A ten year old boy deflated my confidence with his piercing arrows of trash talk. The armor that had taken me months to build up around myself was full of holes before the 5k race even started. The chubby old people should have just stayed home, grabbed a bag of chips, laid on the couch and turned on PBS.
This is what he said.
The countdown hit zero and the admonishing boy sprinted out.
He was gone.
I hit the start button on my watch timer.
I run almost every day. This was not my first race.
it was my first race since I got a little
As my feet started moving my head started barking orders and expectations to myself.
“You had darn well better finish this race. You need to run that secret goal time. You need to prove that you aren’t dying yet. And whatever you do--- Don’t. Stop. Running.”
I’d show that boy what old people can do.
I’d show that boy what cancer people can do.
I’d show him.
That ten year old boy threw up on the side of the road. We were less than one mile into the race.
I saw him.
He was miserable.
I slowed a bit. I watched. I mentally paused.
I KEPT RUNNING.
It’s been weeks since I finished that race and I’ve been trying to write about it ever since I crossed the finish line. I’ve been trying to tell the story about that demoralizing “gigantic” hill, the pain in my post chemo joints and how the race was much harder than I had hoped it would be. I’ve been trying to tell the story about how I passed runners much younger than me and how I did manage to get my secret goal time. I wanted to tell a story about how I proved, at least to myself, that I was not dead yet.
But every time I try and tell those stories I keep seeing that boy throwing up on the side of the road, all by himself, with no one helping him. No one asking him if he was ok. No one offering him any comfort.
In the replay in my mind, I think of someone besides myself.
In the replay in my mind, I make a difference.
In the replay in my mind,
I STOP RUNNING.
Oh, I got off the couch and finished that race all right.I’m just not sure I’m proud of what I showed him.
I showed that boy.
I showed that boy.