What It Feels Like to Be a State Cross Country Runner

Geneva Timmerman // As told to Gwyneth Schmidt


Photo by Kim Timmerman

Photo illustration by Gwyneth Schmidt. Geneva Timmerman runs at the Heartland Classic meet in Pella on Saturday, September 18th 2021.

My feet hit the squishy grass beneath me as I try to control my hard breathing. The mix of the chilly air and the warm sun feels nice on my skin, making every nerve-ending come alive. Energy is coursing through my body as I see the finish line come into view. I hear someone coming behind me. I sprint, testing my limits and speed. Thoughts race through my head as I try to tell myself, you’re fine, you’re not dying. I try to control my breathing, pulling in air through my nose and pushing it out of my mouth. The crowd cheers as I cross the finish line, my friends and family cheering and taking pictures; I wrap my arms around them and take in the moment. I’ve accomplished my goal: place second in state cross country. 

The satisfaction that I felt when I qualified for state was overwhelming. After all the chaos and stress that had been weighing me down before districts, I finally got to relax and tell myself, I’ve qualified. Work and willpower have gotten me through this season. I’ve constantly pushed myself to be the best I can be. Making it to state has shown me that it’s all been worth it; all the blood, sweat, and tears are what have gotten me to where I am. I trained all summer, prepping myself for the fast-paced season. In August, I started to work on speed; the meets were where I could test myself and see how far I had come. Each one I went to, I felt more motivated, confident, and focused on improving myself. I had to work just as hard on the mental aspect, constantly telling myself, you’re ok, and trying to keep the negative thoughts out of my head. Someday’s this was easier, like when I was running with girls that I knew. Other days, this was an uphill battle. 

People are what makes this all worth it. I’ve made so many new friends and been able to run with the top competitors. Ultimately, it makes me grow as a runner and a person. My confidence has grown so much since Freshman year, but the people are what makes it worth it. I’ve done all the work, running every day, planning out what my workout will look like for the day, and then going after school or in the morning. Running in the morning is my favorite; it’s so quiet and dark out that it’s a peaceful thing to do, the sun isn’t out, and there aren’t many people up. I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I like. For example, I would rather run with a friend to push myself and have someone to talk with!

After the training and hard work I put in this season, I’m happy that I achieved my goal of getting second in state. It made the pain and discomfort that I had to go through worth it. The best feeling was after the race when my adrenaline was running high; it was my favorite thing. So what’s next? You’ll have to wait and see what next year brings.