I haven’t always been as active as I am today…
When I was young, sports were the last thing I wanted to do. I was active, sure, but for me that meant I spent a lot of time frolicking in my parents’ big yard, swimming, and riding my bike all over the rural area we lived in. Otherwise, I was mostly what I would call a loner, reading books and writing, spending time outside, and being an eccentric kid (e.g. lists of all of my stuffed animals and their names, bookmark and pencil collections). I was also pretty shy and nervous when it came to groups of people, and that only highlighted my natural clumsiness.
This all culminated into a hatred of gym class, which, who doesn’t go through at some point? I remember completely dreading gym class and the two things that stuck with me were:
- My gym teacher always told me to put “more butt into it” when I couldn’t serve a volleyball over the net, resulting in everyone laughing and looking at my butt. I still don’t think I could serve a volleyball.
- Once, when playing kickball, I actually kicked the ball with fury insert proud smile and the “pitcher” quickly grabbed it and threw it at me with more fury. He hit the side of my knee and I went down, left with the very physical memory of that embarassment the rest of the school day (and apparently my life).
So, really, gym and teamwork didn’t really come together for me at all. I felt like if I were to do something physically active, I’d be better off on my own.
Exercise by choice
In high school, I started running a little with my sister, but that kind of fizzled when I went to college and relied on a cardio class to get my healthy amount of exercise into my schedule. That summer after freshman year, I started running a mile or so a day, but I never really went further than that.
My freshman roommate, Kelsey, and I began running together and our endurance was similar, we really enjoyed spending the time together, and we kept each other going. I wanted to stay fit and spend time with my friend and that’s exactly what happened.
By the end of senior year, we were hooked.
I forgot to mention that I’m competetive by nature. The signs were all there, but I didn’t really embrace this as part of my character until I was about 21 and ran my first 5K. My dad had suggested I run it with him and some friends, so I accepted the challenge, terrified. The race was at a local high school in March. The weather was…March in Ohio. It was freezing and I remember wondering why this gymnasium full of people actually wanted to do this. I finished and felt absolutely awesome. Everyone was cheering the finishers on and the runners were gathering inside to commiserate and eat some fruit. My dad and his friends joined me and we sat down to chat until awards were announced. This was a whole new world to me!
Placing in a sporting event was something that had never even crossed my mind. I remember a rush of excitement as I realized I could do this and I was in love with this…sport (could I even call it a sport if I was participating in it?!).
Running and racing now
And here I am now, running a 5K a month, running the occasional 10K, participating in the Cleveland 10 miler every year, and now I’m training for my 6th half marathon. The days of scoffing at “crazy runners” are over and I’m completely immersed in the way this activity makes me feel. I get mental and physical rewards from it daily, stretching from the actual “runner’s high” (that’s a whole other post) to the way writing about my surprising passion is making me feel right now. When I say “I’m a runner,” I still get a weird feeling like I shouldn’t be in this category of people, labeled an athlete, but I also get a rush of pride. I’m proud of what I’ve done in the past 4 years or so, and I feel like there’s something to be said for people like me. You can be athletic, healthy, and accomplished without being the kid that pitched the ball too hard in kickball and scarred a clumsy pre-teen for life.