(This ENOW is brought to you by a new writer to our site, Claire Gibson herself!!! Look forward to more updates and ENOW write-ups from her in the future.)
Hi, I’m Claire, and I used to be a closeted runner.
I grew up in a military family and moved eight times in 16 years. In the midst of all that change, on thing stayed the same. No matter where I lived, I was constantly surrounded by packs of soldiers running PT, the Army’s physical training. Cadences echoed through my windows starting at 5:30 a.m. every day of the week, and by age 10, male voices huffing “When my granny was 92, she did PT better than you” became my regular alarm clock.
Despite the mass of running clubs that surrounded me daily, I was never enticed to join—a running club, or the military. I believed what they shouted every morning, that someone’s grandmother probably was faster than me, and that was reason enough to avoid discussing my secret love of the road. Instead, I was a closeted runner.
I didn’t want anyone to know I enjoyed running—because I felt I wasn’t good enough at it yet. My secret was safe, and no one ever asked me how my training was going—because to everyone else, I was never training. In college, my runs grew longer and I grew to enjoy them more. I started thinking I might be faster than that granny after all—but never shared my love with anyone else.
So what would lead a girl like me to join East Nasty, the largest running club this side of Fort Campbell?
After graduating from Furman University in South Carolina, I joined Teach for America and moved to Nashville to mold the minds of 12-year-olds. Daily I would return home sapped of energy, lucky if I could even go on a walk, let alone a decent run. Three years of teaching nearly killed my secret running habit—that is, until this year.
In January, I found out that my teaching position is being eliminated next year. I am losing my job. But don’t go feeling sorry for me. That bad news gave me permission to leave teaching for a writing career—something I’ve feared and put off for years. What if I’m no good? It’s the same question that had plagued me about running. That day, I went to Fleet Feet and bought a new pair of running shoes. After fourteen years fearing being the last one in the pack—Mark Miller convinced me to come run with East Nasty.
Though my fears were still present, it didn’t take long to realize they were irrational. Rather than competitive, East Nasties are friendly, inclusive and motivating. My first Wednesday night run was very dark and I had no headlamp—but a stranger let me run beneath the light of hers so I wouldn’t fall. People asked my name, and the cadence I heard was of folks getting to know each other. Then and there, I was so thankful not to be alone.
In this new season of change, I’m blessed to be running with a team. Because we can’t do this journey alone, and sooner or later, the truth always comes out. I’m thankful it did.
(Read more of Claire’s work here.)