Many of you are probably familiar with Declan Dahlberg's Run, Write, Repeat column. When I discovered it, I was ecstatic-even envious-to read the perspective of a fellow Minnesota high school runner throughout the cross country and track seasons. Doing what Declan did last year seemed like a combination of two of my great loves: running and writing. Even my mom said, "Maddy, you should do that, too!" So after learning that Run, Write, Repeat would end as the 2018 track season came to a close, I reached out to see if I could carry on the mantle and author a similar column this year. Thus, Miles With Maddy was born.
Unlike Declan, I'm no household name. My biggest claim to fame is getting interviewed by Milesplit in 2014 after I won the Girls Open Black Race at Nike Heartland Regionals. My name is Maddy Lawler, and I run for Edina High School. My perfect run would be at 8:30 in the morning in the summer, under a dark overcast sky, nine miles along the Paul Bunyan trail between Jenkins and Nisswa. It would be 70 degrees, and for the last mile it would downpour. My favorite pre-race food is McCann's Instant Irish Oats oatmeal and my favorite post-run food is an egg sandwich. I drink black coffee and I try whenever possible to run in Mizunos. I am going into my senior year at Edina and my sixth years of cross country, nordic skiing, and track. As an eager eighth grader, I discovered Milesplit and, under the tutelage of some of the older girls, came into my own as what might be gently termed a "stats enthusiast."
Part of what has inspired my passion has been my exposure to the amazing Minnesota distance running community and the champion culture of the Edina distance program, both in cross country and track. I'm so lucky to be part of a team that, in the past four years, has produced two State Championship and two State runner-up teams, two Region champs, and three NXN showings in cross country. In track, Edina distance has also garnered two State titles, an individual State champion in two events, and a State record for the 4x800. Though for years I raced mostly JV, nothing was - or is - more exciting, motivating, or awe-inspiring than what the team has accomplished.
My love for the sport extends beyond on-paper successes, though. As most people reading this will no doubt understand, for me there is nothing like running; nothing that is simultaneously so mental and so physical, so hard and yet so fun. No matter how fast or slow you are, any runner can fondly rattle off a story of a time when they pushed themselves into extraordinary pain. I will always remember a workout I did way back in 2014, in the mud and cold, pouring rain. Slipping and sliding around a field riddled with pits that our coach Matt Gabrielson told us would "be our graves after this workout," I still remember the way pain dissipated into satisfaction as I wiped the face of my watch clean to see I'd hit a pace right on. The best part of cross country to me is that so many others have felt and will feel the same way.
That incredible work ethic is the backbone of running, and part of what I seek to capture in this column. From instant phenoms and incremental improvers, to those struggling with injuries or plateauing times, every runner is out there logging hours of training. As someone who put in years of work before tangible results manifested, I believe the stories of dedicated the everyday athletes who plug away in their training day after day are as important and inspiring as those of gifted athletes who work hard to elevate their talent to an elite level.
One of the greatest examples I've seen of this type of dedication is my teammate Anna Hage (class of '17). Anna put in the work on JV for years until she blossomed her junior year. She destroyed her previous PRs, dropping 35 seconds in the 1600 from her sophomore year, and in senior year was a part of the state-winning 4x800 team in track. On the other end of the spectrum, watching 2018 Edina graduate Emily Kompelien grow from a talented runner into an absolute legend who went undefeated her senior track season was nothing short of delicious, and a lesson in the grace and kindness of a true champion.
These are just a few of the types of stories I would love to highlight in this column, in addition to some of my own personal experiences and interests. In the five whole years I've been a part of the Minnesota distance running community, I'm happy to have witnessed so many great moments in the sport. From Wayzata's 2013 NXN win to the emergence of the Pings to Emily Covert's 3200 record in 2018 track, every year brings something new. 2018 and 2019 look poised to do so as well, and I'm excited to be able to shed some light on stories and topics that might otherwise get overlooked. I hope that every runner who reads part of this column can see some part of their experience reflected in what I write, as well as take something new from reading. If you have a story that you feel is worth sharing, I want to tell it. If you have something to say, I want to help get it out there. Please feel free to reach out to me if there is anything you feel should be recognized, if there are any issues you're passionate about, or if you just have something to say. Don't be afraid to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Have a great season!