Slow athletes have some amazing stories – there’s a lot of inspiration to be found at the back of the pack. Slow athletes deserve to have places to tell our stories, and to have (and be!) role models. The Celebrating Slow Series is a place to do just that. If you have a story that you would like featured here, just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org.
I first connected with Aja Yasir when she very kindly invited me to be a guest on her awesome podcast. Then when I put out the word that I was looking for stories of slow athletes, Aja answered the call with an amazing personal story. I so appreciate the work that she is doing and the stories she is telling, including her own. Here’s Aja’s story which she calls “Running Through Molasses:”
I sort of grew up in Washington Park on Chicago’s notorious south side. Running probably wasn’t something kids in my neighborhood saw very much. My mom was a marathon runner so running was part of my normal. She says I started running in that park when I was 5 or 6.
Sometimes she would take a group of neighborhood kids with us. I really didn’t realize how revolutionary that was until very recently. She’d have us run the entire 1.5 mile loop around the park. Some say it’s a bit more.
There was one girl, Tanisha, who’d sprint around that park. It was pretty amazing. I don’t know what Tanisha is doing today but I hope she’s still speed running somewhere. Most of the kids walked. Some would walk/run. But there I was, the roundest kid out there, and pretty slow. But I just wouldn’t stop. Stopping wasn’t in my blood. I just couldn’t. Stopping seemed like giving up and though I wanted to give up sometimes, I simply refused.
So I ran slowly.
Back then I didn’t realize how the lesson of running slowly and pushing through would get me through the most difficult times in my life. That park shaped me in ways I can’t even fully explain.
My daughter died on January 19, 2016.
It still hurts to write that.
I don’t know what to do with the grief that comes along with losing a child. I don’t know what to do with the anxiety. I don’t know what to do with the depression. I don’t know what to do when my throat closes and my tongue falls silent and I can’t breathe because I desperately want to hold her again.
So I run.
I don’t need to clock my time. I don’t need to sprint in intervals.
I don’t need to sweat profusely.
I just need to run. I need to appreciate
I need to feel.
I need to feel the wind blowing through my hair, the sweet morning dew on my skin, the sun shining through green leaves. I need to feel alive because I feel numb, maybe even dead most times.
Running slowly reminds me that through pain, the simple beauty of life still exists.
It reminds me to keep pushing no matter what. It reminds me to be gentle with myself.
Maybe one day I’ll get there. No rush.
You can find more about Aja and her kick ass work at www.flauntperformance.com
If you have a story about being a slow athlete at any sport (competitive or not,) e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org, I would love to include you!
If you can’t get enough of the awesome inspiration from slow athletes, check out the other entries in the series: