I’m no athlete, but I love to run!

Cross Country, circa 1996. I'm in the lower left corner.

I was never a particularly athletic child.   Though adventurous by nature, a general lack of coordination combined with a well fed love of reading kept me on the sidelines from the usual team sports like soccer and softball.  I enjoyed playing basketball with friends but on the court, I was little more than flailing arms and legs.  Phys Ed classes were always a nightmare to me.  From volleyball to badminton, flag football to track, I just did not have what it took to be even moderately successful.  And thus when I was offered the opportunity to run competitively in high school instead of attending three more years of Phys Ed, you better believe I empahtically asked, “When do we start?”  After all, how hard could it be?  I literally could spend hours upon hours hiking.  In my mind, running was just really fast hiking.  Yeah.  That’s it:  really fast hiking…

How I survived my first week of training as a distance runner still escapes me.  I still remember coming home from the first day, red faced and dripping sweat from head to toe, so sore and stiff that the soft breeze from the ceiling fan hurt.  Eight miles in hill country.  EIGHT.  I had blisters instead of feet and there wasn’t one part of me that didn’t ache.  I was absolutely miserable and yet even as my eyes brimmed with tears as my mom attempted to rub out a cramp in my calf I had this image in my mind of an old mining stamp silhouetted against a brilliant golden sunset right at the moment when the choking heat of late afternoon in August becomes cool and sweet.  This single image brought me back day after day and even now, Seventeen years later, I can still feel that coolness, smell the dried grasses and the taste the dust. 

I have no tales of fantastic wins or accomplishments in Cross Country.  I was not a fast runner.  Efficient, yes but never fast.  Pacing at 8 to 9 minutes, I was in the middle of the pack at best but more often than not, closer to the rear.  Still, I lettered in the sport and even managed a personal best of 21 minutes on a 3 mile course in one of the last races of my senior year.  I genuinely loved to run and continued to do so even after I graduated but as my adult life became filled with work, school, family (both canine and human) I stopped.  It wasn’t a conscious decision but it is one that I regret. I decided to change that in March of 2011.

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