Mind Candy

Just another WordPress.com weblog

A look at a runner’s life

Posted by mandyf on June 9, 2012

I was only fourteen and in my first season of high school cross country, a rare treat for a freshman I was reminded of daily as upperclassmen made me their servant. Why I was running was unclear. I suppose it was that thought of earning that snazzy letter jacket a year ahead of my less motivated peers or maybe it was the camaraderie. Whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t what I expected.

“C’mon newbie only a bit more than a mile to go!” she said as breezing past me. “Shut up and drop dead you fitness hag”, I muttered under my breath. Thoughts raced through my pounding head. Isn’t it against the Geneva Convention to have a fourteen year old run over six miles? I begged God to let a car hit me so I could just lie down a few minutes without anyone thinking I was a quitter. Being hit by a moving vehicle is always a good excuse to stop. Maybe if I just think happy thoughts I’ll get through this heinous, vicious punishment.

Needless to say the experience changed for me as time went by. Generally unable to be really good at the high school level I was that runner that was always the brides maid and never the bride. If the local newspaper listed the top ten race finishers I was number 11. If five ribbons or trophies were handed out, you guessed it, I was number six. My ego needed to be fed. I needed hardware, my name in print, some form of tangible proof I had not just run the race but run it well. Something my future offspring could look at years down the road and say “Wow, mom can do more than just keep my whites looking white and make a nutritious meal in under fifteen minutes.”

I began searching out small road races I imagined would be ripe for the picking. After two long years of the same people beating me in school races toeing the line next to me in road races I found my cherry in a bowl of pits. Granted I had to travel over two hours the morning after our conference championship race but I found it. I assessed the competition and saw nary a familiar face. “Oh yes” I thought, “This is my day.” With a staccato shot I was off and flying, but within one short mile tragedy struck. Yes I had the menstrual cramps to end all cramps. “Why me I wailed?” Hadn’t I taken enough pamprin to kill a small elephant? Oh running Gods you are cruel.

Unable to allow myself to quit I just kept slogging along. The remaining two miles seemed to take hours to get through although in reality it was on sixteen minutes or so. I finished my race and began my stretching routine. In my mind I was already thinking of what out of the way road race I could attack next. I grabbed my complimentary race tee shirt and refilled my water jug for the ride home just as the awards were being presented. At that moment as if I was struck by a two by four. I heard my name.

What happened? Did I leave my car lights on? Did someone call to tell me to rush home because dad had a stroke on the golf course finally or mom suffered a tragic and equally mysterious gardening accident? No not that. I had won my age division? How did that happen? I really, really stunk it up out there today! Well in all honesty I was the only girl between fourteen and seventeen that entered so I was a predetermined winner by default. Aww heck I didn’t care! I had a trophy I won on my own. I decided to just leave the circumstances of how I won it out of the story I told my teammates at school.

I went on to run collegiality and did okay but like high school always lived just on the edge of breaking through. Certainly good enough to be there but not by any means a star. Perhaps my greatest honor was being named team captain my senior year. Do I have to disclose I was the only returning senior? Let’s not, that would spoil the fantasy.

24 years have passed since my collegiate racing days ended. My daughter is now running and preparing for cross country next year. I wonder if she will be like me or better. It doesn’t matter really. Right now I enjoy her smile when she runs and the chance to run with her as part of her workouts. Granted I still put on the kick to finish our runs because I refuse to be beat by my daughter but it never really works – she just lets me “win” to feed my ego. I don’t care though,in some way I’m still winning.

I try to impart the wisdom I’ve gained over nearly thirty years of running. I provide a slew of tips on workouts, tactics, and most importantly how to look good even when dripping a small puddle of sweat while wheezing and hacking. I try to remind her to spit and clear her nose like a proper lady. Dress etiquette is always a must as shorts must be worn over tights even if all the other girls go without. No amount of “Mom I look like a dork, you’re ruining my life making me wear these!” will change my mind on that even if I sported the sleek sexy look myself.

Most importantly though I try to help her understand the real value of running beyond the trophies, and the health benefits. The time to contemplate life. Running allows the chance to at least briefly put aside all the baggage the daily grind piles on us and dig deep into serious issues like whether or not this New Kids on the Block reunion will happen, or if it is really possible to enter a mid life crisis before entering mid life? Who let the dogs out and can they be put back inside? Who invented liquid soap and why? We are dealing with some very complex issues. Usually though I contemplate if the people looking at me think I have a fat dumpy rear or just enough junk in the trunk to still be a MILF.

Tomorrow we will go out for our run shortly after clearing the mess left at the dinner time trough we call the kitchen. I wonder what we will talk about if anything at all. Perhaps it might be school, a boy she has interest in (Although boys are forbidden until her thirty seventh birthday or I’m dead, whichever comes first) or perhaps more stories about when mom was her age that seem to bring on a state of catatonia unknown to modern medicine. Yes I will definitely go on about my exploits as no one else is interested in listening. I just think I’ll leave out the part about wishing a car would hit me so I could lay down. She might use that tactic to escape my next story!


One Response to “A look at a runner’s life”

  1. txwikinger said

    Reblogged this on txwikinger's blog.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: