Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sports Expanding Horizons

Today is the National Women's Law Center's Rally for Girls' Sports Day, and so I'm going to go backwards in this post, to the moment some years ago when I "discovered" running.

It's 1993 and I've just just moved to New York City. I'm studying for my Master's of Law at Columbia. I know no one, except a few people in my classes, but hardly well. More, for the first time in my life I've built up to running 10k in one go!

One day in the law library, a woman I hope to befriend asks me about my running.

“Oh I run about ten, three times a week,” I say airily. I am, if the truth be told, somewhat intimidated by her. She has run marathons, something inconceivable to me.

And really, I have only once run three times in a week, but I am determined to do it more often, so I feel only mildly guilty telling her it is an established habit.

“Wow,” she said, “You’re really serious about running, that’s great.”

I walk away feeling the pleasant pricklings of pride until I realize...oh no...she thought “ten” meant ten miles, not ten kilometers. I have never run ten miles in my whole life! I have misrepresented myself—unwittingly of course, but I am still mortified.

I go home, thoughtful. I take advantage of my student-flexible schedule. I put on my shorts and shoes, and go to Central Park. I run one loop. Ten kilometers. Or as I am now trying to think of it, six miles. I run a second loop. Twenty kilometers. That's twelve miles. My conversion math is getting better.

My feet hurt. My hips feel misaligned. Salt cakes my temples. My skin tingles and my hair stands on end. My lungs expand and open up, so that I breathe in an entire world at my disposal. I have just run the furthest I ever have in my life, twice over, and I feel amazing.

Only a few hours earlier I wouldn’t even have thought it was possible. It is as if I have opened a door to an alternate universe, my own Narnia, or Alice down the rabbit hole. What next? I think, newly plugged into a high voltage of potential. What do I think I can’t do? I’ll do that! Maybe, I think, there is no such thing as an I-can-only-dream-of list.

Sports show us dreams are possible. Goodbye "she's just a dreamy girl." Hello, "she's a kick-ass dreamy girl!"