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home and away

June 26, 2012

i was the one that got away.

all my high school girlfriends stayed home and went to school about 20 miles down i-94.  my three bff’s all roomed together their first year at the local university.  they had dinner at home every sunday and did laundry in their parent’s basement.  one even married her high school sweetheart.  so when i came home for holidays there was always a little tension.  they said i’d changed.  they said i was becoming too southern and losing my midwestern roots.  they said i wasn’t the same girl they knew in high school.  in my mind, it wasn’t that i had changed.  it was that they had stayed the same.

coming home was always hard for me.  i felt like i didn’t fit in any more.  i felt like no one understood.  i felt like my “friends” weren’t my friends.  home was usually lonely.  and i felt like my high school friends were always judging me.  now that i’m older and wiser i don’t care so much what other people think about me (remember my new year’s resolution?  me too) but i do always want to prove to the world/southeastern wisconsin how much i’ve grown since i’ve been gone.  after all who wouldn’t want to stick it to the high school ex-boyfriend who said i got fat in college?

so i entered the second annual summerfest rock ‘n sole quarter marathon.  because winning a bake-off wouldn’t have been as satisfying…and i couldn’t find one.  it was my first ever quarter marathon.  and it was my first race at home since dad famously elbowed me at the finish of the turkey trot in 2009.  apparently i’m not only the one that got away, i’m also the one that got in my dad’s way.

race day dawned a foggy, ominous morning.  i remarked in the car on the early morning ride over that it reminded me of a scene from a sherlock holmes novel.  as i was seeded for the race in the first corral, corral a, i was a twinge nervous.  and running basically blind for the thick fog didn’t help to lift my spirits.  i surveyed my competition and became a twinge more nervous as i realized i was the only female within my scope of vision (about two feet in either direction) who was running the quarter marathon.  super.

the too-perky-for-7-a.m. maestro signaled the start of the race and corral a and i took off.  the front runners spread out, like raindrops on a car windshield, dotting the hoan bridge in a scattered but straight line.  i wish i could say that the miles sped by…but they didn’t.  it was a monotonous beat of right foot, left foot, right foot for 6.55 miles.  we went up and over the bridge, exited via ramp and made a hairpin turn to climb up an on-ramp and back onto the bridge.  here’s the thing about running- it isn’t much fun.  but there are moments.

i was alone for much of the race but as i hit mile 5 we looped back past the start line and i got the goosebumps when i realized the shrill cheers were for me, and me alone, as i was indeed alone on the race course.  here’s the other thing about running- most runners will say that it doesn’t matter if they don’t win the race.  but there are moments.  and this was mine.

i hoped with all the energy my fatigued little body could muster that i would be the first female to cross the finish line.  imagine what my friends from home would think then!  i’d be famous.  the local press would pick up my story and pretty soon i’d be smiling from the front page of the washington post.  take that!, i thought as i rounded the final curve to see the banner of the finish looming ahead.  the crowds were cheering.  i was alone on the home straightaway.  and then i heard the too-perky-for-7:40 a.m. announcer.

“and here comes our second place female finisher!”

most runners will say that it doesn’t matter if they don’t win the race.  and it didn’t.  i was the second female across the finish line.  i was met with cheers and 18 red roses and a hat and as much water/chocolate milk as my ragged race-worn body could consume.  i was ushered through the finish chute by a volunteer who was tasked with ushering me to the vip area.  you would’ve thought i’d just set the world record (i hadn’t).  but i did run fast enough to earn a spot on the stage at the award ceremony.  and my name was printed in the milwaukee journal sentinel for all to see.

run for the roses.

it was a long race, all by myself, across the hoan bridge.  and back again.  just me and my right foot, left foot, right foot.  but then again i’ve always liked blazing my own trail.  and getting away from the pack.

i’ve always been the one that got away.  some things always stay the same.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. cleverasaquirk permalink
    June 26, 2012 1:48 pm

    YOU are a rockstar! I cannot believe you didn’t tell us you placed 2nd!!! You’re too modest. Add that to your list of a-list qualities 🙂 XOXO

  2. June 26, 2012 3:34 pm

    You did get fat in college.

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