Printed with permission of Daniela Quintero

Daniela Quintero ’22

Soccer was our first sport for a long time. Natalia and I started playing when we were 3 and 4-years-old and later decided to join a club running team when we were 7 and 8 respectively. My parents and coaches always knew we had some sort of talent in running, but I personally was not totally sold on the sport. It made me so nervous. I was so scared to lose, and as a soccer player, the sprints we did at the end of practice always seemed like a punishment; the idea of putting myself in that type of pain for a long time did not sound convincing. But our dad insisted that we try it.

We started to see some success in our running immediately, but we knew we were still doing it as a way to build endurance for soccer. For a long time, I really saw no future in running just because my whole life had revolved around soccer, and it was something that I never imagined stopping.

The first time I realized running was my sport was in seventh grade when I set a national age group record in the 3K. I have never looked back from there. It came to my surprise, but I realized how passionate I was for the sport. We stopped playing club soccer a few years ago to dedicate most of our athletic endeavors to running.

For me, the most special part about my running journey has been my family’s involvement and my ability to do it with my sister. Ever since we first started running, my sister and I have always trained together, and that has become a big part of why we love it. We are both pretty competitive, and although we still have that competitive edge, we know how lucky we are to be training partners. Being able to work together and help each other has been a major reason for our successes.

We know when we are each having a bad day and try to motivate each other through workouts and races. It definitely helps when we encourage each other. We are so lucky that we share this similar passion because it brings out the best in each of us. We love ranking our pre-run kombuchas, finding new trails to run on together, eating açai bowls and drinking smoothies after a sunny, long run. This past year, running has been the highlight of most of our days. Running is our outlet, allowing us to disconnect from school and our social lives each day.

The second-most special part about running is the community; there is nothing like it. It’s truly a privilege to be a part of such a supportive community. Regardless of what team you are on, how fast you are going, what place you are in, there is always someone rooting for you. It is unusual to have that in other competitive sports. Aside from being fortunate enough to receive medals and ribbons through running, we have met some of our closest friends. This year has been a struggle for everyone trying to navigate the new realities, but having a team to lean back on and feel supported by is irreplaceable.

Natalia Quintero ’21

There are so many reasons why I love running. I like how strong I feel most days after a good run and how humbled I feel after the tough ones. 

This sport is just as much mental as it is physical; there is a sense of inner peace even while I am trying to balance the turmoil of external pain. The moment you start running, you have the opportunity to escape your daily life no matter how great or bad it may be.

You are responsible for how well you run. You are your own cheerleader. You get to explore the Golden Retriever side of yourself. Then come all the benefits after those runs—the feeling of achievement, the physical high, mental calm and the surplus energy I feel the rest of the day and into the next. Lastly, but most importantly, I love to run because of the people I am surrounded by. 

Having your best friends on the line next to or behind you is a source of comfort that is inexplicable, and when life gets difficult or stressful, having teammates is such a valuable support system. 

It makes this sport so worth it when you’re able to socialize and have fun with them after a long day but also work hard together to achieve a common goal. It’s honestly the best to have a sister I am both incredibly close to who also happens to run. 

Whenever one of us is going through a tough time athletics-wise, it is always great having each other for encouragement when it is needed. Since the very beginning of this pandemic, it is easier to go and work out because we hold each other accountable when feeling unmotivated. I also absolutely love having someone to run with while listening to music and discovering new trails.

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