To my generation, Forest Gump is an icon. I can’t even list the number of lines from that movie that are now household phrases. In one of the most memorable scenes, Forrest, who has been made to wear leg braces because of a crooked back, needs to get away from some neighborhood bullies. As his best friend, Jenny, shouts to him, "Run, Forrest, Run!” he takes off running, at first hindered by the braces, but then, as he gains momentum they pop off, freeing him up to make his getaway. Years later, Forrest went on to make news headlines when Jenny left him with a broken heart. He ran and ran and ran - for 3 years.
To me, running is something of an enigma. I’ve never been a runner, and the few times I’ve tried, I quickly decided that the shin splints and muscle aches weren’t worth it. I am in awe of the many people who manage to do it - to get their bodies to do it! When I see people out running around Towne Lake, I generally feel a combination of awe and jealousy - I find myself unable to look away sometimes (ok, I admit that’s sounds creepy now that I’ve written it down).
Recently, my 9 yr old daughter, Abby, joined the Etowah Youth Track Club, which has around 125 runners this year, ranging in age from 5-18. The runners participate in local developmental track meets, which means that the focus of the meet is to develop personal skills - there are no trophies or awards at the meet. At first I thought my daughter would take issue with this - Abby, who is the definition of competitive, lives for the prize. During the inital practices, Abby excelled, finishing in the top three and often in 1st place in her sprints. So, at the first meet, she was pumped with excitement about how she would do. . . unfortunately, she finished most of her events in the middle to back of the pack. As she crossed the finish line in her last race, I braced myself for the inevitable tears that would come, but my insanely competitive kid who cannot stand to even look at the scoreboard if her brother’s baseball team is losing, dragged herself, exhausted, to my spot in the bleachers, wearing a huge smile on her face! “Mom, I did my very best today and I’m proud of that. I had so much fun!” Now, I’ll tell you that there were tears shed that day, but they weren’t Abby’s!
Since that day, I’ve noticed that Abby is not the only runner with a great attitude at EYTC, and much of that I must attribute to the volunteer coaches. Bob O’Brien is the new head coach this year, and, although he has a lot of fun clowning around with the kids, he also encourages and pushes them to do their best, and to race against themselves. After each meet, he issues PR (Personal Record) award cards to each runner who beats a previous record, as the team shouts out cheers of support and congratulations.
It’s awesome to see the dedication and hard work of these kids week after week, and, believe it or not, I’ve been feeling inspired. I actually went out and bought myself a bona fide pair of running shoes, and thanks to a tip from Coach Bob’s wife, Beth, I’m now armed with an app on my phone called “Couch to 5K.” I don’t expect to be running any marathons any time soon, but maybe, just maybe I can tackle a 5K some day. Whatever happens, I’m going to simply do my best, and hold my head high every time another runner breezes on past me! So, if you see me out running in Towne Lake, and you find you can’t tear your eyes away (it probably won’t be because you’re in awe!), just roll your window down and shout, “Run, Jodi, Run!!!”