experience, which included sleeping, eating, and showering outside.

 

After graduating from Open Sky, Myers was moved to a second location, Catalyst Residential Treatment Center. There, he began to work out daily, often through running.

 

“At Catalyst, we’d wake up every morning and go workout,” Myers said, “When it was warm enough, we’d go on runs outside.”

 

His experiences at Catalyst lead him to realize he enjoyed, and excelled in, running.

 

“I generally seemed to do pretty well when we ran, which lead me to enter some 5Ks and triathlons out there.  When I got back, I was talking with my dad and he suggested that I run cross country.”

 

While at Catalyst, Myers not only realized that he was a talented runner but that running would be able to help him, too. He returned back home on June 14, 2018, with a fresh outlook on life and decided to join the cross-country team.

 

During the summer, he trained hard for the first day of practice, logging close to 60 miles per week, and working on pushing himself to his physical and mental limits.

 

“When I began running over the summer I had these feelings that led me to push myself as much as I could during every run.  But, over time, running has helped me to manage stress and find new outlets.”

 

Those new outlets he discovered through running helped him with daily struggles, such as body dysmorphia, while also providing him time to reflect on life.

 

After the first practice, competition season grew nearer, and Myers developed more endurance. He finally put it to the test at the first meet of the season, the Moeller Primetime Invitational.  

 

August 24, 2018… Myers stood at the starting line for the first meet of the season.  Harsh stadium lights beat down on the grass, casting dim shadows around the runners. The race was set to go off at 9:15 PM, and the sun was dropping behind the trees.  The race official blew his whistle, signaling that the race was about to begin. For a flicker of a moment, everything was still. Then, as if out of nowhere, the gunshot shattered the air and the race began.

 

After the race, Myers was momentarily unsure if he wanted to continue, “I hated Moeller,” he admitted, “I remember running that race in the dark and thinking that I was going to quit right after the race was over.”

 

But, Myers set the negative experience aside and decided to keep running. Deep down, he knew he’d be able to help the team, but he just had to prove it.

 

Myers’ coaches, 7th grade English teacher Brian Alessandro and 6th grade math teacher Aaron Lense were glad he joined and stuck with the team throughout the season.

 

“Ethan was a great edition to the team this year.  He grew a lot as a distance runner and was always a contributor to the team.” Lense praised.

 

Alessandro echoed his words, “It’s really hard to start running cross country as a senior and be on the varsity team.  He’s a hard worker and it shows when he races.”

 

The season continued to race by as Myers balanced his life that included music, hanging with friends, keeping good grades, and, of course, running. As he put more miles in the books, Myers began to form friendships with the other runners on the team and began to gain a deeper appreciation for workouts.

 

“I definitely enjoy workouts and the sense of accomplishment they bring.  Sometimes it can be difficult going into them because you know you will have to exert yourself but afterwards the rewards are amazing.”

 

Myers also enjoys regular runs where he is able to relax and daydream about whatever seems fit. His favorite route is running down into Cincinnati by crossing the Purple People Bridge, as it’s always full of people and activity.

 

As mid-October rolled around, the season’s end was in sight. Only three meets remained- NKAC Conference, KHSAA Regionals, and KHSAA State.  

 

October 13, 2018… the day of the NKAC Conference meet. Myers ran his personal record 5K time (18:00) that day, despite the frigid weather. His results came in as a pleasant surprise, but the poorly marked course lead to a bit of personal disappointment.

 

When I figured [out I had run a personal best time], I was actually disappointed because there were no distance markers during the race, the end came faster than I expected and afterwards I realized I could have actually pushed harder,” Myers realized.

After Conference came the regional meet.

 

During regionals, the boys’ team was able to pull out a 2nd place finish, but Myers had his eyes fixed on state.  His season-long goal had been to be able to help at state by running as one of the top five runners on the team.  He cut his mileage in half to keep his body in peak shape for the final meet. Finally, the morning of state arrived.

 

November 3, 2018… Myers and his teammates filed onto the bus that was their ride to the state meet.  

 

“I was definitely anxious going into state.  However, I thought it was exciting because I knew I worked hard and was lucky to be expected to finish in the top 5 for the team.”

 

The meet was held, per tradition, at the Kentucky Horse Park, even though parts of the course were torn up and covered in standing water due to the rain.  Myers ran an 18:35, placing 79th out of 254 boys and accomplishing his goal of being one of the top five runners. His time and place allowed him to complete his goal and contribute to his team’s 6th place state finish.  

 

Myers plans on running track in the spring, but says this year will be his last competing in any running related sport for a team. In college, he plans on running and racing but only for his own enjoyment. Though he is very grateful for his experiences through cross country, he feels it is best to move on so he is able to focus on other passions, such as music.

 

“I have never been a person to stick to something long,” he says about himself.

 

Even though Myers is finished competing in cross country, a small part of the season will always remain.  As runners often say, the pain is temporary, the memories of the season will last forever.

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Cross country runner experiences a change of pace