My folks will vouch for the fact that I am the one of the most feminine tomboys you will likely come across. In elementary school, I insisted on wearing dresses and tights, but would come home with scraped knees bleeding through my ripped stockings, all from challenging the boys to races on the playground. I won. Obviously.
Fast forward to middle school, I became severely asthmatic. Not just a little wheezy here and there, but think full-on retainer-voiced ASCHMA. I was on so many inhalers and pills, and I had to get 4 allergy shots a week. It was exhausting rolling my plastic bubble John-Travolta-style back and forth to school, but I would just chant “Grueling pace, meager rations!” on the long trek. Okay, so I lied about the bubble part but everything else was true. And don’t even act like that Oregon Trail reference didn’t take you back to the 90’s for a glorious-neon-Lisa-Frank moment. But I digress.
It now seemed as I entered high school that cross-country was out of the cards for me. I could run my heart out for a brief spurt and spend the rest of the night wheezing with satisfaction that I was still at least a sprinter… until I kept training on shin splints and faced some injury. The fielders scooped me up and claimed me as their own. And that’s the story of how I accidentally became the tiniest female shot put and discus thrower west of the Mississippi.
I gave up on running. I was so mad that my body was preventing me from doing something I loved that it just became easier to pretend I hated the sport.
And then I grew up. (Well, physically anyway; the jury’s still out on the rest) and time has a way of healing many wounds, and consequently asthma. High-five! I definitely am still asthmatic. I definitely will never run without an inhaler again, but it’s infinitely more manageable and dagnabbit I have the confidence to rock the heck out of that Albuterol-shaped lump that my stretchy Spi-belt is hugging to my waist during races.
I’m just a real person like everyone else with real physical limitations who gets a rush out of pushing them. I’m someone who believes that with correct training, putting the best fuel into our systems, and a willingness to learn, we can go farther than we ever believed our bodies could take us.