One of my goals this year was to run a 1/2 marathon. My husband and I are signed up and scheduled to run our first one this Saturday.
Here are all the reasons (excuses) why I don’t want to go pick up my race packet tomorrow nor participate in the run on Saturday:
1. I have not trained enough.
2. I was sick for 2 whole weeks earlier this year.
3. My son was also sick for a whole week earlier this year.
4. I’ll be doing good if my legs and hips can handle 7 or 8 of the 13+ miles.
5. It was too darn cold to run some days.
6. It was rainy and windy out other days…Yes, I know, I can hear tiny violins playing too.
7. I did not ask anyone to babysit our son for race day. (Oh wait, my neighbor just volunteered.)
What was I thinking? Cross-country running? I had never run more than a half mile in my life. Sure, I kind of enjoyed sprinting short distances, but what made me think I could possibly do this?
I was in the 8th grade, at a new school and apparently during a brief moment of insanity, I decided it would be fun to sign up to be on the middle school cross-country team. My plan was to try cross-country in the fall, track and field in the winter and then maybe softball or swimming in the spring. I had just finished my first “practice run” with the team. Looking back, I am sure the run was only a mile or two, but at the time, it felt like the Boston Marathon.
What was I thinking? Who knew that when they said cross-country…they actually meant it!
Completely discouraged, I walked toward the girl’s locker room after this long and excruciating death run across numerous dirt paths through the Arizona desert. It was not at all what I was expecting. And even worse, out of the dozen or so people on the team, I had finished the first run in last place!
How embarrassing! I am definitely not doing that again! Cross-country is not for me. I quit!
“You’re not gonna quit are you?” The voice made me jump. I turned around and coming up behind me was the 6’10” tall cross country coach, Mr Spencer.
“Uh, no.” I answered, too shy to actually say what I really wanted to say to the gigantic, long-legged man approaching me. “No, I’m not going to quit.”
I ended up staying on the team that entire semester and hating pretty much every single minute of my experience. Every practice, I came in last. Every practice, I was reminded that I wasn’t very good at running. I didn’t excel at it. Everyone on the team was so much better than I was at running. Since I never ever even came close to beating anyone, the only choice I had was to kind of make it a competition against myself. I was determined that I would never stop and walk. No matter how frustrated I got, I would at least be able to say at the end of each run, that I kept running. But, what really annoyed me were my team members who would stop and walk for a bit along the way during our runs, and still end of up beating me! Grrr!
Finally, the time came to run against other cross-country teams. And, you can probably guess, I came in last every single meet that we had. Every single meet… except the last meet! At the last meet of the season, my rule of not stopping and giving up finally paid off. During the last stretch, Eileen (Fast As A Herd Of Turtles) Muldowney rounded the corner and came upon a runner from the rival school who had given up and decided to walk. After weeks and weeks of always bringing up the rear, I was about to make history. As I neared the finish line, my teammates saw me coming and started cheering me on and running along side me. I crossed the finish line that day second to last.
Looking back on this experience, I wish I could say that it inspired me to go on and try track and field or swimming or softball later that year. But it didn’t. I made it to the finish line and I stopped running. I was scared. Scared of trying something new and possibly not succeeding. Scared of not measuring up. Scared of coming in last. Oh, how I wish I could go back, go back knowing what I know now, and choose differently.
Years later, a coworker convinced me to start running with her during the week. She taught me how to enjoy running. She made it fun. I don’t need to be the fastest runner. I don’t need to worry about coming in last. I run simply for the joy of running. And that, has made all the difference.
I am thankful to my hubby who reminded me of this today.
So tomorrow, I will be picking up my race packet. And Saturday, I will be participating in my first 1/2 marathon.