How The Invitational Shaped My Running Career

I ran my first Invitational race nine years ago.

It was the Invitational 10 and I ran the JV Girls Blue race. I finished in 87th place with a time of 27:45. Coming from a small school in South Florida, this was the biggest race I had ever been to, and to this day, it is one of the most inspiring events that I have ever attended.

I remember watching the clock of each race before and after my own. Times of 19, 18, 17, minutes for the girls in a 5k. I didn't know much about running at the time, but can remember being mesmerized by these athletes. Their form and grit caught my attention, and it is a visual I will never forget.

I remember watching the girls invitational race. 18:58 won it that year. I thought to myself how cool it would be to be in this race, to be on the varsity team.

I remember watching the girls race of champions.There were seven girls sub 18 minutes that year. I thought to myself how awesome it would be if I could even be considered for the race of champions one day.

I remember watching the college women race. I remember thinking, I want to do this for the rest of my life. I have found my life-long sport.

At 11 years old I attended one of the biggest events I had ever experienced. It fostered dreams that became realities. That following year I ran in the small school race and placed 13th. The next year, I won the small school race. The two years after that I raced the race of champions, my personal best in the 5k still stands from this race.

Lauren Freshman spoke at the Invitational 10. Four years after hearing her speak, Lauren became one of my biggest role models and I would look to her attitude and influence in the running community for guidance.

The Invitational is "more than just another race," as Jason Byrne, Founder, would say. It is a meet that gives you a vision of who you can become.

With races and recognition at all levels, a central location, and a true cross country course, the Invitational is the premier in-season championship race.

Coaches and parents, give your athletes the gift of dreaming -- of envisioning who they can become and hearing from professional athletes who have been there. Sign up for the Invitational 19 today!