Tuesday, August 17, 2010
My younger sister Michele and I are 16 months apart. Growing up, she was the skinny athletic one and I was the chubby nerd. Michele played sports, could do cartwheels, and wore a size 0 all through high school. I ate hot dogs, read books, and tried to squeeze myself into too small juniors size clothes. For all my growing up years, my own self worth was centered around comparing myself to my younger, more beautiul sister. Ah, the torture of being a young girl . . .
When I started running, first for exercise during college and then to feed my newfound addiction to road races in 2004, I also started to change the way I measured my own value. It has been a long journey, but I now can celebrate the body that has run MANY races (including 3 marathons), given birth to a healthy, beautiful little girl, and so much more.
Besides giving me a new, more confident outlook, what I loved about running was that i was MY thing. No one else in my family, including Michele, ran road races. I loved doing something that was all my own. And then Michele started running. For other sisters, this would probably be great news - one more running partner! For Michele and I, it has been a source of unspoken tension.
When we have run races together, I get so focused on where Michele is and whether she is beating me that I forget to run my own race. I compare my finish time to hers and feel like a failure if I am not as fast, even if I PR. I know the scorecard: my 5K and marathon PR's are faster, she's got me beat in the 10K and half-marathon.
I have been working on moving past this. Partly because my mom told me to suck it up and get over myself, and partly because my running partner Jim has constantly reminde me that I run for ME. This weekend, I'll get a chance to put it into practice. Both Michele and I are running the half in Madison. Instead of worrying whether I'm in front of or behind my sister, I am going to concentate on powering up hills, staying strong, and celebrating one more opportunity to participate in the sport I have come to love. Run my own race.