"Honey, it's okay. Our family just didn't get built like runners."
My sweet sweet father was my basketball coach throughout my elementary school years. I can't recall why I decided to play basketball; it might've been because it seemed important to my dad, or maybe I wanted to just for me. All I remember is from the time I was five years old until the end of middle school, I was on a basketball team.
During that time, I scored exactly one basket.
In the wrong hoop.
You might say I was never much of an athlete.
Throughout my childhood I was a bigger kid. I loved pudding and cookies and crackers. Fruits and veggies were okay, but running around outside was never chosen over watching movies or reading. While I don't intend to bore you with a story of my overweight childhood, it plays a role in why I run, today. Bear with me.
Puberty hit and a little weight came off. Still, as soon as PE was a requirement in middle school, I used band and language classes to transfer out of physical education into the comfort zones of music and academia. The trend continued through high school. In all six years of my secondary education, I took exactly one semester of physical education.
I occasionally played soccer, I consistently was upset with the way I looked. Eventually college came around and I made a change. You know, the usual: changing my eating habits and working out every single day.
The change was one I carried with me into my adult life, but I still didn't feel like an athlete. I could rock that elliptical machine like nobody's business, but if a zombie apocalypse hit... could I be certain that I'd make it?
Last year, I had a bit of an epiphany. Running was hard. Hard things usually meant your body had to work harder. Therefore... I should run.
Completely new to the entire idea of running consistently, I told my students (a group of fantastic second, third, fourth, and fifth graders) that I wanted to run a half marathon that summer and I needed their help.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
The day after I introduced my goal (having never run), my students asked me how far I had run. They then insisted on plotting my three miles on a line graph to track my progress. The next day I hit four miles and received a standing ovation. The day after that, I went back to three, hoping to ramp myself up for five that weekend. You can tell I had no idea what I was doing.
When I told my students I had run three miles after already running four the previous day, I received words of condolence. "It's okay, Ms. H. You'll do better next time."
Obviously I realized we'd have to have a conversation about training runs versus long runs.
Long story somewhat shorter, in July of 2013 I found myself sprinting the last few meters of the See Jane Run Half Marathon in Seattle. Despite school being out of session, I sent an email out to the parents of my students thanking those kiddos for believing in me and giving me the courage to try this crazy running life out. The immediate response from most children: "What's your next race?"
Hitting this winter lull where the rain comes from out of nowhere, my shoes are squishing more often than not, and just getting out of bed to run in the freezing temperatures is harder than I can manage, I thought I would reach out to the running community for the support and encouragement I received from my students last year.
So share with me, if you can:
1. What's the next race you've signed up for?
2. How do you push yourself to get out on the pavement when you really just don't want to?