When I was in elementary school, we had this fitness program come through the schools each spring. The teachers posted a gianormous poster in the hall that charted each student’s progress on a variety of fitness tests. At the end, you were awarded these embroidered badges–bronze, silver, gold and maybe something for the superstars called “excellence” or something.
I hated the Canada Fitness program. It didn’t matter how hard I tried, I only ever squeaked by into the bronze category, which at least spared me the ignominy of going up to the stage to receive a “participation” pin, but still. Bronze. I consoled myself that as far as anyone else knew, I’d just barely missed silver–and a lot of students significantly more athletic than I did just that. I don’t think anyone kept their badges.
In junior high, I started a program of running around Nicholas Sheridan lake on the crushed lava rock paths(5.8 km). I told myself that if I tried hard enough, long enough, I’d surprise everyone that knew me.
I tried–possibly not long enough, I don’t know; the Canadian winter had a way of cutting short most outside activities. I’ll blame it on that. I don’t think I ever improved enough to even make it around the lake once .
I got married, had kids, began walking routines sporadically and dropped them. Running? Hahahahaha. Yeah right. I am simply not an athlete, I decided.
Until July, when I came home from the cabin and got on the scale.
I’m going to come out an say it. One hundred and forty three pounds. I weighed that much going in to give birth to my first child. Going in. Nine months bloated.
NOT good. Horrifying, in fact.
Not to mention that school was starting in less than a month and I had nothing to wear because, well, my youngest child is seven years old and you tend to ditch the maternity clothes at a some point.
So I started walking. And watching what I ate. Lost some weight (128.8 this morning, thank you) and started punching new holes in my belt.
And I started running.
The first time, out of my entire three mile walk, I ran from one driveway to another. The lots out here are about 125 feet wide, just to give you an idea of how far that is. I thought I was going to die. Every day I ran a few steps further. At some point I realized that the first thing I searched frantically for after my outings was my inhaler.
Yesterday I took it before I went running. Even though I didn’t feel like I needed it.
It was amazing. Take that, Canada Fitness Bronze. I was flying and alive. Okay, maybe I was only flying for the last half mile–but I’ve never run so far in my life, and I’m thirty four years old. I didn’t know my body could do that.
I was staring at the ceiling last night thinking–what if? What if a woman my age could really change her physical makeup? How far could I run in a year from now, if I don’t let winter get in my way? What, really, am I capable of?