Ever since I was very very little I remember how much I love running. My family has two acres of property and during the nice weather I would literally just run in circles for fun. There was a grassy driveway down one side of the property and I remember racing my brother John up and down it. I couldnt wait until I was finally in middle school and got to join the track team.
My dad did track growing up. I remember him telling about the events and his memories of it and I would just sit there thinking "Wow! I cant wait!" I always ended up saying I wanted to do whatever my dad did. I wrote in first grade that when I grew up I wanted to be "an EMT, just like my dad." I know I really wanted to be a writer...but doing something like dad sounded so much cooler. Really though, even thugh the fact that he loved running helped, I truly did love it.
I joined softball in fourth grade. I really wasnt that good at it. I think it was more a competetive thing with my brother since he was a huge baseball addict. I couldnt throw right and barely ever caught the ball. But when my chance came to bat and I got to run around those bases, thats when I loved it. Other teams learned that I was the girl who would always try to steal a base. I would sprint as fast as I could. In fifth grade I quite softball and joined basketball. I wasnt as bad at that as I was at softball. I was decent at dribbling and stealing and even made a basket every so often. But my favorite thing? I bet you can guess...booking it down that court, swerving in and out of the people for that little bouncing orange ball. I would dive for it, usually ending up with bruises and bloody noses.
I remember one time a friend of mine asked me to teach her to run. Ha! We were hanging out in front of the whale museum in town and she told me I was so good at it and wanted me to teach her. I think we were about nine. So we spent the rest of the time we had there running up and down the sidewalk, me "teaching" (like I knew what I was doing right? It was like "so stretch your legs as far as you can...stay on your toes, think of your ankles like springs, etc") and she running after me.
Finally the day came that I left the elementary school and entered the long awaited middle school. I joined volleyball that fall and loved it. I was the youngest setter on the team and actually did pretty decent. But all I could wait for what that spring. As spring drew closer, I found out something horrible.
Our middle school didnt have a track team!
I dont remember everything I did, but I wasnt happy. I had always been one of those kids who would write up petitions whenever I wasnt happy with something and get everyone who could write to add their signiature. Then I would wave it in front of my teachers face...it rarely changed anything but I always had to get my point across. I remember writing one, saying that we needed our own track team. Then bringing it to the principal. Within a few weeks our science teacher had agreed to be the coach and we started our first practices. I was in heaven!
I couldnt get enough of it. I wanted to do every event and run run run. Yeah, I would complain sometimes. It was hard! But inside I loved every second of it. Through out middle school I looked forward to volleyball in the fall, theatre in the winter, and then the long awaited for spring and Track season. We were a small school with a new track team, so we only had about two meets a year. It mostly was a bunch of kids getting together and running. I slowly came to find some of my favorite events: Hurtles. 4x1 Relay. 400m dash. 1600m. Long jump. It was hard because we could only do four events. I would have to bounce back and fourth, the only one I constantly doing was 4x1.
Middle school ended. I entered high school. I quite volleyball, mostly out of fear that I wouldnt be good enough. I sike myself out alot and even ignored the fact that the high school volleyball coach had come to me asking that I join the team. I just chickened out. Sadly. But Theatre and Track...they never left me. My first year I qualified for Tri-Districts (one away from State) with three events: Long jump, 400m, and 4x1 relay. I was so nervous! I kept messing up my footing on long jump and ended up not placing high enough. I took off too fast for 400m and placed one spot below the qualifying spot for State. Then 4x1. We were doing amazing. Ahead of the pack. I ran third leg (hated that leg) and as I sprinted to the last hand-off, she took off her mark too late and I ran into her. We placed two spots too low. That year I also had my first break-up. I remember during PE the next day asking my teacher if I could just run. Of course he let me. I probably ran about nine or ten miles that class. I was burning and aching but I had just discovered what else running can do: heal.
