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October 24, 2016

i grew up in the soccer boom.  enthralled by mia hamm’s star power and brandi chastain’s abs.  i played for the half-time snacks and the friendships built on the green and the spiffy high school varsity team track suits.  i played because every other little girl played.  and our mom’s – lined up in their white minivans around the village park lot – signed us up for select soccer tryouts and summer camps and laundered our stinky socks.  they told us about their childhoods and that girls didn’t play sports back then.  and then they sliced more oranges and washed our shinguards.

to “train” for soccer, i ran cross country.  i ran because it made me a stronger soccer player.  and because every mile put me closer to brandi chastain’s six-pack.  i was a good runner naturally.  but it wasn’t the sport that i loved – it was a means to an end.  soccer was the goal.

somewhere between junior prom and senior ball, things changed.  when i toured college campuses, i wasn’t asking to meet with their soccer programs.  i was chasing down cross country coaches.  the best accident – the kind you don’t even know is happening but changes your life.

i ran 18 miles this morning.  no, that’s not normal.  and no, that’s not my idea of weekend “fun.”  but it is life as i’ve known it for the last 10+ years.  my life in sneakers, played out to the beat of feet on pavement.

on my way home, i ran through a 5k charity run and 2 little girls being chased by their dad. they might not have internalized it but they’re growing up in the midst of a running boom.  and, more specifically, a women’s running boom.  for the first time ever, 3 american women finished in the top 10 at the olympics marathon.  emma coburn is at the top of the steeplechase world.  kara goucher is a running celebrity.  alexi pappas just made a movie starring real movie stars about the running world.  and the abs!  these runners could give brandi chastain body issues.  boom.

i don’t know where those 2 little girls will land.  maybe they’ll be violinists or nuclear physicists or moms.  maybe they’ll be runners.  regardless.  as their dad prodded them onward, in their matching sports tops and wrinkled pain faces, he pointed to the finish line.  i hoped they didn’t see an end.  i hope they saw a beginning.


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