Officially a Runner

At primary school, I always came last on school sports day. At high school, I used to dread the summer – the hot weather meant outdoor PE, which inevitably meant athletics. That of course meant that eventually, the 800 meters would come around. I’d be at the back again, struggling to breathe but determined not to drop out like many of the others. A year ago, when my best friend suggested a 10K run, I laughed in her face.

12 weeks ago though, I signed up for the Race for Life. Three weeks ago, I still couldn’t run more than 2K, and today was the first time I ever ran a full 10K. Today was race day.

My plan to keep on running went out of the window. Wait, no, that’s not what I mean! I ran it all, and I did it in an amazing 1 hour and 11 minutes, but I didn’t use all the tips I made for myself. I simply read people’s back signs, chatted to a few people along the way, and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. A few times, I turned around to see someone just slowing to a walk, and I said ‘Come on, you can do it.’ The smile that they gave me in return spurred me on, and when at one point someone turned around and said the same to me, I smiled too.

At 8K, I began to worry that I hadn’t spotted my best friend yet. She promised that she’d come back for me, and she hadn’t. What if something had happened to her? At 9K, I got angry. She must have finished by now, where on earth was she? I’d never ever say this out loud, but all that had kept me going from the 5K point was the knowledge that she would come back for me, and we’d finish together. I was exhausted but under no circumstance was I going to let her down. With about 500m to go, I was just coming to terms with the fact that I’d have to finish without her, and suddenly, she popped up. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so hard in all my life. We did it, we crossed the line together, we crossed the line hand in hand, and we crossed the line at a sprint. I was so happy with myself and I couldn’t help but pull her into a hug.

‘See,’ she said later. ‘I came back for you, didn’t I?’ She knows. She knows exactly how much I had resting on that, and how much it meant to me. ‘You could have done if without me though, you ran it all, and you didn’t even need me!’ I just wish that I’d asked the question that was lurking in my head. I didn’t, because even now, I’m still a little afraid of what the answer might be.

‘You will always come back for me, won’t you? Always?’

Now though, I’m a runner. And you know what makes me know for sure? The thing that made me finally decide? I got back into the car, started driving home, and a few minutes later, I said ‘So, are we still running this Saturday?’

Three months ago, I would have never EVER have even dreamed of saying that.

Living. Laughing. Loving.

alex122rw

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