Park City senior Sydney LaPine ready to finish strong on the cross-country course
When Sydney LaPine was growing up, running was what her family did. In the third grade, LaPine remembers her parents going for long runs and asking if she wanted to join, to which she would reply with an emphatic “yes.”
Nine years later, the Park City High School senior is still running on the Miners’ girls cross-country team.
“I knew I wanted to run for the high school so it was just waiting till I was in the ninth grade and could do so,” said LaPine, who moved to Park City from Bend, Oregon, in sixth grade. “But it’s definitely been a roller coaster ride since running in high school. … From a great freshman year to a rough sophomore year and injuries during my junior year, it’s been rough and fun at the same time.”
LaPine wasn’t joking when she was talking about the rough times.
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After a freshman campaign in which LaPine showed great promise according to coach Steve Cuttitta, the next two years were filled with mental and physical pain.
Her sophomore year, LaPine was unable to make gains on her runs and in training as she battled stress fractures in her shin. Regardless of how hard or long she trained, LaPine never saw the results pan out, which left her struggling mentally. Then, in her junior year, she entered a dark place as another stress fracture left her unable to compete for the Miners once again.
“It was bad, really bad for me because I just didn’t know what to do without running,” LaPine said. “It honestly felt like a part of me of me was missing. …What I used as an outlet to relieve stress and get my head right was taken away and I felt lost.
“It was all really hard to deal with and almost led to something that I would’ve regretted for sure if I would’ve done it.”
This past winter, after not being able to run for the Miners, LaPine seriously considered giving up running. According to her, she wasn’t having any fun and it was becoming more of a burden to her. Despite getting healthy enough to go for minimal runs, those would often leave LaPine with heavy legs and severely out of breath, things she was not accustomed to.
But a conversation between LaPine’s dad and Mac Brown of the Park City Hospital’s LiVe Well Center in late spring of this year changed everything for her. Through the encouragement of Brown and the stubbornness of her dad, LaPine went and got her blood tested.
“Brown said we should get my blood tested because he said, based on my issues, that it sounded like I could have iron deficiency problems,” LaPine said. “Once we got the results and figured out that’s what the problem was, it was such a massive relief. I mean, I knew what was causing my recovery issues and probably led to the injuries, but now it was fixable so the feeling was indescribable.”
Despite the results of the test, LaPine still took a month off before the beginning of summer. But before she got back into running, LaPine began taking iron pills three times a day and started to feel like her old self again.
Now she’s back to running hard and pushing herself past her own limitations. She’s feeling sore and tight again, but for all of the right reasons.
“It was so great because I got to run two-a-days all summer and finally felt right again, like I did my freshman year,” LaPine said. “I love to run again, and I’m finding myself with the ability to kick late in races instead of barely being able to finish. It’s hard not to think about what could’ve been if I would’ve figured this out earlier, but I’m just so happy to be back that I don’t care about the past.”
LaPine recently took seventh at the Timpview Invite on Oct. 2, setting a personal record by finishing the 5,000-meter race in 19 minutes and 32.7 seconds. In her final season as a Miner, LaPine is hoping to lead Park City to the state tournament, a race she believes would be the ultimate ending point for her high school career.
“I’m feeling a whole lot better and my training is now really paying off,” LaPine said. “We have a really solid group of girls, so I’m excited for the region and state championships. I think we really have a great chance to do well, and for me personally, I just want to continue to get faster and enjoy the end of this.”
Editor’s note: Sydney LaPine is a news intern for The Park Record.
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