I grew up as a runner. I ran my first race in kindergarden. It was a one-mile race on a track, and I was at least a whole lap behind everyone else. They offered to let me finish short, but I wouldn’t. I wanted to run the whole race.
My Dad’s been a runner for years, and I spent many Saturday mornings cheering for runners in a road race. Summer, winter, rain or shine, he ran, we cheered.
We ran some races as a family when we were kids, and in 8th grade (after a very failed attempt at volleyball in 7th grade) I started running cross country.
By the time I graduated from high school, I was done with running. I wasn’t good at it. In fact, the story from my first race could very well be the story of many of my races, minus the option to quit part. Between cross country and track my freshman year of high school, when my body decided to grow into a woman, I became one of the slowest runners in high school running sports. I finished last in more than my fair share of races, but I wasn’t bothered by it, so I figured it might as well be me.
I quit track after 10th grade, but I stuck with cross country through my senior year. I love cross country – the fall weather, the rainy muddy races, the people who think your crazy because you run for fun, the spikes (which I still have hidden in my closet). It helped that it was a fall sport – an easy way to meet new friends as I moved from high school to high school (I attended three).
When my youngest sister graduated from high school a few years ago, my family had spent 10 straight years on the cross country course in high school. For my brother, who is 12 years younger than me, fall meant cross country, as he had spent most of his life running around cross country meets every fall for as long as he could remember.
Both of my sisters ran in college, and my brother now runs too. My dad still runs and races, my mom never did. My sisters were WAY faster than me. Way faster. Pretty much from the time they started running. That was OK with me, I didn’t mind when my freshman sister flew past me every race and practice. And the moment after my last race as a senior in high school, I quit running.
Every so often I try to pick it up again. I’m still slow, although my body has gotten used to it’s now-not-so-new size so I have the potential to be faster. But it’s hard, when it’s been so long and I couldn’t even run with my sisters if I tried. Their jog is my flat-out-race-run. And I get discouraged easily.
But I’m trying. And at the end of October I’m running in a race. I’ve even bought myself a new purple watch for the occasion. So we’ll see how it goes. It’s hard to see my race times knowing what I used to be capable of, especially when I think all the way back to my freshman year of high school. But I’ll run anyway, and hopefully, this time, I won’t stop.
And maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll even get to run in a race with my sisters.