I am sister #2 in a family of four girls. Just as each of us are not immediately recognizable as sisters until we smile and you clearly see that we all come from the same orthodontist, we have different histories when it comes to physical fitness. One thing that strikes me is that we all, at some point in our high school athletic careers, earned a "Most Improved" or "Most Inspirational" award. What this tells me is that we have a common thread of solid work ethic, perseverance (there's that word, Sara!) and the ability to project a positive attitude to those around us even while doing crappy things like running sprint rotations along the local graveyard foot path.
My journey with physical fitness began in junior high and developed at my high school's gravel track. Yes gravel track. I was 5'4" and not exactlly built for any sort of athletics. Too short for basketball, too timid for volleyball, and too uncoordinated for field events in track. But my parents expected me to be involved in something and it was either being stuck in the stinky band room where the conductor turned a blind eye to the trombone section letting their spit roll onto the carpet (Ewwwww!), I realized I had to get outside and run. I had some low points, the most traumatizing of which was getting depantsed by Kenny Mitchell in 7th grade while running the all-team warm-up mile in track. Kenny was a crude, loud-mouthed, shot-put and discus guy who came from one of those mysterious single-mom homes and often resorted to what I know now is called negative attention. But, I managed to pull my pants and self-esteem off of the asphalt and realized that the best way to avoid the pranksters was to run away from them to the head of the pack.
By the time 9th grade rolled around I landed with my people: a group of quirky cross country kids who bonded while running along creekbeds and mountain trails. I learned about proper foot-fall, finding your stride, elbowing out the competition on a slim trail corridor, and mental stamina when the road literally got rough. I also began to run as a way to escape the things my adolescent self couldn't face. I ran from the pain of my first break-up, the disappointment of not being invited to the cool house parties, and from the way-over-my-head emotional fall-out of dating a guy who drank too much. In college, I ran to escape the shame of failing freshman year. In my 20s, I would wake in the pre-dawn hours and run away from facing that I had married the wrong guy. And then, post-divorce and in my late-20s and early-30s, running--with girlfriends, in 5K and 12K races, or the famous Hood to Coast relay--was my only healthy choice in an otherwise hearty diet of working too much, tequila shots, one-night-stands, and a string of relationships with guys that made Kenny Mitchell look like a real catch.
By my late-30s, I was ready for a change. I moved away from my hometown and to a major university to pursue my PhD. I also met and married the anti-Kenny Mitchell and did grown-up things like buying our first home and starting a family. I felt happy and confident. Loved and respected. Good in my own skin. But I stopped running. I had finally outrun everything I had been trying to escape. Instead of waking early to get out of an unhappy house, I wanted to hit snooze and hunker down with the man I loved. No longer focusing on being skinny enough to score some lovin' at a bar, I traded running for lounging on the couch and drinking coffee on Sunday mornings and enjoying long dinners at our favorite local restaurants. And then baby came and all bets were off for the growing belly fat.
Which brings me to the present: I am quintessentially "fat and happy". A blissful 192 pounds, to be exact. I can't remember the last time I ran a mile. I still remember how to achieve a proper stride and footfall. More important, I remember that euphoria that comes from having finished a run. But I don't know how to flip the script and run toward my own good health and longevity.
Enter my "sole sister" who also happens to be my biological sister #3. She is a runner too, and in true "most inspirational" fashion is inspiring me to get off the couch and on the road again. Tune in for her story and then we'll take you along, separated by miles but connected at the laces, as we make a run for good health.