Thursday, January 5, 2017

On Your Marks...

Have you ever sworn off something, just to come back to it later in life and think to yourself, "Look what I've been missing?!”

That's the way I was with running. It was something that I struggled with and never really enjoyed.  I was around smokers growing up, and at some point in time, running began to physically hurt me. It wasn't until college that I was diagnosed with "exercise induced asthma." I mean, I was an athletic kid: softball, basketball… I did plenty of running. I guess it was probably in high school when I noticed I had a decreased lung capacity when running.
My freshmen year, I joined the track team at the behest of my gym teacher (who also happened to be a track coach). You see, we had learned about some field events in gym class. We did a standing triple jump in the hallway one day, and the teacher looked at me like he'd just found a needle in a haystack. Of course, that made me feel pretty good about myself, so I took his recommendation and joined the team.

I foolishly thought that I could join track and field and get away with ONLY doing field events. I wanted nothing to do with the track part. But of course, being a part of track and field required me to run with the rest of the team during practice. I couldn't breathe. I felt like the slowest person, and I hated it. Exercise, especially running, was painful. Not only was I experiencing difficulty breathing, but those first few practices let me know how out of shape I was. I limped away from the first week of practice crying and ready to quit.

I ended up sticking it out and as a freshman I made it to number three on my school's "Top Ten" list for triple jump. That was a pretty huge accomplishment. I was the third best triple jumper my school had ever seen...WOW! Go me! In my freshman year, I also competed in the long jump, the 100 and 200 meter races, and the 4x100 and 4x200 meter relays. I refused to run any distance longer than 200 meters, because I was physically unable to sprint (or breathe) for more than that.  The coach actually tried to put me in a 4x400 meter relay at one meet. I called my dad, asked him to come get me, and I told the coach that I had to go home.

I was on the track team for three years. I opted to not be in track my senior year, because I wanted to be in the Spring musical, Hello, Dolly! It's hard to participate in multiple things when they conflict, and I disliked having to choose between sports and theater. In any case, I traded in my track uniform and running cleats for costumes and character shoes. I thought my running days were over. When I graduated high school, I was convinced I'd never be forced to run again. Boy, was I naive. Little did I know, two years later I would be volunteering to be yelled at to run.

Read the next part to my story here.

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