I just put on my traveling shoes.

When I was starting high school, I kind of wanted to be on the cross-country team, but it didn’t work out for a variety of reasons. When my brother started high school, he joined the team, and I was too proud to join at the same time he did. I did not want to be second best. I do not like to lose. Also, I like to know the ropes. So I didn’t join. The closest I came to the team was driving my brother home from practices.

I wonder sometimes if I could have been a runner back then. I wonder if I would have been able to be more disciplined about it, if I would have had more drive. I wonder if I could have been better, if a more athletic version of me could have existed. I wouldn’t call it regret, exactly, but sometimes you look back and you wonder how things would be different if you had made a different choice.

When my brother was a junior in high school, his cross country team ran in the state finals. It ended up being one of those really cinematic sports moments, at least for me. We weren’t exactly sure what the score was, but we knew that it was really close. And the 6th runner on our team, a friend of ours who was the year between me and Joseph, he insisted that our team was going to win because he knew he had passed their runner near the end. There was some kind of delay in the scoring, and when they finally started announcing the results, they had to stop because something had been miscalculated. In the end, our friend was right – it came down to a tie, and my brother’s team won the state championship because our 6th man outpaced their 6th man. I could have told this story better ten years ago. I can’t remember all the details, but I remember the feeling of it, how proud I was (and still am), the team celebrating together, the images of them smiling with their really short hair (they had all made some kind of pact to cut their hair a few weeks before the finals).

This year, I have run in 4 5K races. Four! Three of them have been with friends. The last one was just a few weeks ago, and Mike, my brother, and I all ran in it together. They were really nice about it, too. Joseph can obviously run a whole lot longer than I can, and Mike’s legs are longer than mine. But they very kindly waited for me. It was special to be running with the two of them.

Sometimes when I am running, I think of my brother’s state championship race. It’s one of the only races of his that I saw, for all kinds of reasons. I was busy, and it was his thing, and I stayed away. I do that too much, staying away when I am intimidated or insecure. But now I am a runner, too. Sort of. And I am glad that my brother and I can run together. It’s something we should have done a long time ago.

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