I began running when I was 13 years old.
My brother convinced my parents that it would improve my basketball-playing skills if I joined other sports. Cross country, he suggested, would increase my stamina, and keep me in shape off season.
I was annoyed, but relented. I wasn't much of a fighter, and I figured it would take less energy from me to just join this team, than it would to try to fight with my brother and father for the next four years over what a mistake I had made in not following their advice. I wasn't in love with basketball anyways; it was unlikely that I would hate this sport any more than I hated that one, right?
As someone who to this day remains a bit socially awkward, I was surprised to see how well got along with my fellow runners. That made me happy immediately. Formerly a loner, I felt like I might have company.
Who constituted the group of people I would spend the next four years with?
Well, there were two types of people that were on my high school cross country team: 1) Athletes that were there to condition themselves for some other sport they preferred and 2.) People (athletic or not) that desired the opportunity to get into shape while avoiding physical contact with other people. No one initially joined the team because they had any kind of passion for running.
But...many of us converted.
I have to admit it-- I couldn't run 1 mile the first day, but I decided right off the bat that I was in love with this sport and that I would climb my way to the top.
My stubby little legs (I'm maybe 5 foot 2) were not built for distance running, but I decided that I would prevail. Most of the people that I really got along with were the actual runners; those that had joined for some other reason, but that stayed and excelled because they fell in love with running for hours on end.
I was training with the varsity team by my sophomore year (not racing varsity yet, but training). I had made it up to the group of neurotics and over-achievers that I felt comfortable with (even if I was not really an over achiever, myself).
If you're curious, I ran varsity my junior and senior year. I would never be amazing at running, but I held my own.
I still remember my runs with a team:
We would warm up with one mile in the park, stretch, and then hit the road.
Once on the run, we would all talk and sing in unison, clap in unison, and laugh about funny incidents that we could relate to one another. And then around the fourth mile, the chatter would die down, we would all settle into the run, and peace and quiet would reign over the last few miles. This was the golden hour, and probably my favorite time of the run: Our need to socialize spent, we could easily settle into a silent reverie. Once there, my mind would be blank. Only audible was the easy breathing of my fellow runners, the sound of about 40 sneakers lightly padding the pavement in stride, and the steady stream of cars whirring past us.
Once I left for college, I had to settle for running in a gym by myself. Literally non of my friends from cross country went to UF, and only one other friend of mine from high school went there at all. So, no runners there.
Beyond college, I have continued to run in a gym or on my treadmill at home; it's been soul-less and not nearly as fun. I had given it up during pregnancy and for some time thereafter, but have picked it back up again with a vengeance.
Darn the gym! I am getting used to it, but it's still not the same.
Chronicling the ups and downs of my life as a twenty-something always second-guessing herself.
- ▼ 2010 (36)