I’m going to tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a 16-year-old girl living in a residential Chicago neighborhood who fancied herself something of a tomboy. She played basketball and ran around the backyard pretending to be a ninja. One day, her younger brother set out for a mile-and-a-half run and the girl thought: I can do that; piece of cake. So she lept into step behind him and set off. At the half way point, the girl collapsed on the grass at the corner of Kedzie and Touhy Ave., clutching her stomach, and wheezed: “You, gasp, go, gasp, on, gasp, without, gasp, me.”
That girl was me. True story. And my brother still makes fun of me.
My running journey has progressed considerably since then. Yesterday, I ran a very painful 5.5 miles. On a good day, I can probably run six miles without dying. And if a guy with a gun decides to chase me, I can probably eke out 9-10 miles, so long as he doesn’t run faster than a 12-minute mile.
But I don’t feel like a RUNNER.
- I want to be one of those people who jumps up in the morning and thinks “Huzzah! I get to go running” instead of “Please, please let it rain so I don’t have to go running.”
- I want to enjoy the act of putting one foot in front of another at a rapid pace instead of feeling like it’s a chore I’m crossing off my list.
- I want to feel like I’m flying, not like a stampeding elephant, unless it’s a stampeding elephant with wings. I suppose that would be okay.
I’ve been running on-and-off for nearly three years now, and I’ve definitely made progress. But I don’t feel like a RUNNER. I don’t enjoy running the way I enjoy biking or hiking. I wonder if those people are born. I wonder if there’s a running gene I missed out in the crapshoot that is the gene pool, or if it’s possible to become one of those people one day.
I don’t know. For now, I continue to put one foot in front of the other and pray I don’t humiliate myself in my first 5K race next month.