Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dressing Out

I hated P.E. in high school. HATED. P.E. As if I wasn’t awkward enough in high school, P.E. brought every one of my insecurities into the open like one of those magnifying mirrors that we all love and hate. At our high school, we had to “dress out” for gym. Dressing out equaled a pair of very long, green and gold, scratchy synthetic shorts and a grey t-shirt. Of course, there were some girls who managed to make this drab, baggy poly-blend look cute. Regrettably, I was not one of them. Already feeling “less than,” this uniform only added to the problem. The phrase “look good, feel good” can also be the opposite. “Look bad, feel worse.”

Dressed in this sorry get-up, we were led out to a track like lambs to the slaughter. Too dramatic? You weren’t there. You don’t know. We were forced to do “fitness tests,” and I was not fit. We had to do sit-ups, sprints, pull-ups, push-ups and run that blessed mile around the track. I hated that friggin mile. I would almost always come in last. I hated to run, and actually refused to do it. Instead I walked the whole thing, cursing under my breath.

The truth of it is that I believed that I hated to run. And to dig deep into my teenage psyche, my insecurities about myself generated the lie that I was not capable of such a task. But I was, and I am. A year ago I found out that I can run, that I can finish races, and that in fact, I really, really like it. I don't have to be the fastest, or the smallest, or have done the most races. I just have to run. Just for me.

Today I ran 16 miles. SIX.TEEN. miles. So, Take That Coach, whatever your name was, that frowned at me for my 16 minute walk around the track! There were several points on this morning's run that I thought I couldn’t make it. That I wanted to stop and hitchhike back to my car. The insecure girl in the ugly uniform would have stopped, but I’m not that girl anymore. Instead I believe that, in the words of my husband, or whoever it is that he is quoting, “You can choose to be the victim. Or you can choose to be anything else you want to be.”

I choose to be a runner.

And, I run for dessert.

Today's dessert:

Red Velvet Whoopie Pie from Alcove Cafe in Los Feliz, CA

*I am 11 short weeks away from my first marathon. On October 25th, I will cross the finish line of a 26.2 mile race.


  1. As a VB Public School student I can attest that none of the things you said were anything less than absolutely true. PE sucks. Running in PE sucks worse. Fitness Tests? The epitome of embarrassment and shame (for me). Running for dessert? Oh so sweet.

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