I’m a track and field dropout.
In high school I would see the athletes wearing their matching outfits on game days and be envious of their matching team shirts and decided I wanted to join a sports team. The issue was I didn’t do any sports.
What sport could I do without any prior knowledge? I settled on running. Specifically hurdles.
I started the season and we did these “long” runs and I huffed and puffed my way along hating every single step. I got to my first meet and I sucked. I had no clue what I was doing, was super slow and felt out of place.
A few days after the meet I had to miss practice and asked a friend to tell the coach since I couldn’t find him during the school day. The next morning I was called to his classroom during homeroom and was reprimanded for skipping practice.
“Did Heather tell you I wouldn’t be there?”
“Yes but it’s your responsibility to tell me.”
“You told us that if we couldn’t find you during the day to have a friend tell you so that’s what I did.”
“That’s no excuse.”
“Fine, I quit.”
“That’s–wait…you don’t need…”
“Nope, I quit. I’ll bring you my uniform tomorrow.” I turned around and walked away, a weight lifted from my shoulders.
Fast forward to about 2012. When my oldest was in her second year of preschool one of the moms, who lived too far to go home during school, would go running. She invited me to run with her and I LAUGHED!
“You don’t understand, Mandi, I don’t run.”
She was not only persistent but also extremely patient. She strapped both our younger kids in her double stroller and we ran a mile. I thought I might not make it to the end, it was awful. But Mandi was using my home to park her car while she ran and I went with her.
I finally got her to move into my neighborhood and we ran more. (You are welcome fellow neighbors, she was MY neighborhood recruit!)
I signed up for my first race, the Broad Street Run, a 10 miler in Philly. Then a half marathon. That was it, only crazy people run more than that! But call me crazy, I signed up for a marathon. My one and only marathon.
Except it wasn’t. You can read about that here.
Running is an individual sport you do with others. Personally I’m not in it to win a race, I’m in it to finish. As I run more I do have goals but they are personal ones. What I do find is that runners that I’ve encountered are there to motivate each other. If we see a teammate along the way we motivate them. If someone is struggling we lift them up. We all start the same race in the same place with the same weather; it’s a equalizer.
The Team To End AIDS is where I found my running community, something that I didn’t expect. No one knows I was a track dropout, no one cares how fast or slow I run. We are banded together by a common cause and team mentality to get us to our physical and fundraising goals. Even as a team member from afar I have made connections and friendships that will stand the test of time. The level of support is immense and I feel part of something bigger. This is certainly not what I expected when Mandi first made me run! (And maybe Mandi will join the team someday…no pressure!😂)
If you want to support my run you can find my story and donation link here.