Last week I started Carol Frazey's Fit School for Women Walking/Running program This program was recommended to me by my friend Cami Ostman, a marathon runner, who assured me that Carol is a great teacher and very accommodating to anyone's needs. I emailed Carol to be sure she could accommodate me, an above-knee amputee. After some dialogue, I felt assured she could.
On the first morning fifteen women met at 6:30 am at a local high school track. I expected about five women, so when I saw so many, I was intimidated. Just that many more people to look foolish in front of.
We started off by walking around the track. Carol wanted to get a baseline mile for each of us, so she timed us. As I started walking I felt as self-conscious as I did after I lost my leg when I was 17 years old. When some women started running past me, my throat constricted. It was a challenge for me to not compare myself to these fit, two-legged women. I don't go to a gym; I don't work out. I just take my daily mile walk. Hell, I don't even have workout clothes. I wore my cargo pants, an old t-shirt and a corduroy jacket. So to be around women who are clearly active and fit was at first disconcerting. I panicked when I realized that all the other women would likely finished their mile while I still had half a mile to go. Would they all have to wait for me to finish?
Then I remembered what Carol said before we started walking: this is not about comparing ourselves to each other; this is about doing something for ourselves. I'm a busy, working mother. I don't take much time to do anything for myself - and when I do it's not usually something healthy, like waking up at 6:30 in the morning to walk and do push-ups. So I puffed out my chest and stood a little taller. I realized that I can compare myself to every woman there till I'm blue in the face and in doing so I'll only feel worse. Or I can acknowledge that I'm doing this for me, for my health and perhaps I'll learn a more efficient way to walk. Every woman on that track has a story, a reason to be there, and I decided I'm just another one of those women. I've excluded myself, physically and emotionally, for so many years because I've told myself I don't fit in. Well, that morning I decided I do fit in, simply because I showed up.
And, yes, I was the last one to finish the mile. But who's keeping track?