I almost missed Boot Camp at the YMCA this morning. It was only by Divine appointment I made it at all. Cause I really didn’t feel like going.
I felt like laying on the couch, being my typical lazy self. I mean, c’mon, I am already going to work out with McMuscles tonight. So there was no need to go to boot camp this morning, right???
But my heart kept telling me something was at boot camp waiting for me. Maybe it was someone who needed a friend, someone who would need prayer. The last thing I expected to find waiting for me at boot camp was a huge mountain with my name spelled across it.
“Charlie is going to RUN today.”
You all know I have been running faithfully with my brothers on Sunday and Wednesday nights for about a month. So far my best time for a mile was 11:14, which I achieved last night. And I was proud. And sore. And wasn’t emotionally prepared to run this morning.
I know that sounds like a bunch of psycho-babble. Why would anyone be afraid to run? I’m pretty sure it stems back to being a fat little girl, always the last to the finish line in PE. Running terrifies me. I have to work myself up for it.
But this morning, walking to the track at the high school with my class, I felt dread. Despair. Humiliation. I knew once again, in a class full of skinnies, that I was going to be the last one across the finish line. If I made it at all.
We did some drills, hopping, skipping, bounding (T-I-Double G-ER style), and by the end of those I was whipped. Exhausted. But that was simply the warm up. Now it was time to run.
And I started jogging. I know I can make it a whole mile without keeling over or needing an ambulance, but anything beyond that is in that scary place I avoid at all costs: THE UNKNOWN. Because the truth is, I have never pushed myself into that space. I have always gone to the edge, kissing off the unknown from a safe distance. But to actually go into it? Never going to happen.
As I did my best to keep up with the “pack,” I started feeling that familiar feeling of an exercise induced panic attack. Heavy breathing, muscles screaming, mind spinning out of control… and I had to stop jogging and start walking. It was only the beginning of the class (if you only have 1 week to live, hang out at boot camp- where an hour fifteen lasts a fricking eternity…) and these were the warm up laps. And there I was, power sweating, freaking out, and once again feeling like the fat girl struggling to keep up.
Everyone else was waiting for me at the end of the track, so they could begin the next round of laps. I tried to pass off my slow pathetic jog with a joke- “just trying not to pee my pants, people!” and that was completely true. But it wasn’t the whole story. I was scared.
The next assignment was to run 3 more laps around the track. And there I was, huffing and puffing in a power walk. Everyone else was passing me by. Leaving me behind.
And that was when something inside of me snapped. And for once, it wasn’t my bra strap.
No one was leaving me behind. I was too scared to catch up. I was afraid that if I started running, I was going to fail. It wasn’t my body that was stopping me- it was all in my head.
I spent the next quarter of the track giving myself a pep talk- out loud. (Heck, everyone else was already on the other side of the track anyway. They couldn’t hear me.)
“Charlie, you didn’t come here to walk. You are going to run. No one is stopping you but you. This is all in your head. You body was meant to run! Except for your boobs, of course. You don’t have to go fast, you don’t have to keep up with everyone else. But you are going to run. You are going to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you aren’t going to stop until you finish all the laps. Your body is stronger than your mind. Now get off your fat A$$ and RUN!!!!”
And I started running. Oh, it wasn’t fast, and it sure as heck wasn’t pretty. Every single step was torture. But pretty soon I found my rhythm, got my groove, and I ran. And as people were passing me, I started hearing things like “Good job, Charlie” and “Way to go” and “you are doing great!” Those people had no idea what was happening inside of me at that moment, that I was facing the unknown and running straight into it. Those comments were more precious to me than an overflowing bank account.
Before I was finished with my laps, the rest of the class was finished with theirs, and started running in the other direction. I ran to the finish line and did the unthinkable. I turned around and KEPT RUNNING. It wasn’t a question of being tired or exhausted. Nope, this was an amazing feeling! Facing fears head on, with a slow steady pace. I probably looked like a goober, covered from head to toe in sweat, red as a stop sign, breathing heavier than a porn soundtrack. But I wasn’t going to stop. Not till I was done.
Finally the end of the running came, and we headed back to the YMCA and returned to the gym. I thought we were done, but we still had abs and a cool down. Poor Abby, the leader of this class. I know she really wanted me to do some of those yoga planks at the end, but my entire body was dripping with sweat (which smelled like onions and asparagus, I might add) and I kept slipping off my elbows, bouncing onto my boobs. It didn’t matter. I had just run longer than I have in my entire life. So I started giggling. Kinda like a crazy person on the street that laughs at something no one else can see. But I had a reason to celebrate.
I beat my mind with my body today. I climbed my own personal mountain of insecurity and shame, and wound up seeing the view everyone else has been talking about for years.
Once I got home, I sat down in the chair I am sitting in right now and BAWLED my eyes out. Still crying, in fact. I never thought I could do this. I never thought I could get this far.
But folks, today I learned the truth.
THIS is only the beginning.