Wright Out of the Blocks: Boston, here I come

By Jenn Wright, Science Leadership Academy

The convention goes that you get new running shoes every 350 to 400 miles. I'm about to get some new shoes, probably Nike again, though. 

I began running, not just after the bus, in March of 2011. That is when I began an excursion into something that has transformed into what I'm all about, now.

 I've run more than  400 miles since then. I now know Kelly Drive and the Schuylkill path like the back of my hand. 

What has led me here is the notion that people search for the thing that defines them in high school. They seek out the term, pastime or class subject that gives them a purpose. All teens do it. We just want to fit in. I guess you could define us all as "fit-iners".

Anyway, I'm not a basketball or softball star, though I love all sports. 

I am a runner. I am an athlete with a team that competes against no one. 

My playoffs are the training that goes toward the championship, running across a finish line. My practices consist of running, cross-training and, finally this year, speed work alongside 10 to 15 students in my high school that also just like running. 

 I won't say I live and breathe it; you can confirm by any student athlete that they sometimes are happy when practice is cancelled. That's the major difference though. It takes something pretty serious to cancel a running practice. It's an elected activity. If you want to do it, you'll make it happen.

 Since it's been a little more than a year that I began running, I've learned it's the sort of thing that never really gets old. It becomes a lifestyle with the gear and the diets and getting a birthday subscription to Runner's World magazine. 

 Friends say they could never just run because it's boring. Sometimes it is daunting because you are pushing yourself to physical limits. But that's life, right? If you want to run a 9-minute mile you'll figure out a way to do it. Thats the fun. 

I'm extremely competitive by nature, and what could be more challenging than competing against myself. 

Fast would not be a word to describe my running, but I'm working on it. Once you wrap your head around the idea that you physically can run the miles, then you can think about other things like running faster.

 It's the type of sport when, at the end of a run, the only thing you have to rely on are you and your legs to finish it out. It's possible to have a support system like my team and our adult mentors, but running for personal times or health is an individual task. 

So, it's been 400-plus miles and only one serious injury down. I'm hoping to keep this supremely optimistic outlook until I can qualify for the Boston Marathon, and I'm giving myself until I'm 25. 

 Lofty, I know, but that's what keeps it interesting. Sure, I will have to shave off 15 minutes every year from my marathon time starting with this year.

Watch out. It'll happen. 

 Contact Jenn Wright at jwright@scienceleadership.org