One of the last episodes of this season of Lost (the best show in the history of television) featured the Hobbit guy making a list of the five best moments in his life. Supposedly that was also done in High Fidelity, but it still made for a cool scenario. After talking about the idea, Aaron and I came to the conclusion that it’s probably impossible to come up with the five greatest moments, but it’s pretty nice to try making a list of good moments. What I discovered in trying to list those moments is that it’s tough to sum up an experience in a single line, but since this journal is meant to be a way not only for me to keep in touch with people but also to record moments that I want to remember in years to come, I’d like to occasionally add entries about times that for one reason or another left a lasting and memorable impression. So in no particular order…
I was in the seventh grade, I was on the track team, and I had finally discovered a sport that I was good at. During my elementary school years recess meant being picked last for whatever sport we were playing – football, soccer, kickball, whatever, I was last pick. And it sucked. And then one day the gym teacher had everyone run around the block, and I wasn’t last. From there things improved steadily, and by the seventh grade I had a tentative grip on the position of best distance runner in the school, which when you’re thirteen seems like a pretty big deal. Of course, I realized that most kids didn’t care about distance running, but after years of being last pick the fact that people knew my name because I was a runner was a night-and-day improvement to me.
So that’s the background to a Spring workout in which Coach divided everyone up and had us run the quarter mile. I was a miler, and most of the team was faster than me at the quarter, so I lined up expecting to finish in the middle of the pack in the best case scenario. Coach yelled for us to start, and sure enough at about the halfway point I was fairly far back of the leaders, who were tearing along at a solid clip. And then it happened. Standing at the side of the track and screaming AT ME was Betsey, a family friend who I’d known since the third grade, and one of the only girls who ever passed me notes in classes. As I went by her she yelled at an insane volume “MOVE YOUR BUTT”, and she yelled it AT ME. I was already struggling, but knowing that someone was paying attention to me, out of everyone running, was motivation enough that I picked it up a bit. Running now at a speed I wasn’t sure I could sustain I saw that the runners ahead of me were getting noticeably closer. Despite feeling fairly distressed I dug a bit deeper and realized I might have a chance of catching them. And finally, not knowing if my legs would turn to mush before the finish line I made a final effort. And I beat the rest of the runners.
Running is all about limits. When you first begin your brain always thinks it can do more than the body is ready for, and the reality involves a lot of pain and often some humiliation. However, as you get into shape the body allows you to go places you didn’t know you could reach, at the cost of a great deal of pain. On that day I realized that there were different levels of pain involved in running, and that only by pushing well past what I thought I could handle did I discover what I was actually capable of. And along the way a cute girl with a ton of energy had cheered me on, and I didn’t feel like the last pick anymore.