I love the movie “Never Been Kissed”. For those of you not familiar with the plot Drew Barrymore’scharacter Josie Gellar goes back to high school to try to get a great story and realize her dreams of becoming a writer. Nerdy and unpopular she sees this as opportunity to finally hang with the cool kids. Alas, her true nature shines on the first day and she ends up an outcast once again. Her brother, on the other hand, was an athlete and uber popular. When she goes to him for advice, he tries a little positive feedback to replace her negative messages. She screams at the top of her lungs, “I’m not Josie Grossie anymore!” It is my favorite part of the movie, well maybe second to the ending.
I know her pain. I was the fat kid. Elementary school was especially painful. I believe my disdain for running started there with the presidential physical fitness tests.
I am sure everyone knows the tests I am talking about. I did great at the sit and reach and didn’t care that I couldn’t do a pull up because none of other girls could either. It was the mile run that vexed me from the start.
I would start with good intentions, but after a few yards my throat and lungs would burn and I felt as though I couldn’t breathe. My legs would get so tired and I would walk. By walking most of the way I was always among the last to finish. My classmates would be long done, waiting on me to finish before anything else could be done. It was humiliating and discouraging.
That humiliation followed me for many years after. Even after I started to get healthier, I avoided running at all costs. I love to cycle and I will walk as many miles as you ask, I would say, but please don’t ask me to run. I couldn’t get the image of that chubby struggling girl out of my mind, feeling that I would always be her.
One day I was congratulating someone online on their running progress. I said I could walk a 5K but never run one. I shouldn’t have opened my big mouth. The inevitable challenge came. If I could walk it with no problem, she wrote on my page, running it should be no big deal. I thought about it awhile. I thought to myself, you know what she’s right.
So the 5K I had signed up to walk now became a run. The first day of training was okay. I walked the straight part of the path and ran the curves. I did that for a few days. Then I realized I would actually have to do a complete lap if I was going to make any progress. I had to challenge myself to do that which I thought I couldn’t do.
For a few minutes it was like I was eight years old in P.E. all over again. It was hard to breath and my shins hurt a little. I started having the negative dialogue in my head, giving myself all the reasons why this was a bad idea. Then another voice came through. It was the mature healthy woman in me who said, “You aren’t that little girl anymore. You can do anything you put your mind to.” So I kept going. She was right, I could do it. Every day I would run just a little bit further, walk a little bit less.
Before the big day I had only managed to do 2 miles. When I woke up last Saturday, the morning of the run, I was a little nervous. I kept telling myself that I could do anything, saying “I’m not the fat girl anymore!”. All I had to do was believe in myself and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I had a good breakfast, plenty of water and made sure I had inspirational music on my iPod. It was now or never, put up or shut up.
I am proud to report I did it. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty, but I ran the whole thing. I didn’t walk one step, just a steady pace right to the finish line. I was bursting with pride. I told my husband I wanted a sticker that said “I ran a 5k today” just like the one you get when you vote. I know now that I am no longer that unhealthy, overweight and frightened girl. I can do anything I set my mind to and I believe you can too.