As I gathered up the enormous pile of clothes I was bringing to combat the elements at my first half marathon tomorrow, I found myself looking at everything there and thinking there was no way that could all be mine. Those things surely belong with some faster, fitter, more confident person.
Never mind that those shoes have carried me almost 300 miles or that I've had that yellow rain jacket since college. I felt like such a poser, like this race was for anyone but me. In the course of processing all of this, I ended up dragging out my junior high yearbook (Go Vikings!) and forcing poor Christian to look at the PE teacher who was so discouraging to me. In 7th grade (aka the year where halfway through I got all self conscious and realized my many, many limits) I ran for student council, having no notion that I wasn't one of the cool kids and stood no chance. I tried out for basketball in sixth grade because my best friend wanted to, which is hilarious in hindsight given my complete lack of coordination. I'd heard on the announcements on our school TV show (we were SO cool!) that cross country was starting up. I asked my PE teacher if anyone could join the team and she said "Not anyone as slow as you!" Maybe she was having a bad day, maybe I was an annoying 12-year-old who complained in PE too much. For some reason, although she wasn't even the coach of the team, I let that convince me that I shouldn't even try. Looking back I'm pretty sure cross country was a no cut sport, so why she would be discouraging to a girl about sports as a PE teacher is beyond me. This was less than two decades after Title IX passed -- school sports were supposed to let girls learn that they had potential! I moved my focus to the things that came easily, that brought me immediate praise. It wasn't until college that I started going to the gym and got bored of step aerobics and finally decided to step outside and run.
So, tomorrow, this one's for Mrs. T and all the other kids who didn't think they could hack being athletic. I may still have many, many limits. At least now I can talk myself into ignoring them.