Running: My Grain

Standing casually on the stairs so that he rose above the heads of the other runners, Peter Lam said, “Coach Jim is not here today, so you are left with me introducing our course, and our group leaders, if they show up … Since the leaders must be delayed, I will stall for time.” Phil Vorvick listened to the announcement and whispered to those around him, “There is no sweeter spirit among us runners than Peter.”

Peter continued, “Everyone has a story. Some good, some bad, but deep down we all carry things around in life. Unpacking those belongings are our life stories. About twenty years ago, after our mom died, my older sister told me that our mom was always trying to get rid of me. She did not succeed. My story goes like this:”

“My parents had far more children than the traditional Chinese family. After their seventh child, they knew that they could not afford any more kids. My mom became pregnant with her eighth child and a friend pulled her aside. ‘If you don’t want the child, drink this,’ and she handed her an elixir which was supposed to lead to miscarriage. She got sick but it didn’t work, so she took a second dose of the concoction. She felt wretched but still no miscarriage. After that she took the infant to term. I am that eighth child, that irritating grain in my mother’s womb.”

“Born a bit under five pounds, my older brothers and sisters all weighed more than eight pounds at birth. From early on, I had lots of headaches and got sick a lot as a child and I took to running to keep up my strength. One health challenge that persisted was migraine headaches. They are devastating and I have to spend the rest of the day in the dark, sleeping off the pounding pain in my head. When I run, I have a choice to run really fast, or suffer migraines.”

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Brain with migraines

“I admire people who can run much faster than I can, though, I try to compare less and less. These days I find it healthier to measure myself against my own last race and my own personal best. I find that helps me. If I can say, ‘I ran that one faster than the last race and I didn’t get a migraine, then I am a double winner.'”

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“I have been in the States for so long my Chinese friends say that I speak poor Mandarin. And you can tell, I also speak poor English, but I tell stories anyway.”

“On your run today, set your own goals, and share your story with your running partners.”

“Some of the group leaders are here now, so let’s get started …”