By Natalie Butz
When she was in high school, senior Diane Hagmann struggled to finish a 400-meter dash. But last Saturday, not only did she run a half-marathon, she also finished first in her age group.
Hagmann joined her high school track team on a whim. She quickly switched to track and field when she could barely finish one lap. But she built her endurance during the summer and returned to the track team in the fall, spending the next three years as a winter sprinter.
“I returned the next year all the more determined and decided to run both winter and spring track,” she said.
Hagmann quit track the spring of her senior year in high school but continued to run over the summer and into her freshman year at WC.
“During fall break that first year, I decided to go running, just for two miles, and I ran into my high school coach. She was blown away by my progress. She told me my stride was longer and much stronger and I was better than a lot of the girls currently on her team,” she said.
Her old coach’s words of encouragement were enough to catapult Hagmann back into running. She continued to run during her off-season for crew. In the beginning, it was just a light run. She also ran a 5K every year, just to prove to herself she could.
But this past summer, Hagmann decided to push herself even further. Setting her sights on the half-marathon in Chestertown, Hagmann started training as soon as spring finals were over. Then, after realizing the Chestertown race would fall on the same day she had to present the results of her summer research, Hagmann was forced to cut three weeks off her already-rigorous 12-week training schedule in order to participate in Chester’s Run For Shelter.
It turned out to be worth it though. Run for Shelter not only allowed Hagmann to run along the Chesapeake Bay and overlook local wetlands, but her participation benefitted Our Haven Shelter in Queen Anne’s County. Finishing the 13.1-mile race in a little over 2 hours, Hagmann was also ranked first in her age group.
Both the distance and time were considerable milestones for Hagmann.
“In high school, I was always counting down the laps until we finished—and that’s only 400 meters each. Now, I’m counting miles. And before, it was such a relief when I was done. Now, I’m always looking for the next mile.”
Hagmann credits her success in part to being on the women’s crew team.
“It’s very motivating. You always hear someone say that they ran six miles or something that day, and it fuels the competitive urge in you. When we go running together, we push each other and keep each other going when we need to.”
But she also admits that the social aspect of running is very different from the social aspect of crew.
“As a rower, you have to depend on several other rowers. It’s very much a team sport. With running, it’s all you. But it’s amazing how you’re influenced by the people around you when you run. I’ve had some races, especially 5Ks, where I was pooping out. When the other runners and the volunteers on the side see that, they always say, ‘you can do it,’ or ‘you’ve done so well, just a little bit more.’ They really push you on. Crew is a positive sport. Girls and coaches are very encouraging. It’s just a different mindset and a different tone of voice during a regatta.”
Hagmann plans to keep running in the future, and as she looks ahead towards life after college, she can see how running has prepared her.
“[Running] gives you such a sense of accomplishment. It teaches you to push yourself and see how far you can go. It teaches you to confront an obstacle that seems insurmountable, like 13 miles, and just go for it. I’m not intimidated by long distances anymore. The way I see it, it’s taught me to push through tough times and made me stronger both mentally and physically.”