Thursday, January 29, 2015

A few words about my running

When I was in eighth grade, I got this hair-brained idea to join the track team. I was currently a dancer—ballet, tap, and jazz—but not an athlete in the traditional sense. This notion was coming out of nowhere.

I remember I was in Suzette's basement slumber partying it, when I made my announcement and the room about imploded. I was skinny then like I am now, and my friends were convinced that this would kill me. It makes me smile to think about it now, but at the time it ticked me off and it cemented my resolve.

What I didn't know at the time was that those months on the team were going to be my first brush with divine intervention.

I do not remember how it was decided that I would be a long distance runner. Our first meet was at the high school track in town. My parents were there cheering me on into last place.

We got home and standing in the kitchen my mom announced that she'd been to the doctor that day and they'd found a lump...

On her lung.

It wasn't cancer, but it needed to be removed and surgery would be in a few days. The room nearly imploded again.

Here's the divine intervention: Track practice, my friends on the team, the bus rides to other schools kept my mind busy through my mom's unbelievable diagnosis, tortuous surgery, and painstaking recovery.

I cry thinking about Katie's mom. I'd hear her voice yelling my name. She cheered me on as a proxy for my mom who was recuperating at home.

The season came to a close. I never placed. I came in last or second to last. Every. Single. Time.

But I showed up. I was at every practice. I listened to the coaches. I did the work. That's the gist of the speech the coaches made to the entire team when our season was over. All these years later, I feel good about showing up, persevering, and not doing it just for the win. I am also grateful that it helped me moderate my worries over having a sick parent.

It was with some trepidation that I put the 5k race on the 4040 list. There would be RUNNING. A LONG DISTANCE. Why was I agreeing to do this again when the first time hadn't been particularly successful?

Well, I like a challenge. I know hard things are good for me. And I loved the idea of my beloved, funny, endearing brother-in-law (B-I-L) agreeing to run it with me. I cried when he confirmed he would run or walk the entire race by my side instead of meeting me at the finish line.

I've completed a week's worth of the Couch 2 5k training runs.

My first run was at an unfamiliar park near the home I was house/teen/dog sitting.

I have three words for that first run: Hills, Wind, Mud. I uttered other words that day, but I'll let your imagination fill those in.

My second run was at a local high school track. It seemed easy compared to the boot camp nature of the first run. The sunshine seduced me into believing it was warmer than it was, so my fingers froze, but otherwise it was a great run. I hit a point when it got hard, and instantly I heard my B-I-L's words encouraging me. I smiled and kept going. I also thought a lot about my 8th grade track career. My middle school self is a good role model for me today. Show up. Do the work.

The third run took place on the black top and front sidewalks of my daughter's elementary school. I need to squeeze in some more running in between the weekend runs if I'm going to be in shape for the May 2 race. I'm also trying to stay ahead of any inclement weather that comes our way.

Lighting is the issue after we get home from work and school. The track wasn't accessible. The parks close at sundown. But there's reasonable lighting at school. My daughter ran and walked and exercised her role as Brownie when a community band member needed help with the door. The band practices in her cafeteria and he was trying to push a timpani through the door.

I did laps. I wore mittens.

I love this list. I love the challenges I've set for myself. I cannot wait for May 2.


  1. As I read this, I found myself cheering for 8th grade Julie. Beaming with pride for you showing up and doing the work! I can't wait to hear of your transformation into runner! 40 yr old Julie will not be last in the 5k and more importantly, any age Julie will not be last in the game of life! You CAN do hard things! Good job!

  2. 8th grade Julie is right - it doesn't matter how fast or slow you are. You're still lapping everyone in the couch who is unwilling to try!