Haute Volée, Christine Babcock, was a high school and collegiate running phenom. She set the high school national record in the 1500m and 1600m and competed in the 2008 Olympic Trials in the 1500m. After graduating from high school, she continued on to the University of Washington and led the Washington Huskies to their first cross-country NCAA title finishing seventh overall at NCAA cross-country meet. Her standout performances in running are just a small part of what makes her such a wonderful person. For the past seven months, we’ve had the pleasure of working with Christine at the Nest. Her positive spirit and killer baking skills are paralleled to none. Despite setbacks in professional running, she has found that success can take many forms and that all things are possible with a team.
By: Christine Babcock
Going into freshman year of high school, I had a choice: do a sport or get a job. What seemed like a trite decision at the time has shaped the trajectory of my life. High school success opened the door to run in college. College led to the opportunity to join Project Little Wing and the ranks of professional running. While it wasn't the journey I thought I was embarking on when I made the decision to run, what a wild ride it has been!
Running has been a cornerstone in my life for the last 11 years. Despite injuries, endless hours of PT exercises, and heartache from unfulfilled dreams, the path to run always seemed clear. It is what I've known, what I've enjoyed, and what has given me more opportunities and friendships than I could ever have imagined. But sometimes events happen that question everything you have known and challenge you to the core.
For me this came in June. In the wake of a patient 16-month attempt to come back from a navicular stress fracture, a CT scan revealed it was still broken. Surgery loomed. The heartbreak was real, raw and left me feeling vulnerable. This was more than a running injury. It was the crossroads, the death of a dream that launched me into the unknown.
Originally, I was at what I believed was a fork in the road. Did I take the path that continued to be committed to running or was this the moment where I left my spikes at the fork and started new, leaving behind what I had known and discovering what life looked like without running? The weight of the decision was overwhelming. I felt an immense pressure to figure out what was next, to make a plan and start moving forward. The more emotional energy and thought I put into it, the more daunting the decision was.
What if I decided the wrong thing, choosing to go down one path and planning accordingly, only to end up where I didn’t want to be? For a few weeks, it was paralyzing. I hadn’t the slightest idea of what I wanted, and yet found myself believing I had to make a decision. I needed a plan. A plan that would provide direction, security, and ease the immense vulnerability I was feeling in the midst of the unknown.
Eventually I came to the realization that having a plan wasn’t going to fix anything. I needed to walk through this season of life not having a plan and being okay with not knowing. To acknowledge the feelings, vulnerability, and questions that living in the tension of the unknown ushered in. To find peace and joy in the midst of not having a neatly packaged answer of my future plans, for both life and running. To walk through the accompanying emotions and believe that I will be stronger for it. To not have all the answers and let the story unfold. For “when we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and…choose how this story ends.” (50). Brené Brown, Rising Strong
I am 6 months in and the story is still being written, but I am working on not denying it. To recognize it for what it is and engage with the ups and downs. To invite people in, even when it seems messy and incomplete. While I am tempted to believe it would be easier if I had it all figured out, the lessons I am learning in the meantime are invaluable.
One of the greatest gifts during this season has been the strength and encouragement that I have received from teammates, both past and present. When I graduated from college I remember mourning the loss of a team. I didn’t realize that when I joined Oiselle I was also receiving an invitation into a diverse, powerful, and inspiring community. I daily find strength and inspiration knowing that there are hundreds of women (and the few, faithful bro birds) on this journey with me, writing their own unique stories. To each of you, thank you for your support. For walking through this with me and giving me the courage to keep writing my story, no matter what it looks like.