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“I’m the second fastest in my class!”

This is a pretty powerful statement. It feels like another small miracle when I think about how we got to this point.

Who knew that all it took was a change in venue, a change of scenery, to find success? It shouldn’t be surprising. After all, how many high school students apply to schools far from home just for the chance to reinvent themselves? I know because I was one of them.

Heath and I may never have met if he didn’t decide to start over somewhere else after graduating college. And if we didn’t meet, Gavin would not have walked through the door this afternoon stating his accomplishment.

The second fastest runner in his gym class. Who knew? Gavin has always been smarter than he is athletic. His worst nightmare was starting middle school where gym class is held every day. When they started the running unit he thought he might die.

He never believed he could run a mile. At least not without hyperventilating and passing out. I told him to do his best. If I could run in school and live to tell the tale, so could he.

The difference between us is I never was that good at running. I did not enjoy it at all. I never wanted to enjoy it. It was just one of those requirements. A hoop to jump through to get the grade and move onto more intellectual pursuits.

Now I did take a weight training class in high school that I fell in love with. I had no idea I would love weight training so much. But it was my favorite class. One thing about weight training is that you have to do some sort of aerobic activity to make lifting weights effective. My teacher made us run around the track at the beginning of every class. Before we could even think of running for our favorite machine in the weight room, we first had to run the track.

In the beginning I hated it. I walked and talked with my friends more than I ran. Gavin says there are kids who bend down to tie their shoes a lot. I never tried that trick. It was more like run 30 paces and then bend over huffing and puffing from the side cramp. Then walk a lap and a half and try running maybe another 20 paces. Rinse, lather, repeat.

I don’t remember what the turning point was but I started running for my weight training class. I was not good at it and certainly not the second fastest in my class. But I got to a point where I was comfortable with it. I could run to get my heart rate up. And it made a difference. My abilities increased to lift weights and my stamina increased in my step aerobics class. I’m sure my step aerobics class helped me run without dying.

All I ever wanted for Gavin was just to appreciate his ability to run. I never expected him to discover a hidden talent for it. He never expected that either. Yet somehow his times keep improving. He can run an eight minute mile! I was more around the ten to eleven minute range. I was happier around fifteen. Those side cramps hurt less around fifteen minutes!

I don’t know what’s normal for an 11 year old boy who has never had any interest in anything physical. Eight minutes sounds pretty awesome to me. He probably should have a conversation with some family members who run. My brother found his niche on the cross country team. His wife runs marathons. They’re a happy little running family. Gavin’s cousin Garrett has gone to state on his cross country team. His sister Melina has a talent for running but not quite the burning desire to do much with it right now. She may change her mind.

The other thing that impresses me about Gavin’s running is how much it has opened up his confidence. He can play basketball really well. He can toss and catch a football better than I can. I know that’s not saying much but Gavin used to take after me when it came to sports – afraid of the ball. He has turned into this competent athlete. All because he took running the mile as a personal challenge.

I love that all it took was leaving elementary school and starting middle school. Sometimes all it takes is a change in scenery to discover greatness.

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