Skip to content

Out of My League

Out of My League

Portland Marathon on the back of her shirt hit me like a billboard shouting EXIT HERE! 

Six weeks earlier, inspired by the scale displaying the upper end of my annual winter weight, I’d signed up to run a 10k.  

I’d no sooner put my plan in place when headlines read Spring Fails to Start in the Midwest. Shivering sleet and snow substituted for the hoped-for season of cool mornings and sunny afternoons. 

Respite from the weather came during a beach week with friends. I pledged a daily run.  Chill and rain followed me to the coast, but persistence meant progress. Upon my return, I plugged away with short runs, but fell far behind my intended training schedule. 

Nevertheless, today was the day I would attempt my goal. 

I arrive early, surprised to see so few cars in the parking lot. There is no long line at check-in. As runners stretch and chat, I secretly study their bodies. They stretch their muscular lean limbs in ways I’ve only watched in yoga videos. They chat lightheartedly and laugh like people who do this for fun.  

“Come join us,” says a friendly voice. “We were just talking about how cold it’s been for all of the races we’ve done this year so far.”  So far? They’ve done in multiple races already? It wasn’t even May. I am so out of my league. 

I’d made it through a 5k or two in my life. But they included parents with small children and slow speeds with pancakes at the end. No one would notice the style of my running shoes or any tears of overwhelm. With my short legs and somewhat senior status, I belonged. 

Not this day. 

Off we went. I focus on being the tortoise rather than hare. I redirect my gaze to the blue of the sky and the green of the grass. I look for birds. I pace myself behind other runners who don’t appear to be racing. I allow myself an occasional thirty second walk break. 

By the time I hit the halfway mark, I no longer hear any runners behind me. Soon I see only a handful ahead. A smiling man on a bicycle approaches on the trail from the opposite direction. “Just checking for any runners still out,” he smiles.   

If I’d had the breath I would have shouted an apology for troubling him. 

As I reach the final mile, a lump rises in my throat. I muster a nod and wave of thanks to the clapping volunteers. A few yards from the finish line, I recognize my friends Rick and Mark. Avid athletes, they’d long ago finished but hung around to cheer me as the third to the last to finish. 

One hour. Five minutes. Goal met. 

This year I’m settling for a 5k. Regardless of what league I’m in, I’m grateful to get to play the game. 

Coach Koenig 

                        Is it time to get outside of your comfort zone? 

                        What will you focus on despite the obstacles? 

                        Who will cheer you across the finish line?



  1. Beautiful story, Coach Koenig!

  2. I love this story Susan!

  3. Love this!

  4. You made it, brave one!!👏👏❤️

Comments are closed for this article!