Then I did something I’ve been meaning to do ever since I returned to the States this summer. Something I came close to doing a few times, but then I kept chickening out.
I signed up for a race – a 10K in August to benefit Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
This will be my first race since the Great Wall 10K in China. And my first race in the States.
Even though I ran quite a few races in Asia, I’ve always been really intimidated about running a race here in the States.
After all, being the big, fat, slow, white girl was fine in Asia. A lot of people in Asia just kind of expect you to be a big, fat, slow white girl if you’re from America.
What can I say?
I was just living up to their expectations.
People around here probably know that not all white girls run like they’re stuck in five feet of Jello. Really, really thick Jello. The kind that’s probably made out of concrete.
And I’ve let fear – the fear that I’m going to be too slow and too self conscious and too surrounded by people in Spandex who actually know what they’re doing– stop me from signing up for a race.
But, you know what, guys?
Fear can go suck it.
And, cancer can go suck it, too.Growing up, I’d always dreaded doing anything remotely athletic and competitive.
I hated gym class.
I couldn’t kick balls or jump ropes. I couldn’t balance on the balance beam. And the best I could manage to do on the climbing rope was to just kind of hang off the end like a bloated piñata until it became painful for everyone to watch and the gym teacher would take pity on me and let me sit down.
I did join the girl’s lacrosse team in high school. But that was only because it was the only sports team that didn’t require try-outs.
That and the plaid skirts. I was really into the plaid skirts.
I spent the majority of my time on the bench, cheering on my team or faking cramps to get out of actually having to play in a game.
And, my senior year, when the team started requiring try-outs, I didn’t even bother showing up to try out. I told myself I was too busy doing important senior year things. Like reading historical fiction and fake-singing in chorus and having crushes on boys I would never talk to.
I didn’t start running until about ten years ago – and I only started doing it then because it was the only form of exercise I could think of that didn’t require fancy stuff like gym equipment and hand-eye coordination.And then I moved to Japan and started hanging out with runner people.
You know how it is.
You start hanging out with a bunch of runner people. And they somehow convince you that you’re runner people, too. They coerce you into signing up for a race with promises of free t-shirts. And the next thing you know, you’re standing in a parking lot holding a box of freeze-dried fish you just “won” at your first 5K.
(Don’t be too impressed, guys. Everyone “won” fish at that race.)
If you’d told me back in high school that I would one day run a full marathon, I never would have believed you.
In fact, I can hardly believe you now.
I did a what?
Are you sure about that?
Even now I still don’t consider myself a runner. Not like some people are runners.
But doing races has never been about running for me.Doing races has been about defying.
It was about defying every single bad memory of gym class.
It was about defying the dubious looks of my Japanese colleagues and students when I told them I was planning to run a 5K. Then a 10K. Then a half-marathon. Then a full marathon.
It was about defying my mother who would announce I was going to die every time I would announce I was signing up for another race.
It was about defying that little voice in my head. The voice that was always telling me, “You can’t do this. You’re not one of those people. You’re not a runner. You’re too fat. You’re too slow. Listen to your mother — you are going to die! Listen to me! Just give up and go back to your couch already.”
And I’d like to think that running this race in August will be my teeny tiny way of defying the Big, Bad, Horrible Thing that happened in Boston on Monday.
And all the Big, Bad, Horrible Things that happen in the world everyday.
The Big, Bad, Horrible Things that cause us to fear and hate and distrust each other.
The Big, Bad, Horrible Things that make us believe those little voices in our heads – the ones that are telling us that it’s all too scary and we should just give up and go back to our couches already.
Because, you know, what, guys?
Those Big, Bad, Horrible Things?
They can go suck it, too.Do you run races? How did you get your start? Or have you ever wanted to run a race, but haven’t yet? What’s stopping you? (And if you want me to be your pushy runner person friend who coerces you into signing up for a race with promises of free t-shirts, I totally will. Trust me on this.)
P.S. So now that I’ve stopped bugging you about voting for me for the Bloggies, I can start bugging you about donating to my race fundraising, right? Because, uh, I kind of made this ridiculous goal of raising $500 for cancer research. But if anybody can help me reach a ridiculous goal, it’s you guys, amirite or AMIRITE? Let’s totally make this happen, okay?