Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Little Bit Like Forrest

In sixth grade, I was required to Run The Mile for the first time in my life. I remember being absolutely flabbergasted when Mr. Cifarelli announced that I had completed those four GD laps in 8:08. It had felt like an eternity, and yet I don't remember the run being particularly difficult. Just wait, A.K. It gets worse.
At my high school, gym class was only required through 10th grade in order to incorporate Driver's Ed., as well as one last attempt at Family Life. I took Advanced P.E. in 11th and 12th grades for a bit of "exercise." I'm going to use that term loosely, because it was mostly my mouth that got exercise. Even then, we were still required to Run The Mile.
During the spring of my junior year, my friend Tiffany and I were positively dreading the mile. She smoked like a chimney, and I wasn't in any kind of shape for "distance" running. We agreed to run the straights and walk the curves of the gravel track outlining the football field. We began at the same pace, but Tiffany took off and I was left in her dust. I think I finished in under 15 minutes, but there were only 2 people finishing behind me. My classmates had been standing around for some time, wondering what was next on the agenda. Big whoop, Troy. I pretty much decided then and there that running was NOT for me.
At Longwood, undergrads are required to take one Physical Education course. I picked one my first semester (to get it out of the way) called Basic Activities or some crap. We dabbled in tennis, dodgeball, military drills... whatever whimsical notion crossed my teacher's warped mind. We didn't do much running, so I was off the hook again.
When I moved into an apartment for my junior and senior years, I decided--after a few months of prodding encouragement by one of my roommates and a gnawing sense of guilt--to check out the fitness facility the complex offered.
Small is definitely not an understatement, but it basically suited my purposes. I could crank up Saved By the Bell, crank out a few miles power-walking, and examine the weight machines without feeling scrutinized. I did what I thought was running, but I found out how ill-prepared I was for my sorority's annual Miles 4 Smiles 5k event that my dad "ran" with me during the spring of my senior year. I doubt I even jogged half of the damn thing. I was also foolishly allowing my brain to believe that my body was losing weight and that I was taking care of myself... between bites of thin-crust pineapple and onion Papa John's and sips of PBR.
Finally, when I moved into my current apartment 13 months ago, I decided to make permanent changes in my fitness, my diet, and my lifestyle. Things have only gone uphill since! I celebrated every new distance milestone and every new pound lifted. I recorded everything meticulously, and I continually set new goals and challenges for myself. I don't know when one can consider herself "A Runner," but I do know that running is a sport that provides me freedom, pride, health, challenge, and spirit.
Maybe that's what a runner's high truly is -- "I just felt like runnin'." Everyone says I'll know it when I experience it, so maybe I'm looking for it too hard. Maybe I'll find my true runner's high when I least expect it.
Until then... have an excellent Thursday, blends!

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