Tuesday, March 06, 2012

A Mile in my Shoes

They stand and wait.  Some of them are laughing, whether it is at me or just at something else I can't tell.  Some boys are bored and starting to scuffle and rough house.  The teacher glances down at the stop watch doing his best not to look visibly annoyed.  No one seems out of breath.

I glance ahead at the lap of soccer field left before me: The rest of the daunting one mile run. 


It isn't as if the rest of gym class was a cake walk either - it is the dreaded Presidential Fitness Test day.

I've already put up the lowest number of situps.  I couldn't do a single pull up.  I stretched so far my legs burned on the Sit and reach but short arms still make that "score" seem too low.

People glance away when it is my turn, they don't want to show that they are embarrassed for me, but I know.  I know that I am the last.  The weakest.  The slowest.

And then it begins.  The mile.

We trudge out to the soccer field to run our laps around it in the grass.  We all start at the same time and I valiantly try to run, but without fail I'm winded by half a lap.  As if I have no control of my limps I slow to a walk, a hand on the stitch in my side.

As I keep trying to push my speed other kids start lapping me, laughing as they run effortlessly by.

I wish I were invisible.

But I'm not, the passing continues until I am the last one on the course.  I bravely try to run it in, afraid if I don't keep going I will collapse in a puddle of tears.


I cross the line, with my eyes only on my feet, afraid to meet anyone's gaze.  The teacher turns and starts to bring the class inside.  We're running late, because of me.  We head inside with me at the back.  There is no time to catch my breath so I huff and I puff and try to keep up without people knowing how tired and winded I am.

I try not to take the numbers in, I don't want to know.  I'm good at math.  If I know the numbers I can calculate how much slower I am than my peers.  First by just the easy math, later by percentages and medians and bell curves.  No matter how I manipulate the data the truth is that I am the slowest.

As horrible as the experience is there is part of me that is gleeful in that moment.  For the fact remains that I am now another year away from repeating that whole experience yet again.  It never gets any easier, but at least I can block the horrible memory out until next time.


Now I'm 32.  The mile stands in front of me like a beacon of failure.  But I'm not waiting for another year, and another horrible realization of my weakness.

I am stronger than I think and this year the mile is going down.



Kate Hopper said...

You can do it! And I'm so proud of you for getting this moment down so gracefully. I really felt like I was in your shoes! Brava!

Jen said...

You can do this. I believe in you! You inspire me!

Challenge:1yearnorestaurants said...

You have me tearing up right now full of hope for the future. I love you for sharing such a personal story but I love you more for turning this UNO something positive... Thanks so much for keeping me going. I owe you big.

Valerie said...

Wow. Just wow. That was some powerful stuff.

If you ever need any help or want any advice, I'm no expert, but I'm more than willing to share what I've learned. I can also share some great resources with you, if you're interested.

Best of luck, and lots of love to you!

Laura P said...

You can so run that mile Liz and kick it's butt.

So much of what you wrote about the younger years, I can relate to. I don't think I ever truly finished the 1 mile run in the run fashion. I ended up walking most of it.

Love how this is written. You are an amazing woman Liz.

Kat said...

One of my most vivid memories from elementary school was running the mile. They told us that we were running a mile (wait...what?) and I had absolutely no idea of what that meant. AT ALL. I finished last, sweaty, miserable and embarrassed.

I will never forget that first "formal" running experience.

This is your year.

Sabrina said...

I hated those dreaded days in school! Oh it was torture! Just today I ran 2 miles... slow and steady!

You are awesome, Liz!! *hugs*

Ivey League Mama said...

I want to stand up and cheer for you!

Amelia Sprout said...

You can do it. I did it. I will do it again. I was the slowest, the one who couldn't breathe (too me until I was 32 to get an asthma diagnosis), who "failed". You can do this. We're all here to support you when you need us.

Heather of the EO said...

Wow, Liz. This is SO beautifully written. It brought me back because I was always the weakest and least coordinated and last picked. I hadn't considered how maybe that holds me back from running, too. Not that this is about me, I'm just letting you know it resonated. I felt this. Thank you. You are so strong. And also--you probably kicked ass when it came to all things numbers and words. Those other kids felt small and you aced it all. :)

Galit Breen said...

Ohmygoodness, I have chills!

This? Is amazing. And relatable. And important.

But mostly: Go. For. It!!

Pastor Amelia said...

Powerful self-disclosure. Brilliant writing. Inspiring as usual. That mile is SO going down.

Momma Hunt said...

I love this and I can't help but get emmotional because I remember those days in which I hated this! Because I would be last or close to last every time. I am turning 32 and maybe this is my year to run a mile too!

Also on an unrelated note the hs that I teach in has a pool and one a year the kids have to do swimming and i just bring thinking about what it would have been like for me (despite the fact I am an awesome swimmer) that I would have had to get into a bathingsuit infront of my peers. Yikes