Monday, August 14, 2017


In eighth grade PE class, we ran a mile once a month, as a way to assess our fitness and to gauge progress. In order to keep us all from running into each other on the track, we were split up into start times based on our previous month's pace. There was a 6-9 minute group, a 9-12, and a 12-15 minute group.

I was in the 12-15 minute group, and I hated it.

The athletes were in the first group. The pretty and popular girls were all in the second group. I was in the group that was barely going fast enough to get a passing grade. "You can walk it in 15 minutes if you hustle," said our teacher, "There's no reason to not be able to finish in that time."

I wanted nothing more than to get into one of the faster groups. I was ashamed.

That was the year I started jogging in place while I watched TV at night. I lost over 10 pounds, probably not in the healthiest of ways. I wanted to be different, to be part of a group where deep in my gut I would never believe I belonged.

I got into the middle group. Then I got my mile time under 10 minutes, a goal that meant more to me than it probably should have.

And it didn't change anything. It didn't fill any of the void in my heart. It didn't make me feel less lonely or cooler or special.

I've been running again this summer. Last night I ran 2.5 miles. My pace hovers just above an 11 minute mile. I'm so much stronger than I was at 13, so much smarter. There's a part of me, though, that still believes that in order to be someone I need to get my pace under 10 minutes. I need to be able to run the whole 5k and get it in under 30 minutes. There's a part of me that thinks that it's not real, that I am not doing it until I get there, until I hit that goal, until I fit into that group.

That's not why I run. I know this. It matters that I get out there and put in the time more than it matters how far or how fast I go. Showing up matters. Until I can get that deep into my skull, can convince that scared 13 year old girl inside me who still just really wants to belong, it will never really change anything. I'll always be running from myself instead of running for myself.

1 comment:

  1. I love this this. I ran a 13 minute mile in junior high before one size fits all gym class threatened the health and wellbeing of some students with medical issues. 15 years later I walked/ran just under 20 minute miles and finished a half marathon, dead last, by an hour. Showing up is hard. Understanding that showing up is winning is even harder.