Celebrating Slow – Running Through Molasses

celebrating-slow-200-x-200Slow 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




of it.

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 ajacan 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:

Ultra Slow Ultramarathoner

Swimming in the Slow Lane

About Ragen Chastain

Hi, I’m Ragen Chastain. Speaker, Writer, Dancer, Choreographer, Marathoner, Soon to be Iron-distance triathlete, Activist, Fat Person.
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6 Responses to Celebrating Slow – Running Through Molasses

  1. Angela says:

    Aja, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful, inspirational, and heart-rending story. I have tears overflowing from my eyes. Ragen, thank you for providing a platform for these wonderful stories to be shared. ❤


  2. zoeforman says:

    Brave & strong to share this.
    Now keep running 😀


  3. Loved reading this and I think I needed to read about Aja’s experience with slow running and why it means so much to her. I often find myself running in my own slow way and telling people that I don’t like to run because I’m not fast, or I don’t consider myself to be a “natural” runner. But I think it’s more aligned with what Aja said about appreciating life, my body’s abilities, being able to confront challenges in my own way, etc. I think of my father, who died of ALS and how he was a very active person before his illness, but lost all his mobility very quickly with the disease; I think of him a lot when I run and it helps me to appreciate my body’s current ability to do what I ask of it.

    Strength, gratitude, support, and love to you, Aja, and may your daughter’s memory always be for a blessing ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. lsstrout says:

    Aja, thank you for sharing your story.


  5. Denny says:

    Very inspiration article by Aja!


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