Ohio was the second state I ran in and the first state I experimented with running as a way to relieve stress. I wouldn’t have called myself a runner when I attended Wittenberg University in Ohio but I knew people who were. I also needed running as something just for me. Running was a way to counteract both the gluttony of the cafeteria and the lack of personal space that comes with having a roommate for the first time. My freshman year roommate and I couldn’t have been more different. I was liberal, Madison Wisconsin, energized to major in East Asian Studies fresh from four years of Japanese language and a summer study abroad. My roommate was Cleveland suburbs, and her father had just been fired “because of a Japanese company.” In turn, her family wouldn’t let Japanese cars park in their driveway and didn’t understand my desire to learn a foreign language. We were in America and should speak American, she said. Needless to say she hated all the Japanese-made Hello Kitty stuff I lugged in, including a neon kitty face I posted over her bed. One morning I woke up to her mom blow-drying her hair at my bedside while my roommate whispered “don’t wake Katie.” It was the first time I woke up, got dressed, and went for a run with no steps, stretches or snacks in between. I did it because I had to get out. Since that day I’ve gotten up and gone for a run because it seemed like the only answer and the only thing I knew how to do. Running isn’t always the answer but it is the first step.


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