I was always terrible in P.E. in school.

That may be a serious understatement…I was always the worst one in the class.  I have horror stories, I swear, some of which traumatized me for life. How hard is it to fail P.E. class?  Pretty damn hard, unless you’re me.  I’m the only one I know that actually did it, and on a regular basis, no less.

My best friend in high school, Kelley, always did her best to keep me from feeling like a complete failure.  But seeing as how she was one of those perfectly petite, ridiculously-(and blessedly)-capable-in-everything-she-put-her-hand-to-including-sports kinds of people, it made for little solace.  Kelley always finished her Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge smelling like a rose.  She never had trouble running a lap around the track, and she most definitely never embarrassed herself.

jill feature

I, on the other hand, was the overweight kid who ran ten steps and walked the rest of the way, head hung in shame, fighting back the tears as everyone else waited impatiently on the sidelines for me to finish so we could go back inside, out of the hot Georgia sun.

Throughout all the years, Kelley never lost her patience with me.  When I started running years ago, she was the first to offer encouragement from a runner’s perspective (she had taken up running herself, but of course, in typical Kelley fashion, did very respectably well in her chosen sport).  We were both in Atlanta at the time, but was forced to take a hiatus from running as she fought a family crisis, so we never got a chance to run together.  Just as well…I doubt she would have had much fun running (or should I say strolling) at a 14:30/minute mile pace, which is where I think I was at the time.

Earlier this year, after I’d been running a couple of months, Kelley started noticing that whenever I completed a run, Runkeeper would post the results on my Facebook page. A couple of months ago, I was on Runkeeper and saw her name pop up, so I friended her.  It was then that she told me that she’d been watching my progress, and that I had inspired her to start running again.

She will never know how much that meant to me.

Jill The Color Run

Slowly, over the past couple of months, just as she had been watching my progress, I’ve been watching hers. And then one day, I realized that we were running in the same ballpark, pace-wise…and it staggered me.
How could this be??
But it was true.  Then she posted on Facebook that she’d signed up for a virtual 5K on December 6th, and wanted to know if anyone would be interested in running it with her.
Oh, hell yeah….count me IN!!
And even though I live in Tennessee, and she in Louisiana, after all these years, we finally got to run ‘together’.  We timed it as closely as we could, so that even if we didn’t start at exactly the same time, we would at least be running at the same time.
It was wonderful, being out on that track, on a perfectly sunny, blue-sky, 52 degree afternoon, knowing that somewhere, someone that I loved and respected so much was running with me.  So, for all those times when I  couldn’t compete…with her or anyone else….I ran my heart out.  And you know what?
I won.
I won because I was running with my oldest friend.
I won, because she never stopped believing in me, even when everyone else, including me, did.
I won, because I now believe that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.

I also won with the better pace of the two of us and bested my former 5K PR by 3m:49s in the process!

I think I can hold my head up, now.  Thank you, my friend….for everything.