68. Inspired to Run

68. Inspired to Run

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Runners

Inspired to Run

Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.
 ~John Dewey

I never thought I’d be a “runner.”

I was the girl who finished her laps last in gym class. The girl who got winded after two flights of stairs. The girl who complained of blisters after a two-minute jog.

Pretty pathetic, really.

But a few years ago, I changed my tune. I was walking with a group of friends in the Race for the Cure, a 5K race designed to raise money for the fight against breast cancer, when one lady caught my eye.

She was one of the frailest looking women I’ve ever seen. She must have been close to seventy years old, wearing a bandanna to cover her bald head and a T-shirt with the word “Survivor.” She was so small that it seemed as if a swift breeze could tip her over.

But, she was running.

And she was passing me and my group of twenty-something friends.

I couldn’t stop staring at her. She ran slowly, but determinedly — as if each step pushed her cancer further into her past. She was practically stomping on her cancer every time her feet touched the ground.

Then, I looked at my friends. Here we were, in the prime of our lives, and this seventy-year-old cancer survivor was kicking our butts!

Right at that moment, I swore that in the next Race for the Cure, I’d be running along with her.

A week later, I found myself at the gym, tentatively approaching the treadmill. I got on and started to jog.

Three minutes after I started, my face was bright red. I was oozing sweat and felt like my lungs were going to burst. I had to slow down to a walk. I thought about the woman at the race. She made it look so easy.

I kept it up.

I was able to go a little longer each time. Three and a half minutes. Four minutes. Five.

A year later, I was at the Race for the Cure again, but this time, I queued with the runners.

When the race started, streams of runners passed me by. But I concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. One step at a time, I ran forward.

By the second mile, my legs felt like rubber. But I kept moving forward.

As the end of the race approached, I wondered if I’d be able to do it. But then, I remembered the woman from the year before. One foot in front of the other, I ran as fast as I could until I finally crossed that finish line.

The sense of euphoria was incredible. I had just finished my first race! I had run just over three miles without stopping.

I looked down at my legs, amazed. They had done something I’d never thought possible. I have never felt stronger than in that moment.

And, I knew that I wanted to do it again.

~Jennifer Lee Johnson

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