The Next Level Iowa: FAITH “Mogan Casey”

Morgan Casey now runs for Iowa State University

“A Passion For Running” by Morgan Casey

My senior year of high school I joined the ranks of many others such as myself who share a passion for running, and blogging about it. Occasionally I get a little personal, share a running story that’s maybe just a bit out there, but seeing as it’s only a select audience who cares to read what I have to say, they usually get it and just laugh along with me.
I guess entertainment is one of my goals in life. Isn’t that part of the reason we begin to run in the first place? A small part of us craves the limelight. We love the press coverage, the look of awe on people’s faces when they say “you ran TEN miles?,” and it’s no secret that as a high schooler running at Drake is cool, but it’s the sense of pride felt while hearing Mike Jay’s voice echoing your name throughout the stadium that really leaves a mark in your soul.

All of that has changed now that I have entered the realm of NCCA division I athletics. My high school PR in the 1500 would have been enough to earn me credit for an Iowa all-time best (had Katie Flood and Shelby Houlihan not also broken the record that same day) but now that PR is simply a stat in my bio on, and it is not nearly enough to garner media attention nor intimidate my competitors when we step to the line. You have to do something a little bigger to catch people’s eye these days.

It’s easy to fall into thinking that no one really cares, no one remembers your name, and that you’ll never see your name in the headlines again. Frankly, maybe they don’t and maybe you never will, but with that kind of attitude you’ll definitely not work your way back to the top.
Seeing THE NEXT LEVEL for the first time came at a good moment for me. My indoor season had just ended with conference two weeks ago, and while the meet went well for me, three of my team mates ran at nationals this weekend, and their accolades trump mine tenfold.
Those three girls have earned All-American honors multiple times. Dani Stack was the fastest collegian in the 10k at USA’s last summer, Betsy Saina became a NATIONAL CHAMPION on Friday, and Meaghan Nelson, a former Cedar Rapids Xavier athlete, was injured for the whole of last year, and came back to be a cross country All-American, and finish fourth in the 5k this weekend.
I run with these girls at practice. I have dinner with these girls on the weekends. We share the same locker room, do the same workouts, and even wear matching sweats and cuddle in bed together. (There’s me getting a little personal) They are my team mates, my friends, and my inspiration all at once.

While living in the shadow of Dani, Betsy, and Meaghan I could easily think to myself “Oh they are so fast, I wish I was the fast. I wish I was the one on the front page of the ‘Iowa State Daily.’ I miss running making me feel important.”

Instead of getting some cheese to go with my whine I look up to my friends, I respect them, and I let them motivate me. I am still green in my career as a collegiate athlete, but even Betsy “National Champion” Saina had to start somewhere. I see on THE NEXT LEVEL that there are still some people out there who remember the Iowa high school runners from way back when iPods couldn’t talk, and even if only one other person aside from my mom and grandpa read my blog that’s OK with me because I have served my purpose as an entertainer, and reaffirmed my confidence that the one person who needs to care how fast I run still cares A LOT. That person is me.
As long as there are personal records to be broken, races to be run, and the big question mark there each and everyday asking me “How fast can you run, Mo?” then I will continue to lace up my trainers and go entertain myself with a run because while pats on the back are nice, the thought that someone else is enjoying my running is nicer. The feeling of self accomplishment in my burning calves, joy in my sweating brow, and motivation in my blackened toenails  is superior to any “kudos to you” I’ve ever gotten.

The Next Level Iowa: FAITH “Betsy Flood”

Betsy Flood Captain University of Iowa Track Team

“God Made Me Be Able to Run” by Betsy Flood

My faith has played a really large role in my running career, especially in the past four years since being at Iowa.  Since being here, I have had the opportunity to be surrounded by some really inspiring Christians who have helped me to question the purpose of running and the purpose of life.  I can now say that my intentions are to live every part of my life for Christ, and since running is a large part of my life, it has been a really exciting journey to see what all I can attempt to do with this wonderful gift that God has given so many of my teammates and myself.
Running has never been something that has come easily to me, but it had never been so difficult until the past year.  I never realized how intensely failure on the track and cross-country course could effect my emotions!  I have never had so many awful races in a row until this year, and I also have never cried as many days as I have in the past year.  There have been lots of temptations to try to just take over and do everything on my own, at times I have even tried to do this, but am reminded that I can nothing on my own.  I actually do not know how I could have persevered through this with my faith.  Getting to go to church and worship or just having bible verses and people for constant encouragement has allowed me to remain hopeful that better things are to come, and to trust that God has a plan much greater than the plan I have for myself.  I have learned the importance of praising God when you feel joy and goodness, but I have also learned that he is the ONLY one true joy and that nothing on this earth can even compare to that.  This year has been lots and lots of disappointment and questioning but also has graced me with the chance to be more understanding, and humble. I have also been able to accept that nothing I do will make me any more worthy, but that the ‘great’ things I do are done through me by the Holy Spirit working inside.
So far in my life, running, though it is only the act of moving my legs, has brought me closer to God than any other factor.  It has taught me so much about life! It is a chance to make use of the physical body that is a gift, to experience the beautiful nature, and to directly glorify God through pouring your heart into something over and over again. The opportunities associated with running have allowed me to touch and be touched by a great magnitude of people. This year I have especially felt undeserving of all the love that has been showered on me. Christ’s love has been showered on me through the acts of so many others! Mother Theresa once said, “I can do no great thing, only small things with great love.”  This quote is just really wonderful to me! I recognize that I will never be the fastest in the world and maybe not even in a race, but I can take each day as a small opportunity to glorify God and make use of pouring love into the gifts he has given me.
My favorite bible verse is Romans 5:3-5.  “Not only so but we also glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  I pray that I may remember this for as long as this ‘suffering’ lasts, and to remain hopeful that the Lord has good things planned.  I am thankful that he has given me this gift, and I know whatever his plans are will be the ones most worth following.