I Was Running

Halloween 2012 038

The series “Fat Fridays” is based off of my new journey of couch to 5k for the Spring Girls on the Run on April 20, 2013. I am trying to raise 300 dollars for the local chapter of girls on the run, the donation link can be found here. While I am training for the 5k I am also self-reflecting using some of the themes from the GOTR biweekly lessons that the girls go through. I do not claim to be fat (although “Feeling Fat” -definitely) but I am taking the perceptions of myself in reflection to help compile this series.

Recently I’ve been trying to convince some girls to join girls on track. You see there is two programs for Girls on the Run. Girls on the Run which is for 3rd to 5th graders, and then there is Girls on Track which is for girls 6th to 8th graders.

I specifically remember a teacher in seventh grade pulling me after class and my heart racing. I was always a fairly good student so to be asked to stay after class made me immediately start shaking. I stood by his science desk and bounced on my feet.

“Have you thought about joining cross country?”
I laughed nervously.
“We need some more girls and I think you should come out.”
I laughed even more nervously. “No.”
“What do I need to get you to run?”
“Have something chase me.”
“I can do that.”
“Think about it.”
“Ya Okay.”

And I walked away. Looking back he was the first person who ever asked me to run and I didn’t listen. Instead I heard a message that was much much louder.

Here’s an example of that other message.

Friend One and Friend Two are talking at the same math table as myself. They, unlike me, joined the cross country team and apparently regretted it. There was groans about this hurting and that. There was explicit descriptions of the work they were doing, about how people were yelling in megaphones to work harder and faster. Then there was the casual dropping of how heavy your legs feel after you run. Then there was the talk about how Friend One was smaller than Friend Two so she could run easier than Friend Two.

Then there was me. Clearly bigger than Friend One and Two and I knew, running wasn’t for big people. Running was for slim, tall, straight haired blonde girls.

I might have received this message from a few places. If you look at the average Nike or what ever running company ad, you’ll see a lot of these type of people. That’s not to say this type is bad or a negative message. It’s what it is not saying that I have a problem with. What you don’t see is the range of body types, the range or types of people, in bright pink running shorts.

But for a moment, between these two moments. I thought about it. I thought about what it would be like to have hoards of running shoes and just “go out and hit the pavement.” I love the poetry of running, the sounds of feet hitting gravel, or a rhythmic breathing. I’m sold on the idea of running. I’ve just never invested in running because I thought running was never invested in me.

I never thought I could be a runner. Because I wasn’t the “type.” Because I was a different type of “athletic” or I wasn’t “athletic” at all.

And I see it every time I talk to these girls. I fact I just recently had a girl talk to me and our conversation went like this,

Girl on Track: I decided not to do Girls on Track
Me: WHAT?! WHY!? I think you’d be a great Girl on Track!
GOT: I talked to my mom about it and she doesn’t think I can do it.
Me: Do what!? We have scholarships!
GOT: The running.
Me: You don’t have to run, you just have to move forward. Each step get’s us one step closer to the goal. And we train, we take 10 weeks to train for the 5k.
GOT: I just don’t think I can do it.
Me: I know you can.
GOT: I’m not a runner.

And that’s how our conversations have been going. I’m not a runner. I can’t. I just can’t.

Girls on Track gives girls another important thing. It gives them the ability to say. I can.

-Coach Tomato