9 Years Running

by Alli Mendez

Summer is officially over and we are at the beginning of my favorite time of the year – FALL TRAINING! Call me crazy, but it’s true. I have been on Rogue AC for 3 years and have witnessed the team evolve as is significantly evident by looking at the depth. As we begin a new season, we do so with lots of new talent. Although I’ve never been one that’s short on words, it’s difficult to describe the camaraderie that develops when you have a group of post-collegiate runners together, further enhancing each of our desires of reaching our next level.

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Further enhancing each of our desires of reaching our next level…of hugs!

This fall season marks my 9th year of running. Though it could be viewed as a relatively short time, I’ve learned SO much over the years. It can best be described as a rollercoaster ride but it’s been the BEST ride ever! I do admit that I do have a love/hate relationship with running. I have dealt with the highs and celebrations of good races; the lows and tsunamis of tears that followed bad races, and I mustn’t forget the frustration and pain of various injuries.  When I started running cross country and track during my junior of high school, I sensed (and hoped) I wouldn’t be hanging up my spikes once I graduated. Though I only ran cross country and track my last two years of high school, I might have not pursued running in college if it weren’t for my high school coach. Coach Toby Howell, was the first to get me excited about the sport.  I distinctly remember he would often use yellow caution tape as a tool to join the slower runners to their faster counterparts to help push us! He encouraged a competitive spirit, yet was deliberate in making it fun. Cross country season was always exciting; I loved running through the dirt and mud, the smell of the fresh cut grass, and not to mention the steep hills! Next, switch gears to spring and track season, there is something about running around in circles that I loved, which is probably why I race the 10k, the longest race on the track!

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Hook Them, Longhorns!

Fast forward to being a walk-on athlete at THE University of Texas. I was elated and extremely proud to be a part of the Women’s Cross Country & Track teams and in the capable hands of Coach Steve Sisson. His enthusiasm helped me maintain my excitement for running. Having trained with Steve for the past 7 years now (WOW!!), his energy and enthusiasm for this sport is truly what continues to catapult me further. One funny thing about Steve: he will get mad at me if I’m running too slow and he’ll also get mad if I’m running too fast! Seriously!?! Over the years, we have developed a unique and solid coach/athlete relationship; Steve can read me like a book and knows exactly which buttons to push if necessary. He knows when I’m happy; he knows when I’m grumpy. He even knows where to find me when I hide from him after a terrible race! It’s uncanny how “on target” his sixth sense can be. Looking back to my college years I would have laughed and said, “There’s no way!” if someone had told me I was going to be a professional runner. But since my very first day of training at UT, Steve has told me repeatedly that you can achieve anything you want if you just BELIEVE in yourself and are willing to do the work. Steve has seen and helped me develop into the runner I am today and I give him all the credit for my accomplishments thus far. His love of running is infectious and it shows in me and everyone he coaches.

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This hug was brought to you by AT&T

Both Coach Howell and Steve have instilled an excitement and love for running that runs SO deep, that now I would like to pass on the same enthusiasm. In a conscious effort to give back to the Austin community, I have decided to make a few positive changes and seize the opportunity to share my passion for running with local Austin youths and possibly make a difference in their lives. In doing so, I have recently joined the coaching staff of the Marathon High program and plan to help all of the kiddos under my tutelage accomplish their goal of crossing the Austin Marathon finish line in February 2015! I want to share with them that running IS fun and finishing a marathon is a HUGE accomplishment. Not only will they learn the mechanics of running and benefits of a healthy lifestyle, but practical lessons in self-confidence, discipline and determination; skills that can be applied to their daily lives. This is the first year my schedule has allowed me be a part of the Marathon High program and I am extremely excited. I’ve seen a few of my fellow teammates (who are also coaches) participate every year and the excitement and euphoria they experience as they watch “their kids” cross the finish line is PRICELESS! I can’t wait!

Whether gearing up for my next workout, race, or my weekly Marathon High coaching, I sincerely love what I do and want to do BIG things. With a new season ahead I cannot wait to see what is in store and could not be more excited for Rogue AC this coming year!!! See you at the finish line!

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Posted on September 17, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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