Nurul Lastriana (INA YES to USA YP 17–18)
The skyscrapers, traffic, and city lights are probably the things that pop up in our minds after hearing a word “America”. But Tillamook is totally different. Tillamook is where a view of the sea is something that I wake up to, where the cows wave me goodbye after school, and where Tillamook ice cream is something I have for breakfast. It’s just been almost 3 months here, but it feels like forever. I feel like I have been here for so long. Maybe because the people are warm and welcoming, maybe because the cheese and ice cream are too good, or maybe because, just because.
I still remember the time when I was writing my personal goals on my exchange year. One of them is improving physical activities. Before the school started, my host mom suggested me to join one of the sports clubs here. Actually, I’m not a sporty person, I have to admit that I’m a lazy and dull person. My kind of perfect day is chilling in the coach, binge-watching cheesy movies, or reading some kind of psychological thriller novels. After spending some time to think what sports club should I choose, I finally pick Cross Country for my summer sport. According to Wikipedia, Cross Country is a sport in which teams and individuals run a race on open-air courses over natural terrain such as dirt or grass. The course, typically 4–12 kilometres (2.5–7.5 mi) long, may include surfaces of grass, and earth, pass through woodlands and open country, and include hills, flat ground and sometimes gravel road. It seems fun and doesn’t need many techniques like any other sport. Well, at least that’s what I was thinking about.
The first day of practice. Honestly, I was dying. It’s 1000x harder than I thought it would be. I just ran for 5 minutes but I felt like death was in front of me. I was so out of shape, of course, because simply I seldom do exercise. And at that time, I regretted not doing good on my Physical education class at school back home and for denying my mom’s invitation to go jogging every Sunday morning. I couldn’t keep out with my team mates. Most of them have been doing this for years and here I am, my very first time of participating in a sport team. But fortunately, my coach, Patrick Zweifel, really understand my condition and told me to take it easy. I didn’t do as much as the others do. But day by day, my duration kept improving and I felt better. Less than a month from my first practice, there’s the first race in Tillamook that called “Ultimook Race”. I couldn’t participate because I went to Sunriver with my host family and my friend from Jordan, Zaina. I wasn’t ready to run in the mud and cross the cold river, though.
And then there’s another race not long after that. I was so nervous, I couldn’t sleep the night before. Just kidding, I fall asleep easily. I was just worried what if I end up being the last one.
The race held at Wilsonville High School on August 25th. 30 minutes before the race started, Phoebe Brown, one of the Girls’ Captain accompanied me to warm up and told me it’ll be fun and not stressful. That’s actually calmed me down.
The trigger was pulled. I ran with other novice participants. I tried as hard as I can but still, I was struggling. I stopped for several times to catch my breath but I kept running because my friends cheered at me and my coach told me to keep going as he took some photos of me.
Don’t laugh. I know I look terrible in that picture. But I look really working hard, obviously. I finished this 3000 meters course in 21 minutes. It’s not as bad as I thought and I wasn’t the last one. It was fun!
The next race was more challenging. It was 5000 meters course. But this time I felt better because I already knew it would be fun. This one was held at Meriwether Golf Club. The course was basically grass with some hills. Different than this one, the third race was held at Camp Magruder. The course was mostly sandy. I was struggling because it’s hard for me to run on the sand. I felt like my feet just really heavy. Surprisingly, we had to run up the huge hill. I finished this race in 36 minutes. But again, I was glad because I didn’t end up being the last one.
The fourth race was at Heiser Farm. This race was kind of earlier than the other races before. But an unexpected thing happened. It was pouring down rain when I started running. I felt so cold and hot at the same time. I almost couldn’t feel my hands. I wore long pants, as usual, and I had to run through the water pit. My pants were soaked. Another fun fact, I didn’t bring extra clothes or socks. I just brought flip flops because I thought it’s gonna be a nice and sunny day. Fortunately, as soon as I passed the finish line, my friend, Marissa Velazquez gave me her blanket so I didn’t shiver so bad.
I never thought that it’s gonna be my last race. I couldn’t run at District because my shins hurt so bad. And I didn’t run for the State, of course. The season is over and I just can’t get over it. This sport taught me a lot. For me personally, it’s about keeping up with my own goal, trying to do better and better each day, trying to stay positive and realistic at the same time, as well as keep going and not giving up. The whole team also helped me improving, we’re together as one, we are “Familia”. One thing for sure, I will miss Cross Country so bad once I get back home.