Run Like the Wind, Plow Horse!


When I was in elementary we didn’t have all the organized sport leagues for kids like there are now. Especially not in small, town rural America. During the summer we had softball for the girls and baseball for the boys. Everyone played.

During the school year the kids with parents who could afford it took ballet lessons or piano lessons. One girl had parents who even drove her to Cape weekly for gymnastic lessons. There weren’t too many who had these opportunities.

However, once we hit seventh grade school sports were open to everyone. In middle school I played volleyball, basketball, and ran track. The only one  I actually showed any potential in was track.

I remember the first day of practice the coach had us dress out. Then as soon as we were ready we waited in a single file line on the baseline in the gym. He gave us some spiel about our ankles telling him what kind of runners we would be, and that as he worked his way down the line we would be assigned either race horse or plow horse.

Beauty. Grace. Speed. Small ankles.

Race horses would have thin, narrow ankles and would make good sprint and hurdle runners. Plough horses would have thick, solid ankles and make good distance runners. No one wanted to be a plow horse. 

The butterflies in my stomach were doing the Macarena by the time Coach reached my end of the line. I would be lucky if my lunch of four macaroon granola bars didn’t come back up on my ankles before he got to me. Then what would I be? A colicky horse? Put down?

Look at those ankles!

I’d like to say I was surprised when he glanced up from my ankles to say, “Huffman, plow horse.” before moving to the next specimen, but I knew. The student secretary gave me a fake smile and moved along right behind him.

It wasn’t many days later while running on the practice football field that Coach hollered across the field at me. “Huffman, if you’d cut off all that hair you’d probably shave a good 30 seconds or more off your time! It’s catching the wind and holding you back!”

As much as I hated running, I loved it. I never completely mastered the skill because I took a job my freshman year in high school and couldn’t work and play sports. It’s the one thing in particular I remember my dad and grandpa both coming to watch me participate in on purpose by choice.

My grandpa used to tell me he was going to bring a pea shooter that way when the monkey jumped on my back the last 250 of my mile…



I typically was the front runner for the first two laps, shared that lead for the third, and wound up in second or third after the fourth. I couldn’t ever find my second wind to sprint to the end. That or that invisible monkey must have weighed 600 pounds! 

I wish we had Cross Country when I was in school. I love going to those meets and cheering for the kids. I know what it feels like to be out there, alone, wanting to set a PR and wanting to quit before the next foot falls at the same time, and I know just how much difference the voice of even one person telling you, encouraging you, to shake that monkey off, keep it up, lengthen/shorten your stride, push a little harder can mean. 

My own kiddo running Cross Country this fall.

And you know, those same phrases, the same drive to compete, to complete, to continue moving forward exists in everything we do in life. 

I am still a plow horse. My hair is still probably holding me back. That monkey never weighed 600 pounds; there’s more than one of them. I’ve even given some of them names finally: Doubter (self-doubt), Pissy (pessimism), Half-Way (quitter), Dandelion (lack of focus), should I go on?

If I could go back and change something? I’d run in high school. Work? I’m going to for the rest of my life. I truly enjoyed track. I wish I had stuck with it as the memories and lessons learned have stuck with me.

Inspiration for this post was taken from 30 Days of Your Stories . Please hop over to her blog and check out her awesome idea!!!

You can link to MY 30 days of stories below!

1. Saturday mornings
2. Neighbors
3. Vacation
4. Music
5. Accents
6. Cars
7. Books
8. Purse
9. Your favorite grade
10. Your Go-To Story
11. Holidays
12. Letter to yourself as a teenager
13. Lying
14. Pets
15. Sports
16. Your Room
17. One time you weren’t cool
18. Weather
19. Recipe
20. What you want to remember
21. Traveling
22. Shoes
23. Favorite Bible verse
24. Your bravest moment
25. Garden
26. Your favorite color
27. The breathings of your heart
28. Comfort
29. The book inside you

30. Your worst fear
photo credit: tableatny via photopin cc
photo credit: Carine06 via photopin cc
photo credit: Trevor Dennis via photopin cc
photo credit: chachlate via photopin cc
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2 responses to this post.

  1. Wonderful article and love ” And you know, those same phrases, the same drive to compete, to complete, to continue moving forward exists in everything we do in life.” perfect 🙂

    Reply

  2. Awesome article. I have a dozen or so monkeys of my own…time to dump them and get running in my own race.

    Reply

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