The above title is a line of one of my favorite songs by Sallie Ford and The Sound Outside. And it is a great description of my childhood. When I was young, I ran because I wanted to. No one told me I had to run on the track team. I wasn’t pressured into running cross country. Running was a sport I began on my own free will. And there were definitely other activities I participated in where that was not the case. While I always recognize my father as my biggest influence in running (he ran numerous road races and marathons during my childhood), I also recognize that running was my choice, and my choice alone.
But the choice did not come without opposition. I remember being invited to join the middle school cross country team by a male acquaintance. When I got cold feet and didn’t show up to the first meeting, he saw me in the hall and called me a Bitch. There’s motivation for you. Or the time I was running a local 5K the summer before my junior year. I had been seeing a guy I worked with who had just graduated, and was also a cross country runner. “Maybe you just shouldn’t run,” he told me. I never forgot that. And I went out for the high school cross country team the month after.
What I like to believe is that with all the negative energy that crossed my path, I used it as my personal launch pad, if you will. Give me a negative, and I’ll turn it into a positive. I wasn’t the best runner in high school or college. But I continued to pursue my dream. A dream that began inside a little seven year-old girl and blossomed 19 years later as I crossed the finish line of my first marathon. But that was just the beginning. The person I became after my first marathon was the person I always knew I could be. I finally had my first taste of success, and there was no going back.
I want to share that with all the girls and women who feel like people are standing in their way, telling them to give up. I want to tell my daughter that she can do anything she puts her mind to, and if she works hard, there is nothing she can’t do.
And to never, ever let anyone tell her to get over it.