You know you're a different breed of athlete when you wear a T-shirt emblazoned with "My sport is your sport's punishment."
This particular breed is that of cross country runner.
The T-shirt message was a popular one Saturday at Masterson Station Park, site of the Henry Clay Invitational.
"I love that quote because it's true," said Adrian Lyttle, a Tates Creek junior who won the boys' race. "I'll have some of the football players come into class saying 'Oh, my gosh, we had to run so much yesterday.' Then I'll ask them, 'Did you run 10 miles?'
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"They go, 'Shut up, Adrian.' So it's kind of funny — we get a lot of respect as cross country runners. We really do come out here, we work very hard in the middle of the heat and early-morning practices."
The work is a year-round labor of love.
Like the thoroughbreds raised here, cross country has a breed that is born to run.
In Lyttle's case, he prepared for courses over hill and dale by spending most of his summer on an oval.
"He worked a lot on his own, ran the USA Junior track," Coach Chris Humboldt said. "Ran some 1:57 800s and, when we started practice, he was ready to go."
Most of Lyttle's teammates were running six or seven miles a day.
As the summer season wound down, Lyttle increased his mileage to 3 and 4 miles, then 6, 8 and, finally, 10.
"It was really fun getting ready for this race," he said.
While running is a means to an end in some sports, running is cross country's end.
Lafayette sophomore Mia Cornette, who won the girls' race at Masterson Station, trains year round. She has gone from cross country to indoor track, outdoor track, summer training and back to cross country.
As for summer training, "I did a whole bunch. Our whole team did," Cornette said. "We all worked together. I went to running camp this year — the Morehead State cross country camp — and that was the best. All the girls there were so sweet and we all helped each other. I came back and I was running really well, so I was happy."
Cornette's physical stature defies her ability to run long distances at a fast pace. That requires strength and endurance, not necessarily size.
At 15, she weighs 85 pounds and was told recently by her doctor that she measures 4-foot-113⁄8.
"He had to add in the little three-eighths because, I don't know, he just wanted to taunt me or something," she said with a laugh.
She jokes about not being able to run middle school races anymore, "which I miss because I like running with all the girls that are my height."
There's no joking about running, though.
Cornette, who won Saturday's race by more than a minute, is determined to break 19 minutes for 5,000 meters (3.1 miles) this season.
That will require many more miles. Lafayette, which won the girls' team title Saturday, also has prepared all summer.
"They focused on just getting some long, slow runs in and doing a lot of team-bonding stuff," Coach Tom Stickel said. "We went to King's Island together and a lot of things like that. More just a lot of group runs and meeting at different places, different parks, to try to keep it interesting and exciting for them."
The Lafayette girls' workouts usually drew 15 to 20 runners and averaged about 7 or 8 miles a workout.
"It's nice when you can finally get them to the point where you say 'eight or nine (miles) today' and they just kind of take it as 'oh, OK,'" Stickel said. "You want to get that mindset where that's just a routine and just go at it."
For sport, not punishment.