I ran up that hill like I had never before, I likely broke a record.

During High school I was in the varsity cross country team. I loved running and miss it dearly. I would show up to weekend practice often times being the only female runner. I was very motivated to improve and break my own records and I had earned the most dedicated runner trophy several times. At that time, however, I didn’t think that I deserved any special recognition. I was simply showing up. I was naïve to the fact that I was putting effort beyond the expectation and beyond that of what some of my own teammates were putting forth.

There was one Saturday practice that I remember clearly, or at least one portion of the practice. We were heading out for our usual 5-7 mile practice run. The route took us up a long hill that we sometimes used for hill-repeats when we were gearing up for hilly course races. On this day, there were two other female runners with me, although I don’t recall where they were when this occurred. The boys x-country team started after us, coming up closely behind.

There are a few houses along the way, but mostly the route is on the mountains with a few scattered homes and orchards of orange trees. Below the long uphill there are a few old homes with scattered brush leading towards a levy. As I ran up this long hill I could hear the boys team getting closer behind me. Suddenly I hear the bushes moving along the side of this hill. The side of the hill is so steep I don’t think anyone could walk up it without having to use your hands to climb. And then a dog jumped out of nowhere barking and running towards me, at that moment all I could do was increase my speed. I’ve heard you’re not supposed to run when you see a dog, but what do you do when you’re already running? I ran up that hill like I had never before, I didn’t know what else to do.

All I can think was thank God for the boys on the team running behind me. When they saw what was happening they started trying to get the dog’s attention and trying to scare it away. I remember reaching the half way point and some of them asking if I was okay. That’s about all I remember…oh yeah, and the run back. I was worried about the downhill on the way back so I ran with a couple people just in case. I never saw that dog again.

What occurred that day was a discovery of potential. If I did not have the ability to run up that hill as fast as I had, that dog would have caught up to me. For this to happen I had to first show up that day. Looking back of course, I understand the recognition for dedicated runner. We all have potential yet to be discovered but sometimes it doesn’t happen until we have no choice and it begins with us first showing up.

I have been fortunate to have inspiring mentors throughout my educational and professional career. There have been several individuals who have influenced my level of motivation and self-belief. These were folks who believed in me more than I believed in myself throughout significant moments in my life. In truth, these have been moments of professional development that at that time I could not name as such. Running up that hill while being chased helped me discover potential I did not realize I had. The truth is, many of us have undiscovered potential and sometimes it takes an extra push by someone who believes in us to discover we’ve had the ability all along.

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