RICHLAND -- The first thing you need to know about Sidney Bullock is she loves to run. Not to the mailbox or the mall, or even easy evening jogs, but hard workouts -- 7, 10 miles long.
The second thing you should know about Sidney is she loves to run. In her younger years, she wore a path in the grass along the fence of the family's West Richland home running countless laps. More than once, she has woken her father from a deep sleep around midnight because she hasn't gotten in her daily miles.
The third thing you need to know ... you get the picture.
"Running is so good for me," said the Richland freshman who consistently has run No. 3 on the Bombers' cross country team since midway through the season. "It helps. Everything works so well. I breathe so well."
That's something else you should know about Sidney. Along with a crazy love of running and a serious competitive streak, a self-described shy complex (though she talks very freely about a lot of subjects) and an obvious stubbornness, Sidney Bullock also has cystic fibrosis.
If it seems counterintuitive that someone with a genetic disease affecting the lungs is one of the area's top young runners, that's because it is. Sidney is rare. Local coaches can't remember another runner with CF competing.
"No one told me not to," Sidney said. "They didn't put limits on me."
A two-time Titanium Man Junior Triathlon runner-up, Sidney will push the limits again today at the Eastern Washington 3A and 4A regionals at Wandermere Golf Course in Spokane.
With the top three teams and top 15 individuals advancing to state, the Richland girls team and Sidney have a shot at running next weekend in Pasco.
"I want to make it to state," she said. "I'd be really happy."
Not out of the question, said her coach, Jay Bartlett.
"She's an extremely hard worker, and she was very, very consistent in the summer," he said. "I didn't know what I was getting with her. I coached her older sister for four years, and McKenzi is one of my favorite kids. (Sidney) is a chip off her older sister."
McKenzi is the reason Sidney got into running. She was in the fifth grade when her sister started running cross country.
"In the fifth grade, I was getting lapped in the mile," she said. "I was the slowpoke."
But when she started running daily with big sis: "I loved every second of it. Because Kenzi did it, I loved it.
"I had the mindset that I was going to be good at this. It's that childish thing -- I'm going to be good at this because this is your sport."
By the time she reached seventh grade, she was one of the area's best distance runners her age. And that's when she met someone better.
Lindsey Bradley and Sidney were teammates running track and cross country at Enterprise Middle School. Even then, Bradley was a veteran of junior triathlons and distance races.
"I thought: 'She is not that much faster. I can catch her,' " Sidney said. "And I've stuck with her."
Bradley has distinguished herself as one of the top runners in the state, period, with a third-place finish at the Richland Invite among the highlights of her freshman year at Richland. She was the lure that got Sidney running junior triathlons -- guess who beat Sidney in the Junior Titanium Man the last two years.
"She makes me do the impossible," Sidney said. "She makes me do so many things I never would have attempted.
"Lindsey's the best medicine."
Running is good medicine for Sidney as well. Cystic fibrosis causes a thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs. One of the daily treatments is to wear a vibrating vest that shakes loose the mucus in the chest. However, the jarring action of activities such as running can work just as effectively.
Sidney said that in the years since she started running, her lungs are healthy and she might have to use the vest two or three times a week for 30 or 60 minutes.
Another important factor is nutrition. The mucus obstructs the pancreas and affects digestion. While training, Sidney needs about 4,000 calories a day and a high-fat diet.
Getting her nutrition figured out was one of the reasons she made a big jump toward the end of September, when she went from flirting with making the varsity seven to being the No. 3 runner behind Bradley and sophomore Lauren Perry.
Also, she discovered a secret weapon: "Darigold chocolate milk -- whole milk."
Sidney is the third of four children born to Dave and Suzie Bullock. McKenzi graduated in 2009 and is attending BYU. Daughter Bailey, born a year after McKenzi, also had CF and died of meningitis at age 5. The youngest, 12-year-old Jake, prefers to do his running on the basketball court.
The family calls Bailey a blessing. Having already had one child with CF, the Bullocks knew their other kids had a 25 percent chance to have the disease and got them tested right away.
Mom and dad find Sidney's running an inspiration.
"Most people hate to run," Dave said. "You see these T-shirts at races -- my sport is your sport's punishment."
"She's my hero," Suzie said. "I think that by doing this, she can bring hope to other kids."
"I started out a gangly little kid," Sidney said. "You just go out and do it.
"I started out a little chunky kid. I was never coordinated enough to do basketball. But running -- determination is enough to get better."
And something else you should know about Sidney -- she's got oodles of that.
* Kevin Anthony: 509-582-1403; firstname.lastname@example.org
When, where: 1:30 p.m. today, Wandermere Golf Club, Spokane
On to state: Top 3 teams and top 15 individuals
CWAC/GNL 2A regional
When, where: 1:40 p.m. today, Plantes Ferry, Spokane Valley
On to state: Top 5 teams and 25 individuals
SCAC 1A district
When, where: Noon today, Apple Ridge, Cowiche
On to state: Top 3 boys teams and 15 individuals, top 2 girls teams and 10 individuals