My first track & field coach was my grade 6 teacher, Mr. Bauder. I still clearly remember him explaining that a good indicator of fitness is how quickly you recover, which I thought was kind of profound. He was a nice coach. One spring I had qualified for the city meet in the 100 metres, and raced a heat against another girl with the same name - Sarah Montgomery. As we lined up to race, Mr. Bauder yelled from the sidelines that "OUR Sara Montgomery" was a "RUNNER!". Despite his enthusiasm, Sarah beat me by a mile and made the final. But hey, it feels good when your coach believes in you.
In high school, it was still a struggle to do more than a few laps around the track. I was more into sprints, high jump, gymnastics, basketball and volleyball. For all of those sports I got by with my weak level of endurance.
I didn't get into distance running until I was well into my 20s, and it was HARD. I must have started and stopped a dozen times before it finally "took". Running a marathon was a huge deal to me because it was so beyond the realm of what I thought was possible. After I started doing some half-marathons, I knew deep down that I wanted to try a full at some point because reading others' accounts of them invariably made me choke up. (And now I'm in big, big trouble because 100-mile finishes make me cry like a big, blubbering baby.)
To me, running is still HARD, and I'm pretty sure that's a big part of what I love about it. It has given me more discipline and patience than anything else in my life, and I thrive on the lifestyle of training. Still, at times it can be too hard, and a dark side lies in wait with taunting abuse. I've run right up to that slippery slope of "never fast enough, never thin enough, never good enough" and thankfully had the sense to run hard the other way. I found myself in the woods, where my goals to keep it healthy, empowering, and fun are always right there.