Fame to shame and back again

The high school’s athletic department spelled my last name wrong on my first-ever MVP plaque for varsity cross country in 2006. Trevor, the men’s MVP recipient and my then-senior-in-high-school brother, hadn’t noticed the misspelling on his own plaque.

The physical education teacher apologized profusely, taking them back and promising to have them redone.

34119_1433227322690_1029585_nThat plaque –– with my properly spelled last name –– hangs on the lime-green wall in my bedroom at my parents’ house… next to the 2010 version, and above the 2007, 2008 and 2009 versions. Five straight years; every season I ran for the varsity women’s team.

Under the 2010 cross country plaque begins a similar saga for track: 2008, 2010 and 2011.

I had no idea that, when I finally hung the plaques up last Christmas, they’d be taunting me in a year.

To shove my award-winning past down my throat even further, there are plaques for school records held and MVP plaques/sportsmanship awards for individual races/meets/seasons.

34579_1433228162711_6570496_nNow I find racing bibs, seed number stickers and individual metal spikes in my childhood bedroom and throw them out without a second thought or glance.

That 100-pound life of mine? It’s been over for more than two years since I decided to pursue a different kind of lifestyle in college. And I’ve found success –– a lot of success, actually –– but I’ve also let my body down.

I feel like shit probably 75 percent of the time now. My doctor says I’ve reached a healthy weight, proportional to my 5’2″ stature and the lifestyle I lead, but I’m reminiscent of those high metabolism days when eating my weight in food refracted on the scale instead of reflecting.

Achieving a healthy weight doesn’t mean I’m entirely happy with the loss of tone in my muscles, the weight gain in my face and –– while this may seem like a perk –– the need to buy new bras to support a larger cup size.

I’m fuller, more of the hourglass figure women so desperately want… but I’m about ready to trade it in.

I stopped running because I hated it, the running part, I mean. Not to mention the drama on my college cross country team (almost wrote “country” without the ‘o’…not on purpose, I swear!) and coaching methods I did not particularly agree with. Maybe building a method of my own and running on my schedule will be the breath of fresh, cold and wintry air my cabin fever needs in order to be sweated out. Not to mention the 10 pounds I’d really like to shed.

So I’ve invested $100 dollars in my new RUN-BECAUSE-IT’S-HEALTHY-FOR-YOU,-EMILY initiative.

$30 on new Sauconys (the comfiest running sneaker you’ll ever find; I snagged a deal at Dick’s).

$60 on a new sports bra (you pay a hefty price for…well…having a hefty chest).

$11 on bluetooth earbuds (originally $40; I had Amazon credit to use).

So screw you, lime-green wall.

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Recreating the high

“One more lap, Em!”

“Gotta speed up on this one if you want that time!”

“100 meters left!”

“Kick it in!”

…I can still hear them in my head. Yelling at me. Screaming. Coaches losing their voices and freaking me out in the process.

Faster, faster. 

Legs and arms numb. Clock ticking. Each second costing me a new record, title, or trip to states.

The only person who ever put pressure on me was Trevor (“You can go faster than that, Emmie,” he’d say). But I put pressure on myself. I wanted to make Dad proud. I wanted him to say “You go, girl!” I wanted more records to post on the non-existent record board. I craved the endorphins, the runner’s high. I wanted that oh-so-hyper-and-excited feeling I experienced after every race when I could breathe again.

I associated running with the painful knots in my back and the ever-present butterflies in my stomach. I popped pain reliever before each race and numbed my back with Icy Hot. I snapped at loud, immature teammates and tried to think about anything but the girls whom I knew were my competition. I dreaded every single meet on the schedule, some more than others.

But I did well. And I made Dad proud. And I set several records and went to states several times.

But I regret not having a better attitude toward running.

I am so jealous of the team my high school coach has now. I had to run with the boys; it looks like all of these high school girls run together. And they do races together in the summer. And they’re always smiling.

…I wish I could have had the opportunity for their enthusiasm to rub off on me.

Maybe I could have developed a better relationship with running. Maybe I could have had fun. Maybe I would have – gasp! – loved it. Instead of sitting here, missing that high but not wanting to go through the pain of recreating it.

They always told me to go faster. I wanted to slow my life down.

Now I want to go fast again. I just lack the wherewithal.