I was in maybe sixth grade and very much in the stage of coming home after school, grabbing a big snack bowl, and watching TV. The private school that I attended for K-8 only had basketball, volleyball, and eventually soccer. (And cheerleading, but that’s all I’m saying about that.) This being the case, I had basically zero interest in anything athletic – not because it didn’t appeal to me, but because it didn’t occur to me.
That summer, I went with my mom to watch my dad run a local 5k. With building excitement I watched him start the race in the middle of the pack, caught him at the halfway point, and finally cheered him through the finish. I remember being there at the finish line, surrounded by sweaty runners (who, my mom warned me, might spit), and thinking something along the lines of, “Wow, this looks really fun and exciting, I want to try it!” So as soon as we got home, I took off jogging around my subdivision in some cotton shorts and a t-shirt. I probably two miles, maybe a little more. The heat and the fact that I had never really run before left me hot and sweaty, but bursting with pride, as I did a little sprint to my driveway. My parents were sitting on the porch; I walked up to them and told them that I’d just run around the subdivision. “The whole way?” they asked. “Yep!” I said. I can just see my sixth-grade self puffing up with joy. The rest of that summer, I ran a couple times a week, just doing loops around the pond in our subdivision (about half a mile). I’d go around that two or three times. When my dad got home from work, I’d run up to him and say, “Hi daddy! I ran around the pond three times today!” And he’d smile and say Good Job and generally encourage me; my mom did too, as she was getting back into running around that time as well.
Unfortunately, I trailed off once school started, although once I did go out and run around the pond 10 times, with Guns N Roses on repeat. I was so proud of that. Every time I went by, our neighbors across the street would ask how many loops I had done. I don’t remember how long it took, but when I told my parents, they didn’t believe me at first. When I told my friends at school the next day that I’d run five miles, they were amazed. (I get that reaction to my running nowadays too.)