This is my story. I am a runner. I love running. It fuels me and stretches me. I even love that sometimes I hate running. But I wasn’t always a runner. In fact for much of my life I was the farthest thing from any kind of an athlete. I was the kid who was picked last for every team in PE class. And rightfully so – I was awful at pretty much every sport.
Not being athletic became a core part of my identity. I took a PE class the summer before my freshman year in high school. This in itself is telling. I purposefully took the class in the full-throttle heat of a central Florida summer just so I could avoid messing up my huge 1980s hair with a PE class that might happen to be scheduled in the middle of my school day. One day we had to run a mile around the track. I had never stepped foot on a track before. I’d never even seen a track in person. And I was in stunned disbelief that I was supposed to make it four laps around that stupid thing. I had to walk a lot of it. The next couple days were the second sorest my muscles have ever been.
I went away to a college that was surrounded by beautiful hiking trails. I realized I loved being outside on the trails. I got stronger and fitter. Later I moved near a large city park and took up running. The trees, old architecture and the ability to connect with my neighborhood drew me in.
Then life got busy. I filled up with excuses and I took a long running break. A number of years ago I picked it back up again. It became a way for me to reconnect with myself. I liked the challenge. Actually I needed to challenge myself. I started running with a friend and we pushed each other. She pushed me right into a marathon training program with the goal of her qualifying to run the Boston Marathon. I simply wanted to push myself to give everything I had to finish the race. The process changed me.
That day I started the Tacoma City Marathon I had a fire deep inside me. The race took me physically and mentally to places I didn’t know I had the strength to go. I laid down everything I had on that pavement, and I qualified for the Boston Marathon. But I did it. I faced my self-doubts and the thing I thought I could never be. I had become an athlete. That was the most sore my muscles have ever been in my life. And it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.