My 10 year runniversary is late April 2017. I do not know the exact date.
My first 5K was August 18, 2007. I won first place in my age group. I was the only runner in my age group. I was, in fact, completely, walloping, way, way last in the entire event. Yet, I was so proud. Uh huh, I was hooked on this running thing. I mean, “how hard could it be?” I mused, “I came in last and still won a trophy.”
My 43 year writeaversary has come and gone, I suppose. I do not know the exact date.
I have written poems, essays, stories and letters since fourth grade. When I was in fourth and fifth grade, I was reading Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene. Like many girls my age, I kept track of the numbers on the books to see how many I read. I had an entire dresser drawer full of those yellow spined books, all in numerical order. #43 was “The Mystery of the 99 Steps,” my favorite.
Those covers still look spooky and mysterious. They draw me in, and with a smile, I remember a little girl who could not wait to start a new book about her heroine. Nancy Drew was glamorous, tenacious, independent and confident– all the things my ten year old self longed to be.
Running helped develop these traits. Well, except for the glamorous part. Uh, I can not find too much glamor in being so drenched in sweat it takes a contortionist to pull your bra over your head. But the other traits, being tenacious and confident, yep, running has helped me be both. Nancy showed me what being tenacious and confident looked like, but running helped me be both of them.
I found I could set a goal and slowly, methodically work toward achieving it. First, the goal was to run around the block without walking. Second, the goal was to run a 5K before my forty-fourth birthday. For a couple of years I was running at least a race a month. Distance did not matter. I ran 5K’s, 10K’s, half and full marathons. (Have not run an ultra yet, but not to worry…).
Each completed race gave me confidence, and the finisher’s medal was concrete proof I could set a goal and achieve it. Whatever the race distance was, that experience, was all mine. No one can finish a race for you.
I have two older brothers, fourteen and fifteen years older than me. My brothers were outstanding high school and college athletes. They played football, basketball and were offered baseball scholarships. You name it, they could play it. My brothers were popular, athletic and good looking.
By the time I came around, I think my parents were tired! Tired of all the traveling, sitting on bleachers, and for my mother, doing laundry, athletics was not a topic even introduced, let alone promoted, to me. Besides, I was a girl, not competitive by nature, but bookish and introverted.
“The parents we had are not the same ones you had,” my brothers tell me.
But my oldest brother gave me a gift one day. He does not even know it. After I completed my first marathon, he said, “Well, you have done something no one else in the family has done. You have the right temperament (read stubborn) to run a marathon.”
I finally did something (athletic) my brothers did not do. It still makes me happy.
I loved Nancy Drew so much, I started writing Patty Colbrook mysteries. I remember sitting at the dining room table trying meticulously to fashion Patty into a Nancy, as much as a fourth grader could, I suppose.
I grew. Patty left me, of course, but writing did not. This summer I submitted an essay on running to a writing contest. The piece fit the “rules,” but did not fit the audience. I knew the mismatch when I pressed “send.” Rule no. 1 (or so), know your audience, but the words came out of me, and I guess I did not care enough about the contest to change them.
I am grateful for Nancy and Patty. I am grateful for my parents not promoting sport to me as I was able to, in my own way and time, find myself and the sport for me. I am grateful for words and brothers and all that carries me most assuredly forward to another run.