Last month, I was at Jonah’s track meet waiting for his race. It was one of those big messy meets with a dozen teams and lots of heats that included freshman, JV, and varsity. The freshmen get their own races, because the boys especially haven’t hit puberty yet. Their little skinny legs can’t keep up with the older boys.
When the gun went off for the 4 x 800 JV race, two teams pulled out in front immediately. Those towns specialized in track and field and even their JV runners were great. The other five teams loped far behind. One team, in particular, was terrible. Their runners fell further and further behind. By the time, it came to the last runner on the relay, they were a full lap behind the two really great teams and a sizable distance away from everyone else.
I watched that last runner starting his leg of the race and felt bad for him. It’s pretty miserable to be so far behind everyone else. Getting lapped is humiliating. It’s depressing to still be running, while the officials are waiting for you to finish, and the runners for the next race are anxiously pacing waiting to line up to run. Hundreds of parents are watching you alone on the track.
Even from far away, I could see that the last runner was terrible. He was slow and had an awkward stride that had to compensate for a huge butt and hips. As the runner came around the track closer to me, I could see why. He was genetically a girl. His shaved head couldn’t hide the hips and the butt.
Testosterone is a real bitch. Guys are always faster than girls, because they’ve got it. Freshman boys don’t have it, so that’s why they get their own races. This runner didn’t have it. And this runner was so curvy that he wouldn’t have even been a good girl runner.
As the runner came around for the second lap, the lap that he had to take entirely by himself, I cheered wildly. Go! Go! Go! You’re almost there! How much courage does it take to defy genetics, so you can do something that you really, really want to do?
After the JV race, the varsity runners ran. Jonah breezed by in 2 minutes and 3 seconds and then promptly ate a second lunch of the day.