Run, Natalie, Run!
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She stepped up onto the blocks with adrenaline rushing through her whole body. She crouched down, with her legs ready to stride forward and get a lead between all the other runners. She slowly took a deep breath and exhaled as the starter brought up his arm and shot the gun for the race to begin, and the race began.
Natalie Nowatzke, 12, has been running competitively since she was eight years old. Her love and passion for running developed in her hometown, Eugene, Oregon, which is known as “Track Town” USA. “Oregon was where everything started for running and where I first realized this is what I love to do,” said Nowatzke.
As captain of the girls cross country team, Nowatzke believes it is her responsibility to stay positive before races to encourage others. “Even as hard as it can be, I need to stay positive before races and hard workouts to push the other girls and set a good example throughout the team,” she said.
Despite her positive mindset, she has had several injuries that set her back from performing to the best of her ability or even getting the chance to race with the rest of the girls. “I have never been through a season without at least one injury,” said Nowatzke. “It can be hard watching the rest of the girls race [while] I have to sit on the sidelines.” Nowatzke tries her best to keep pushing through these obstacles and never stops training.
While Nowatzke loves the feeling of running, she specifically relishes the feeling of crossing the finish line after races. “I love running so much,” said Nowatzke. “Nothing feels better than crossing the finish line after a long race and seeing your new [personal record] on the time board.” Though her individual performance is important, Nowatzke values her team as well. “Some races aren’t always the best and we don’t perform the way we would have liked, but it’s always more comforting when everyone around you is so supportive and encouraging,” she said.
Nowatzke recently committed to Winona State University to run on their Division II Women’s Cross Country and Track Team for her next four years of college. “Running for the next four years will be super great because it is helping me pay for a lot of college, and I love it so I think it will really enhance college for me,” said Nowatzke. Though she doesn’t plan on pursuing a career in running, she hopes to be a lifelong runner after college.
Using all the hardships she went through in highschool and all the support she received from teammates, friends, and coaches, Nowatzke is ready to start a new chapter of her running game.