I have been proud of a clean house, a well-crafted Etsy planner, good grades, a job well done, etc. I have felt proud at honor roll celebrations and band performances. However, it wasn’t until recently that I had a different more profound feeling of being proud. Let me introduce you to number 23. She is my stepdaughter Kolby. She loves sloths, Dr. Who, Mega Stuff Oreos, being finished with a job, playing with her yellow lab Sport, antagonizing her sister, jumping out from unexpected places and scaring her Dad, mountain biking, Chili’s queso dip, and cotton shorts with an elastic band. She does not, however, love running. Like Kolby, I run about 5 days per week and I can honestly say I don’t love it. My adult brain came to a realization long ago that it did not matter how I felt about it, I just needed to do it. I might never love the run, but my propensity toward being overweight sure did.
Kolby joined her middle school’s cross county team and is a mile runner. Albeit a little reluctantly but she did. It’s her only event. For seven minutes she takes center stage out there sometimes being passed and sometimes doing the passing. She does rise to the competitive occasion. When the gun is fired, I watch Kolby forget that she’d rather be at home watching The Walking Dead or playing basketball in the street with her friend. She is a runner. She is long-legged but a pale red head that immediately has a red face with one lap around the track. It’s Florida and it’s H.O.T.
I lament not bringing my water bottle or lawn chair and feel my own pain, but looking at Kolby out on that track, suffering, competing, and doing so with everything she has I forget my discomfort. She doesn’t need a Nike shirt that says Leave Nothing. Her face says it all for her. Her expensive and crazy-colored running shoes help me clearly see her every stride. On her last lap, I see the determination and relief that the end is coming. When she crosses the finish line she can do nothing but pace in circle for a whole minute trying to determine if she’ll ever catch her breath again. Then, just like a light switch, she is back. Another job done.
I think what makes me so profoundly proud of Kolby is that she has figured out what many adults still grapple with. Sometimes you suffer and do the thing you absolutely don’t want to do for a greater good. It’s hot, it buggy, it’s ________. There are a lot of great and numerous reasons not to go run but you only need to find one reason to go. Even if, for now, it means you get an extra Oreo, or an extra picture in the yearbook, or fancy crazy running shoes. You may not love the love run, but you will love the results.