If I could personify running, she would be the big sister I never had. Except sometimes it feels like I get all of the bickering and none of the cool stuff like sharing clothes.
She teased and tormented me during my younger years. I was always the last kid to finish the ten long Presidential Physical Fitness laps around the blacktop track at my elementary school, unsure which hurt worse, my lungs or my pride. And I learned the distance between the foul poles at my high school softball field well as my punishment for staring at the football players during summer practice.
Running picked at my surface, exposed my weaknesses, and then made me do one more lap for good measure. To put it plainly, it wasn’t fun because I almost always came in last. And I like to win – or at least beat somebody.
Then I met my husband who taught me that running could actually be kind of fun once I got past the proverbial wall. Oh, the dreaded wall. The only thing good about the dreaded wall is that it unites all runners by their mutual desire to dropkick it right between its invisible eyes. Anyway, I found myself running by choice, signing up for races for fun, and I think that made all the difference. It didn’t matter who I was up against or how fast I went; it was just me and the road.
Now that a sapphire-eyed baby girl has entered our world, I have a new motivation to run. I run because I want to be strong for her. Because I’ve learned that nobody can create a healthy lifestyle for you; it’s your choice and your choice alone. And ultimately, because I never, ever want the words “Do as I say and not as I do” to escape from my mouth. It’s a huge responsibility, knowing that my actions affect her ever-evolving decision-making process. I can’t hope to be perfect, but I can teach her to be strong. The rest is between her and God.
Like many sisters, my relationship with running has ultimately matured with time. I’ve learned to respect it, to do my part to nurture it. Yes, we still have our disagreements. We always will. But after an extended period of time apart, we always pick right back up where we left off. And once again, I find there’s nothing like pounding a few miles of pavement to clear my mind and make all seem right in the world.
I may never be the fastest off the blocks, but I run because it’s a necessary part of me. Maybe it’s always been in my blood, huffing and puffing through team “suicide” drills and all.
As the old adage says, you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your sisters. Or something like that.
Laurie Tomlinson is a wife, new mom, and publicist living in Tulsa with the man of her dreams, their sweet-natured baby girl, and a rambunctious yellow Lab puppy. She chronicles her adventures in parenting, cooking, and intentional living at TheCornerSliceBlog.com and on Twitter.