Running is for Idiots

My relationship with running goes way the F back. Only idiots run for fun. After years of hating said activity, I am now one of those idiots.

The relationship probably started in elementary school. Every day at the beginning of PE, we would have to run two laps around the basketball court in the gym. There were the kids who whizzed around as if they were Olympians, always needing to show off and be the first one done. They were the same kids who took dodgeball super seriously and got pissed when others didn’t. All of those kids have beer guts now.

Anyway, back to the elementary school gym. Each day before we started a wonderful activity like parachute, steal the bacon or step-aerobics, we had to run two laps, as I mentioned. If the PE coach caught you ‘cutting the corners’ of the basketball court while running laps, he would make you run them again and say, “You’re only cheating yourself!”

There was one day I specifically remember where 3rd grade Kennedy got a brand new outfit that matched with my American Girl doll. I was thrilled to wear it to school and show it off. It was a blue, floral, almost 70s-style looking top. I had a pink headband to match. It was a LOOK. My prissy 8-year-old ass showed up to PE class and half-assed the two laps. I cut the corners, because I didn’t want to sweat and I didn’t care if I was cheating myself. I was in 3rd grade, and two laps won’t do much.

Everyone was finished with their laps, sitting on the steps. The PE coach called me out and made me run the two laps again in front of everyone. I was pissed, but I did it and got it over with.

Running in middle school was worse. I am actually still scarred because of something called “stairs.” You see, our middle school volleyball team wasn’t great. We were actually atrocious. Sorry prior fellow teammates; I only speak the truth. The coach had us run one “stair” for each serve we missed during a match, collectively. Let me give you some insight into what “stairs” are, for those who are unfamiliar.

“Stairs” was a running exercise created by Satan himself, where you start on the first floor and run up the staircase to the third floor. From there, you run the length of the hallway and down the opposite staircase until you were back to the first floor. You are now on the home stretch— the final hallway. After this, the process repeats itself.

Our team was horrific, so we missed anywhere from 15 to 30 serves or more each match. I always contemplated being “sick” so I could miss the next practice. But I somehow survived to tell the tale of running stairs.

Despite hating stairs and running in general, I always seemed to be pretty athletic—I was mediocre at softball and volleyball, tried my hand at basketball and played the bench, was a cheerleader for a year, did tumbling for a couple, and I’m even a blue belt in Taekwondo. Okay to be fair, I remember almost nothing from Taekwondo but I could still hand someone theirs if I needed to. Since I was always playing sports, I decided I was going to do cross country my sophomore year. Why not, right? I hated running, so an entire sport dedicated to it? And not just running, but distance running? WHY, SURE. Sign me up! Since volleyball and cross country conflicted, I couldn’t go to many meets. It was fine. I didn’t love it, but I stuck with it the whole season.

After volleyball summer camp junior year, I decided the volleyball team sucked and there was no point in sticking with that, so I dedicated my time to cross country. One of my really good friends at the time was in it too, so we just messed around at practice. She would be super hungover at the meets. It was kind of hilarious. Anyway, it got to a point where I was running 5+ miles a day. I was in my prime.

About a month into the season, I was suddenly extremely fatigued. I would go to bed immediately after practice was over. This went on for weeks. I went to the doctor and they took vial after vial of blood. They tested me for diabetes, they tested my blood sugar, etc. etc. etc. They couldn’t figure it out. Meanwhile, I am still going to practices, meets and school, trying to stay awake. I remember there were a couple of meets I couldn’t even finish, because I was so fatigued and ill. During this sleepy period, I even went on a mini vacation to Cedar Point.

At Cedar Point, I got a hankering for some authentic Italian cuisine, so we skipped over to the local Pizza Hut. No one out-pizzas the hut! I was so tired at this Pizza Hut, I fell asleep at the table. My mom thought I was narcoleptic. Hell, I was starting to think so too. I couldn’t stay awake to save my life.

Another trip to the doctor was in store. They took more blood and ran tests.

After the doctors had taken a gallon of my blood, they figured it out. It turns out I had something called (Jeffrey) Epstein Barr Virus. Apparently it’s something worse than mono, causes mono, or is mono. Either way, I had mono or an extreme version of such. The doctor told me I was lucky my spleen hadn’t exploded from excessive running and exercise.

I told my coach. He was shocked, but also not surprised because I was SUCKING at meets. My times were horrid— that was if I hadn’t given up mid-way through. Although my relationship with running was very strong at this point, it was time to break up if I wanted to keep my spleen in one piece.

After shunning running (poetry), I didn’t run for months. I had a ton of resting time over the fall and winter, so I could get better completely. Track season rolled around. The only way to get out of PE for the entire year was to participate in a fall sport and a spring sport. I wasn’t interested in softball, because it sucks. So that left with me one option: track. I was determined to get out of PE. During my sophomore year, I literally just stayed in the locker room during PE class. I still managed to get As and Bs.

I joined track and ran the 2-mile event at a couple of meets. I absolutely hated it. Everyone knows whoever runs distance in track just sucks at everything else. Sorry, but it’s true. There was one meet in particular where I was just not very interested in being there, let alone running two miles in the scorching heat.

It was hot and I was annoyed. The 2-mile event was about to start, and I wasn’t the least bit enthused. I went to the number on the track where I was supposed to be. How am I going to get out of this? We were seconds from the event starting. I had to come up with something quickly. Everyone got to their spot, did weird warm-ups that track people do, and then the event started.

I was going at a decent pace. I ran one lap and thought of a fun idea. In the middle of lap two, I acted like I passed out. I really did. No f*cks. I just fell onto the football field until the athletic trainer came over.

“Are you okay??? What did you eat today?”

“Just a PBJ.”

“Oh, that’s probably why you passed out.”

“Oh yeah. Probably!”

The trainer walked me back to where our team was set up and I just chilled. I was ready to go home. After the meet was over, the coach yelled at us for “certain people” not trying. I was just sitting there like, yeah, we get it. You’re talking about me, but let’s go hoooommeeee. So we went home. On the bus ride home I enjoyed life, while others who took running seriously, pouted and were silent.

At the next practice, everyone was talking while warming up. It was something we always did, because sometimes communicating with other humans is enjoyable… Sometimes. We were in a circle, doing our stretches and talking. Were we going to sit in silence like mutes? No. We were going to make the most of this hell we put ourselves through. The coach was about 50 yards away talking to someone. She yelled, “KENNEDY! STOP TALKING OR I’LL MAKE YOU RUN THE 2-MILE.”

  1. Everyone is talking.
  2. You would make me do it anyway.
  3. Bye.

So I said, “Are you kidding me?” and hopped in my car, drove away and never went back.

So here we are in 2020, or what I like to call Season 6 of Black Mirror. We are living in a weird twilight zone-esque time. So what do I do? I start running again. If only I could run from 2020.

I would say my relationship with running now is a lot better because I can do it at my own pace, on my own time, and anywhere I want. I’m not restricted to a track, a gym or coaches. PLUS, I can cut corners if I want, talk to myself while stretching if I want and if I don’t want to run two miles, I DON’T HAVE TO.

Actually on average, I try and run at least two miles a day, if not more. It’s funny how things work out, isn’t it? Moral of this story is, despite hating something most of your life, you may end up loving it. For some people it’s vegetables. For me, it’s running.

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