Does anyone else remember the mile run we had to do every year for the President's physical fitness test? I forget how often we had to do it -twice a year, maybe - but I haven't forgotten how much I dreaded that day. It was torment.
There were always the athletic kids who would finish their four laps of the track in six or eight minutes and they barely looked like they were trying. Then there were the kids who pretended not to or really didn't care and, therefore, walked around the track at a leisurely pace.
Then there were a few kids like me. We wanted to do our best but didn't understand that our bodies were in no condition to sprint. So we would go out hard, at least hard for us, and be completely exhausted before the first lap was behind us. Discouraged by being lapped repeatedly and unable to see a good reason to keep trying, we would stop and walk with our heads down and our chests heaving, trying to ignore the fact that while we were still hauling our bodies around the track, our classmates were sitting around watching.
I think that my best mile time ever was 12 minutes. Despite the fact that eighty percent of my classmates finished well under that time, I was ecstatic. In fact, I even considered going out for track, thinking maybe this running thing could be fun. (Anyway, no one ever got cut from the track team even if she was never chosen to compete.) A few days distance from that run, and the soreness brought on by that single mile on the track, caused me to reconsider my dream of becoming an athlete. I stuck with being the smart kid - I was already good at that, hardly any effort required.
It took nearly fifteen more years before I tried again.
Over the past few months, I've huffed and puffed through many a mile that took more than 12 minutes for me to cover. But now... Now, I can run a single mile in less than ten minutes. I can run 9 at a time, covering each mile in about 11 minutes and 30 seconds. I've run as many as 10.5 miles at one go. And, in about three weeks, I'll be covering 13.1 and getting a medal for doing it.
High school me couldn't believe this was possible. Grown-up runner me knows that I still have plenty of time to get even faster!