Friday, January 29, 2010

Gym Class

You know the head school mistress in the movie 'Matilda'? The big lady with the big holler? That's how I remember my seventh and eighth grade gym teacher, Mrs. Burns. Granted, she was probably about 30 and 150 pounds, and maybe even she was really nice, but in my mind at the time, she was way too gargantuan and old to be bossing us around the way she did. There was no way she could do any of the stuff that she bellowed at us to do, and we resented the heck out of her for that.

One of the things I remember most is long-distance running. I don't know how big the grass field at the junior high was, it wasn't a standard football field, but I remember it being huge. I also don't know how many times we had to circle that field, but I do know it was more than should be expected of any human being. The first few times we had to do the long-distance thing, I held to the back, where I felt I belonged, and straggled in with the last few slow runners.

But a funny thing happened one day. I happened to be in a deep conversation with my good friend Lisa Sanchez. Lisa was a gymnast. Had aspirations of being in the Olympics some day. So Lisa didn't hang out in the back, she was right in front when Mrs. Burns bellowed 'Go'. And I was right there with her, carrying on that conversation. We stayed together for several laps, right in front, first and second place. Eventually Lisa apologized and pulled ahead. But there I was in second place. Second place. Me. Let me tell you, I have never placed in anything athletic wise. Nothing. Nada. It was an incredible feeling. I could feel that third place person on my back, and I pushed ahead. Funny how it's fine to be dead last, until you have a chance of actually placing. Then that's all that matters.

It turns out this was a huge calculated mistake, because it gave Mrs. Burns the mistaken impression that I was some kind of an athlete. She tortured me for the next two years, convinced I should be able make some kind of showing for myself. "Again! Do it again! I know you can do it!" And with each sprint or whatever, I wouldn't even place in the 'acceptable' range. Ah, the memories.

Anyway, back to this particular run, I pushed myself harder than I should have, trying to keep my second place position. Finally I had to relent to third, than fourth place, but I was determined to keep that position. Eventually I got to the point that I didn't think I could take another step, and Mrs. Burns called out "Just two more laps!"

I should have been relieved to hear there was an eventual end to this race, but instead I looked out at the field, which looked as big as the ocean, and thought 'Two more laps? Are you kidding me? I have to go around that field two more times?'

I did keep putting one foot in front of the other, and I did keep that fourth-place position. Mostly because every other girl in the class was content to be in the pack, far behind those that were pushing ahead. I dropped onto the grass afterwards, feeling my heart pound heavy in my chest, pretty confident that I'd never get up again. (Obviously I did, but it took a good, long time.)

I've thought of that run a lot this week. People keep saying, "Just two more rounds. Just two more rounds." And I'm thinking, "Are you kidding me? I have to do this two more times?"



Kimi said...

Dang. I was just thinking the same thing about having 2 more weeks of this wretched diet. But I guess I don't feel so bad about it now.

That was a great description. It really puts it in perspective.

I've felt sort of like that during a marathon or two. "Two more miles? Oh, is that all? You've got to be kidding me!" So I try to picture my life an hour after that, or a day after that. "Ah, I'll be sitting around icing my legs and eating WHATEVER I WANT!" Gets me through.

It seems like a long ways away, but picture life after you're DONE! Cancer free! Won't it be AWESOME?!!

And, hey-- we can have a couple more Ch(Ke)emo parties, right?

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