Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Where I am running...

When I was in 5th grade, some of my male friends made a secret club. As you may have assumed, this club had an imaginary "NO GIRLS ALLOWED" sign on its imaginary clubhouse door.  In short order, my budding feminist self had my girlfriends in a right tizzy over this outrage: You cannot discriminate on the basis of sex or gender!, my 10-year-old self would have said if she had had the worldly knowledge to do so.

Instead, I just demanded that they let us join.  "Okay," said their ring leader (I still remember his name and his lisp and his red-haired, freckled head... in fact, I am about to Facebook him), "You can join. If you each beat one of us in a race."

Here is the truth: I have never been a runner. I have never been an athlete in any way, shape or form. Climbing trees and playing games, sure, but unlike my sisters I was never on an organized sports team and was completely content to keep it that way. So when these boys challenged me, I knew I had to use my brains to beat them and gain access to their club.

We went out to the soccer field during recess. The boys said, "We start here, we end here," and lined us up. I was racing a boy who in 6th grade would awkwardly become my first boyfriend (he painted my name down his leg on field day; I was mortified). And then, someone shouted something or other, and we were off. I was doing okay, keeping to his pace, when suddenly i cut sharply to the right... AND RAN STRAIGHT ACROSS THE FIELD TO THE FINISH LINE. Yep. While my opponent ran allllll the waaaay around, I was defending my decision on the fact that they had only said where we would start and where we would stop, but they didn't define the actual course.

In the end, we were denied membership in the stupid club with the stupid boys, so we made our own and it was ten times awesomer. Yeah.

So anyway. That was probably the height of my running career. The next year I ran a 10-minute-mile during the annual fitness tests (ugh, kill me), and it was all downhill (except I guess that expression doesn't really work here... it was more like a brick wall) from there. I have, through the years, toyed with the idea of being athletic, but it has never stuck. Then, this fall I watched the end of the New York City marathon, and suddenly felt inspired. No, not to run a marathon (ARE YOU CRAZY?!), but to run a HALF MARATHON!!! Luckily, my best friend was ready and willing to pretend to be a runner with me, and we started the Couch to 5K Running Plan together. I'm currently about to finish Week 5 of the plan and while I am nervous for a 20 minute run tomorrow, I'm excited to power on through.

It's strange to have run 3-4 times a week for over a month, now. I've finally started to enjoy it, and I think I get why all you running nuts go so crazy for it. I feel more focused, and I look forward to my runs as a time to focus on myself and let the rest of the world melt away.

Hopefully in the next few weeks we'll finish the Couch to 5K program and maintain that over the winter, and then in the spring we'll pick up our training again and start working on our 1/2 marathon. The eventual goal? A 1/2 marathon (or maybe a full? AM I CRAZY?!) in Disney World. I am really excited. If only my 10-year-old self could see me now...

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