Running with Children.

6 Sep

Well, I’m old. 


Someone should tell her those things will kill her.

Okay, maybe not officially, World Health Organization definition of 65 years and older to even start the cusp of old-old, but my body is no long what it once was.

And what my body once was was resilient. Oh, the days when it used to bounce back, and no, I’m not talking about the jiggle moving in waves around me; I’m talking days of recovery in place of weeks; hours of pain in place of days; minutes of exhaustion in place of hours. It seemed, as long as I was somewhat good to my body, the process of putting it to the task of exhaustive runs and trainings would be withstood for, well, ever, with little to no consequence. 

Image (What I think I look like running at all times)

Then, one surpasses the age of 25 and the preverbal “shit” starts to hit the “fan” in means of the processes of your body working like a functioning machine. I shall quote  China Achebe who quoted a line from Yeats: “Things fall apart.” It’s truth when you get old … like death and taxes. 


If you haven’t been an avid reader, then you haven’t noticed an almost 2 week lapse in posting last month. I took a self-imposed exile from all things running because of a consistent injury I kept aggravating. Rather than cross training, or tapering down my runs, I decided to just abstain all together and give my body the time it needed to heal … which was the most difficult part of training I’ve ever had to experience. 

Mentally, I needed a break as well. I had to stop myself from putting the FGR pressure on to write about what I was going through every minute. Most of it was boring and can be broken down to the following bulleted list:

  • I don’t want to gain weight
  • I’m so hungry all the time
  • I have to keep moving so I don’t lose endurance
  • I hope I’m not screwing all the progress I’ve made
  • I really want chocolate
  • NO alcohol … at all … for real
  • It’s such nice running weather
  • Are these pants tighter today
  • How much longer until I can run again
  • Repeat list above

A bit pathetic, but all me. This is some of what I worried about when I wasn’t running. I won’t bore you with all of it, but this grabbed the tops of my attention span. 

Hurray, I am now back in shape enough to run again, and wouldn’t you know it, I thought the greatest thing to do would be to run with the local Cross Country kids. Yep, I really thought that. “What a great idea” <— that actually went through my mind. Then I showed up for practice … 


We started the same way everyone does–stretching. As we were stretching, Coach was telling the kiddies about training tips, what was coming up in the following week, and how they would select captains. 

As part of conditioning, which was every other day (guess which day I showed up on), we did sit-ups and push-ups as well–hurray. Then there was the breakdown of time groups: 5 minute mile, 6 minute mile, 7 minute mile, 8 minute and everyone else. I could not even fathom the first group. I thought about the length of time it would take to warm something up in the microwave … say, an organic burrito. This would take about 5 minutes. So, I could make dinner OR I could run a mile. Crazy.


Mmm, tastes like the mile.


I got in the last group close to the back, and started off with everyone else.  There’s something about teenagers that always makes me think I can be like them if I’m around them. Not like, wearing tights for pants, or twerking, or yoloing or what have you, but looking at the grace and gazelle like structure they have to their stride makes me believe that I can again achieve that cadence in run. 

This is an illusion of an unrealistic woman who is stuck in a fantasy of yesteryear. After clamping down a narrow path, we came the “rolling hills.”  WHY do people name  jagged, un-Godly, annoying, painful hills rolling hills? It’s not like they’re moving. We’re moving, or trying to, up and down them.

And so I went, at a mediocre pace, and a slower pace, and a frustrated pace, over tree stumps, and limbs, through tall grasses, and small boulders (or stones, whatever), down the dry ravine, up the side of the dry ravine, following the pre-placed arrows guiding me to and fro, and hopefully back from whence I came. 

Image I did like running across the bridges.


I felt okay, not too fat for a Fat Girl Running. The kids, although confused by my presence, never once questioned me and were happy to have someone older who liked to run around. I didn’t look like I could hold up for more than 5 minutes, but I did, and so they accepted me. Then, I found them in the forest …

I was just cursing the person who decided it was a great decision to put steps into the side of a hill that had the angle of a ladder when I saw two girls just barely running toward me. 

“Hey, school’s that way.”

“Oh, thank GOD. We got lost.”

“Turn around. See the arrows.”

“Yeah, but there are arrow here too”

“But they aren’t white. We started with white, so we should follow those … right?”

I wasn’t really sure, but neither were they, and they were tired. I could tell they had probably circled the area for a while. We made it down a narrow pass, and through a clearing toward one last, damn hill to the last stretch of flat land and the end. And do you know what happened? Can you even guess what happened? These spritely, svelte, adorable, twigs who could have beat me in the Shuttle Run in gym class without even trying started to WALK. All I could think was what?

“What? Keep going girls. We’re almost there, and you can’t be slower than the oldest person running.”

They laughed a breathy, hard laugh, and picked it up. Granted, their walk was my struggling jog, but I got those girls moving to the end. FGR-1 (minus 150 million cool points), skinny kids-1/2 point.


I have to say, I kind of impressed myself. While not many of us would ever want to go back to 17 and the intensity of feeling judged, and awkward, and uncomfortable, it was nice to go a time where all you had to do was show you had the same earnest interest and you were in. I ran my best, showed up at the end, stretched and went home. And though I shall be sore for far more days than they will, I will at least be able to self-medicate my pain with fun adult beverages and not have to stay up writing an essay on Yeats’ The Second Coming. I’m in the middle of one of my own. 


“Hey, thanks for helping us find the trail back to school.”

“No worries.”

“You coming to the next run?”



” … Yes, I will (God I hope that sounds alike).”




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