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Running While Big – Part 2

Girl in running gear 1981

 

My earliest experiences with running were associated with PE class. In elementary school, we had to do the 50 yard dash as part of the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge. Of all the events–situps, push ups, pull ups–the 50 yard dash was my strongest category.

In middle school, we began running laps, or at our school “running the park,” the perimeter of a small, two-square-mile green space adjacent to our school. We suited up in our maroon and gold gym uniforms and were told, “Take a lap.” That was the extent of our running training–take a lap. No guidance on pace, form, posture, stretching–nada, niente, zip.

So, I approached running a mile like I approached running the 50 yard dash–going from zero to as fast as I could for as long as I could. The results were neither pleasant nor pretty.  I was hyperventilating and ready to pass out before we hit the first corner.

By eighth grade I had developed chest pains when I ran the park, and I was never so happy as when the doctor wrote me the glorious note excusing me from running in gym. Better a heart condition that to have run that damn park one more time. Given that running made me feel like I was going into cardiac arrest, I figured that it wasn’t my sport.

Through the subsequent years I played tennis, backpacked, biked, and walked on a regular basis, but I would have never considered running. [Continued in Part 3]

Missed the beginning? Read Part 1.

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