The World Through My Shoes is my look at living this incredible gift God has given us. As a busy wife, mother and daughter I relish the alone time I receive on my early morning runs. It is in the stillness of those predawn mornings where I often am inspired. Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Girl At The Track

She caught the corner of my eye.  Her hair, tied in a loose ponytail, bobbed up and down as she ran around the track of a local high school.  She wore a cotton t-shirt and long grey sweatpants.  It  was over 90° on that black-ovaled track and I knew she had to have been hot.  Weight loss seemed to be her goal as she appeared 100 pounds overweight.

Breathing hard due to the pace I was running, she could hear me coming near her.  As I approached, she turned her head and body away from me.  I knew what that meant, there was no mistaking it.  She was hiding.  She wasn't a real runner.

I know, because I use to be that girl.

The Gift Of Strep Throat

It was April 2003 and I had come down with a nasty sore throat.  My husband suspected strep and urged me to go see the doctor.  I had never experienced strep throat before but I knew it was contagious.  My babies were 6 and 1½ years old and I didn't want them getting sick.

At the doctor's office, the nurse had me step onto the scale - the Dreaded Scale.  It had been a year and a half since the baby was born and I couldn't shed the baby weight.  I had made peace with my new mommy-size.

Hesitantly I stepped on the scale.  I did a double take at the numbers before me.  This can't be right.  The Dreaded Scale had budged.  I had lost 5 pounds.   The strep throat had made it difficult to eat helping me lose 5 pounds in the process.  The revelation the weight could come off gave me a grin so wide the nurse asked me if I was ok.

The big question I faced now became "What am I going to do to keep it off?".  With two young boys and my husband and I both working full time, where in the world would I find time to exercise?  What would I even do?  Thinking back to my high school days, I thought of PE class and track.  It had been 16 years since I had done either.  SIXTEEN. 

I had zero exercise equipment, but I think I had acceptable shoes somewhere in the house.  I dug into my closet and found an old tattered pair of tennis shoes.  This is a miracle in itself as there was no logical explanation as to why I even had the pair.  

Set My Alarm Clock for WHAT TIME?

Since I work outside of our home, my family time is crucially important to me.  I could not take time away from my young boys to exercise.  My only option was getting up before anyone else was awake. 

This is not natural.  I love sleep.

Making the decision to run around our block once, and having no idea how long it would take me, I set the alarm for 15 minutes earlier than normal.  I was now getting up at 6:00 am.  THIS IS INSANE.

One Block, Two Block, Three Block, Four

My first run in 16 years was around the block; a distance of less than 3/4 a mile and it took me 10 minutes.  I broke no speed records and had no fan fare.  No one saw me and I was relieved.  I had no idea what I was doing and I was not a real runner.    I was only an overweight mom whose single goal being to keep off that blasted 5 pounds. 

The next day I did it again.   And again.  And again.

A week later I decided to go a little bit further.  And then a little bit further.  The first day I ran an entire mile evoked strong feelings of accomplishment.  Never before in my adult life had I been as proud of myself as I was in that moment. 

Still, no one saw me running.  Fear gripped me knowing if anyone saw me running, they would surely laugh at me as I was not a real runner.    I didn't have real running clothes or real running shoes or even look like a real runner.  My sweats were old, my shoes older and I was overweight.

A Look In The Mirror

At the track, as I passed this overweight woman who refused to look at me, my heart twinged in memory.   It was as if I peeled back time and was looking at my former self.  I wanted to hug her and tell her I - yes, I, a complete stranger - was incredibly proud of her.  I wanted to tell her she was a real runner and to run tall and proud of all she was accomplishing.  Showing up at the track screamed loudly of her inner strength and determination; guts I never had in my beginning.

More than anything I wanted her to know the hard work is worth it.  The weight comes off.  The mornings become your favorite quiet time of the day.  The running brings tears of joy and tears of pain because it is the hardest thing you've physically ever done.  Running helps you deal with the death of your mom.  One day you'll realize how many years you wasted feeling bad because you had no idea how good the good feels.

Coming around the third bend of the track, she was in my sights again. I moved 3 lanes over to be in the lane next to her.  Her eyes were intently staring at the ground directly in front of her; looking neither ahead, left or right.  I came up next to her and quietly said, "You are doing great.  Keep up the good work."  My words startled her and she snapped her head in my direction.  Before pulling away from her,  I gave her a thumbs up. 

There was no mistaking the look on her face.  The corners of her mouth began to form the biggest of smiles.   


  1. Totally loved reading this!

  2. I enjoyed reading that, Cheri. Good job on the writing. I think that with this afternoon's sunshine some of Lynden's Dutch people were out there planting their tulips and primroses.