My friend Amy is a “rock star” when it comes to running. If I remember correctly, she was on scholarship to a college in Virginia thanks to her accomplishments when she was on the track. So, needless to say when I decided at the age of (insert clearing of throat hear to cover the number I’m trying to hide) to run a 5 K for charity, she was the person I asked for advice shortly after I attempted to train.
Amy was very excited to give advice and even offered to run with me on the weekends. Given that I had never really been taught any kind of technique, especially with breathing, rolling from heal to toe, or gaining additional energy by effectively employing my arms to increase circulation, her consultation was a treasure.
Let me let you in on a little secret: I really loathe running. Loathe it. I have always said that I will not run unless George Clooney is in front of me. However, this may be because I had a dreadful and short lived track career in the 9th grade and because, quite frankly, it is HARD!
And so begins story time, reader. when I was in 9th grade, our little Catholic school in Greensboro must have come into some extra money, or our young gym teacher got adventuresome. For whatever purpose, Mrs. O’Neal decided to form a track team. Since my friend Missy and I finished pretty well on the required course we ran in gym class, we were invited to join the team. I was a “sporting lass” and decided I would give it a try.
Let’s just say it wasn’t a successful venture: we had just one meet. Mrs. O’Neal knew when to quit.
Due to her inestimable confidence in me, or more likely, her lack of options, Mrs. O’Neal chose me, with my short and stubby legs, to participate in (insert derisive snort here) the long jump. Yes, the long jump. The girls I competed against looked like full grown women to me. They had long legs, full breasts, and I’m pretty sure had been shaving their legs and armpits for 7 years prior to the meet. I watched the first girl jump and she cleared, oh, I don’t know — 30 feet? When it was my turn, I ran with all my might, leapt as high and far as I could and maybe hopped a foot. My opponent laughed right out loud, but graciously added, “that’s okay honey, you tried…you tried.”
I will spare you the debacle that was the relay race. I did not run again until a few short weeks ago.
It all started when my nephew’s wife Krissy invited me to attend or participate in a 5 K race to benefit Peacehaven Farm (http://www.peacehavenfarm.org). Being a non-runner, I quickly wrote her a check. But Michael and Krissy had been working so hard for the disabled in their community for some time that I was inspired by their dedication. So, I decided to participate – but not just to walk the event, to run in it. And George Clooney was not eve scheduled to appear, much less be in front of me. Just the same, I knew I had to get in shape fast. I went to my gym and talked to the trainers who set me up with a program called “From Couch Potato to 5K in 6 weeks.” I got on the tread mill and worked the program diligently. But I knew that while the treadmill was good practice, it was unlikely that the track at Peacehaven would be moving beneath me. Enter Amy.
Amy and I have been running together for just a few short weeks. Although she has been off the track for several years herself, once we decided to run together, she was back on. She taught me what I needed to know. She helped me with my form, breathing, and graciously did not absolutely smoke me right off the bat. She’s always very complimentary of me and encourages me to continue when I start to fade a little. She’s even decided to enter a 5K of her own in a few weeks.
Today as we ran together, I noticed we seemed to have developed a rhythm together. Our breathing is easier, our pace relaxed but steady, our goals and plans gelled. Its like we have developed this Vulcan mind meld, and it’s awesome. I don’t loathe running quite as much and as a matter of fact I have even begun to enjoy myself. I look forward to time on the path with my new running buddy; to the quieting my my mind with the sound of our breathing and the beat of our feet on the pavement.
Thanks to Amy, the memory of failures on the track are gone. I don’t have to win, I just have to run. And I may not need to chase George Clooney after all.