In tenth grade I discovered a new love: Triple jump. We were having a home meet and there were only two other competitors. Our coach asked if anyone wanted to try it. As long as we didnt scratch, we would place and get points for the team and our lettering. A friend and mine and I decided to give it a shot. The judge at the pit gave us a quick lesson...and I placed first! There was one other girl on our team, a grade ahead of me, who had been doing triple for a while. She wasnt too happy. But I had just fallen in love with it. It quickly became my main event that I focused on. They would have to pry me away from the pit to practice relay or 400m. I would alternated between triple and long daily, flying through the air over and over. Sprinting down the line then leaping into the air and landing into the sandy pit. I loved it! I placed first at almost every meet after that. My distance got better and better and before long I had almost pre-qualified for State.
One practice I was trying to get past a mark I had been landing for too long. I just couldnt get it. We all played in the sand while others jumped, making sand castles and such. The girl that was jumping long before me, who I was now beating every time, was digging in the sand. I saw her digging, and should have looked closer at what she was doing. I went back to my starting spot, sprinted down the lane, hop skip jump...and landed in the whole she had dug right where I had been landing all day. She had dug it down to the hard dirt below. All I remember was screaming, feeling fire go up my leg, then falling over and blacking out. I opened my eyes to the team running to me and the girl begging me not to tell. Of course I did...she never showed up for practice again. Turns out she wanted to make my shin splints worse (I suffered from those non stop). But instead I twisted my right ankle and tore the cartelidge in my right knee.
You cant do much to fix knee injuries. I was heart broken. I was about to qualify for State. I couldnt run at all now. I kept showing up for practice. And they let me come on the meets to root everyone on. Bi-Districts rolled around...and I decided I would compete. I started practicing, trying to push through the pain. My knee was always wrapped tightly and IB Profen was a good friend. I remember that meet. I can picture that runway and pit and remember the pain as I tried to shoot down it. I didnt do horrible. Better than I thought I would. And my coach was proud of me. I was trying. I remember running and jumping into the air, tears filling my eyes, and landing, trying to put as much weight as I could onto my left leg. I didnt go onto Tris that year.
My knee never got back to how it was. in 11th grade I was back in track, but I couldnt push like I once did. I hated 4x1. Basically girls 4x1 is a popularity contest fill of bickering abckstabbing girls. And Coach always put me on it even though I told him I didnt want to. I had to deal with the girls, the attacking, the snide comments. Sigh. All I wanted to do was be at my pit. I did well that year...not AS well as before...but well. My senior year I didnt start track right away. I was busy with running start, planning my wedding, etc etc. But I got pulled back in. I couldnt resist it. Its like a drug haha. I did it for the love of running, not the competition. I did well, could have gone onto tris but decided not to.
I wish they had a track team for Addicted Graduates. You leave school, get handed your diploma and move into the "real" world, and all your passions you created those 12 years become ignored gems. Unless you have been accepted into a college for one of you talents, you end up losing them. Theatre, Track, Choir...what do you do when you dont have the afterschool announcements and Meets and scheduled field trips?
I stopped running.
I have decided something though. Just because I dont have the Meets and competition, why cant I still run? Like when I was younger, running around my family's property just for the sheer joy of it. The burn of the lungs. The strain in the legs. The quick breaths and pounding heart. Watching the world whiz by as you take step after step down the path. Not to mention is kick starts your metabolism and trims in those parts of your body ruined by such things as...pregnancy...
So I am running again. I mapped out an area in a neighborhood near us. It is about a mile there and a mile back, so a good two miles. Some hills, lots of sidewalk...quiet streets. I went running yesterday in the first time in who KNOWS how long. It was about 6 at night and had been hot all day. But a breeze kicked in right when I started. I couldnt run the entire time. Thats what you get for being out of shape. But I ran most of the way. I loved the fact that my legs throbbed and felt like Jell-o. I loved the sharp burn in my lungs and the sweat beading on my forehead. Running is one of the best therapies out there. Life is a headache, like nothing else. I am trying my hardest to raise a kid in a good home with the right morals and lots of happiness. He has a mind of his own and I am on my feet alot chasing him. We have bills and rarely enough money to pay them. In all senses we are poor. Friends are far and few between and family is far away. Its easy to feel alone and depressed and worn out. But putting on my running clothes (which I found out I need new ones. Especially shoes sigh) and letting the pavement take away my thoughts...I had forgotten how good it feels. I miss getting the metals of first place. The kudos and the slaps on the back and the news articles...you dont get those in real life.
But I feel good. Thats worth it.