The Sunday before the Greater Western Ohio Cross Country Championships was a day like any other for Taylor Ewert, really. It was driven by routine.
The 16-year-old from Beavercreek High School was up at 7 a.m. She went downstairs to her kitchen table, poured a dollop of oatmeal in the bowl she liked, and then paired it with some water and coffee. To her right was some light reading, the training journal which she had written in daily for the past 10 months.
Weeks earlier, meets had been highlighted and bolded and then colored, with goal times replaced by actual results, some of which were personal records.
And Ewert was a stickler for procedure. The training log not only was her daily planner, but her guide to future success. Being the daughter of an engineer and a physical therapist, who were former collegiate runners at Syracuse University, she knew that in order to improve she had to plan, and both of her parents were like human calendars.
In essence, the blonde-haired high school junior had taken their best traits. Highly driven like her father, the retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, and compassionate and genuine like her mother. She was richly competitive, too, like both of them.
Scribbled in big bold letters was "GWOC," the conference championship race on Saturday. A year earlier, Ewert had finished fourth at this meet, then followed with a fourth-place outing at Districts, a third-place finish at Regionals and then another third-place outing at State.
But a year ago, she was also not the same athlete. Back then, she was still considered more of a race walk champion than the nationally elite distance runner she had now become. She had not yet won a truly big race, nor had she qualified for Nike Cross Nationals. She also had yet to fully figure out the steeplechase.
All those things would come her sophomore year, in the kind of nonstop rush that she rarely had time to think about. But by now, as Division I college coaches were calling and gushing over her future, she knew she was so much more than a race walker.
Ewert looked at the journal, studied it over her oatmeal, then readied for her next task.
Like most Sundays, she was focused on progression, so she slipped on black compression tights, grabbed a quarter-zip and then a pair of race walk flats. She called for her mother.
"Are you ready?" she asked.
"Let me just get the bike," her mother, Teri, responded.
And just like that, Ewert and her mother were off on the road together, the morning sun barely risen. The teenager knew she needed to get her weekly race walk training in.
There was no changing that, she thought.
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