Don't Do Anything Hard Alone

Photo: Chasing, Diana F+

I think it's fair to say I had a couple things going on as a kid. School was pretty easy for me--reading, math, spelling. But I don't think I ever got any friends out of being good at spelling. It was my weakness that was the most bonding part of my schooling--gym class. I could never figure out what went wrong for me in the physical department. It was like all the other kids had some private lesson in how to run that I had missed, or that they were just born knowing how. One time, the gym teacher even tried teaching me how to run, and it failed. Any time we ran laps or the outside track, I was there at the end.

Rope climbing was the worst. Did you have those? Giant ropes trailing all the way to the ceiling beams and a big knot at the base. Other kids would grab that thing and shimmy up it effortlessly. I don't think I ever got three feet off the ground, and usually came down with rope burns all over my hands and legs.

Luckily I wasn't the only one at the end of the line when it came to running. That's how I became friends with the asthmatic kids. Best friends. My best friend in fourth grade, Amy C., had asthma, and she was just my speed. Unfortunately, I didn't have any diagnosis to excuse my slowness. I was just lame.

It's funny how these things form our view of ourselves over time until decades later we're still saying things like "I can't cook." Or certainly for me, "I'll never be a runner." I have plenty of these ugly duckling carry-overs from my youth, and the time has come to turn this one in.

I've been fantasizing about running for the last few months, even busting out bursts here and there on the street when I couldn't resist the urge any longer.  Then recently my sister sent me this cool program where you can gently go from a couch potato to running 5K in 9 weeks. She said she was going for it. I'm never one to do a hard thing alone, so I jumped at the chance to rewrite this story right along with her. It's been so fun to talk on the phone and talk about what we were nervous about or proud of, and hear the other one say, Me, TOO!

It reminds me of the same energy I had doing the Portfolio Project with Jen. Having a running partner when you're stretching into an area of challenge, an area of fear, or just rewriting an old story from the past can be the very thing that keeps you going when you'd quit, if it was only up to you.