Instead of sleeping in on cool, foggy fall mornings, we are generally awake early, staring down a wide, grassy starting line. Our spiked shoes pierce the fallen leaves, gripping the ground beneath us as we propel forward at the sound of the gun cracking the October sky. Sporting the Purdue “P” plastered across our chests, a group of us dart along the 3.2 mile course of winding paths, towering trees, and grassy terrain. Having been in and out of injury for some time now, my first opportunity to toe the line at a cross country meet came last weekend at the University of Illinois. When I crossed the finish line, I was too tired to open my eyes. I stumbled around, my legs barely supporting the weight of my exhausted body. It’s not always the easiest question to answer – why (in the world) do you run? Sometimes, when my body is in that much pain, I don’t know the answer. But I always have reasons I come back to as to why I run miles on miles: all of my teammates will be lifelong friends. In fact, my network of friends has grown so extensive that whenever I show up to a meet, the relationship between me and the person standing to my left is three degrees of separation. I have truly learned what it means to be dedicated, even when it’s hard to be, and motivated, even when lacking inspiration. Finally, I get to represent the most amazing university there ever was doing something I’m gifted at, and more importantly, something I love. Purdue, even with forty-thousand students, has something unique for everybody, and I’m just another student who is incredibly thankful that she’s found something that makes Purdue “home.” In the meantime, I’m (kind of) looking forward to the days when I get to start sleeping in.
— Reagan Lear, Sophomore, Movement and Sport Sciences