As a freshman runner on Minnesota's women's cross country team, Lisa Remark had hopes that her fifth and final year was going to be the year where she really asserted herself on the course.
"It just kind of proves that you can't really plan out everything," Remark said.
Beset by a series of injuries, Remark has seen little course time in her career for the Gophers, running in just 14 races. But, in between all those injuries, a funny thing happened.
Remark was named one of the team's captains in 2004, a post she has held ever since, and has proved to be an asset to the team in areas not necessarily found in the race results.
"You want to be that one who's contributing on the course and being (in the) top five runners and scoring points for the team and doing all that stuff," Remark said. "But I think at a certain point you just kind of realize that that may not be what I'm on the team for."
Of course, the role of off-course leader isn't one Remark had hoped for, at least at first. Rather, she was forced into it as a result of all the injuries she has suffered.
Remark has had stress fractures in both femurs. The first, in her right femur, caused her to redshirt her sophomore season in 2003. The second, in her left femur, was suffered at the end of June and has limited her to competing in just one race this year.
She also had a stress fracture in her foot in the spring of 2005.
Remark said the injuries, all of which have occurred during training, have been anything but easy to overcome.
"(Cross country is) something that you train for so hard," she said.
"You train and then (get injured) in your cross training trying to get back to where you were before and it seems like just when you kind of start to kind of cross that bridge, it happens again so you're back down at the beginning."
But, almost in the same breath, Remark called those injuries a blessing in disguise. This is because of the lessons they have taught her - such as the ability to persevere - which she's passed along to the team's underclassmen.
"I told a lot of the younger runners," Remark said, "that if this team didn't mean as much as it does to me I wouldn't be here for five years. I would have given it up the first time I got a stress fracture or even the second time."
And those younger runners have been happy to have
someone like Remark at their disposal.
Sophomore Gabriele Anderson said a runner like Remark is particularly helpful because she knows about things like rehabilitation and cross training - not just, as Anderson said, "coming in and running."
"Her presence is definitely felt just as much as any of our top runners," Anderson added. "She has that much of an influence over our runners."
Remark also has almost as much of an influence as the team's coaches. In fact, to hear coach Gary Wilson tell it, Remark is a coach in everything but title.
Wilson credited Remark's ability to organize, oversee the younger runners and be proactive in team matters.
However, as much as Remark said she enjoys her role, that doesn't mean she's lacking in desire to get back on the course.
Remark ran two kilometers of this past weekend's six-kilometer women's race at the Roy Griak Invitational and she said she's working to get back into a couple more races at the end of the year, a possibility Wilson called "thrilling."
She knows she won't be in top shape, but she said she still wants to run them for herself.
After all Remark has given to the team, that sounds like a fair request.
"I'm not sure if we're going to ever have a person like her on this team again," Anderson said.
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