A little boost

A little boost

As long I can remember there have been two things that I  wished I could do – sing and run. Unfortunately, I was a chubby little girl who couldn’t carry a tune despite all my dad’s encouragement. The very first song I remember learning was Rocky Top, an old bluegrass song. I was probably 6 or 7 years old, sitting in the backseat of a red Pontiac GTO with the windows rolled down, and Daddy was teaching my little sister Tammie and me how to sing it. It wasn’t long before we were belting it out at the top of our voices. 
Wish that I was on old rocky top, 
down in the Tennesse hills
Ain’t no smoggy smoke on rocky top, 
ain’t no telephone bills.

My sister Tammie and me with the family car – a 1967 Pontiac GTO.
I sure wish I had that car now.
My dad, Delmar Loftis.

     “Oh, that sounded pretty, girls,” Daddy would say. “Let’s try it one more time.”
      It’s funny how certain memories are burned into your mind forever and that’s one I’ll never forget. I even remember Mom saying, “OK, Delmar, that’s enough” when her nerves had taken all she could stand.

       In spite of all Daddy’s compliments on my singing, I found out that God had not blessed me vocally when the entire classroom fell silent following my attempt to sing “America the Beautiful” during sixth grade choir tryouts. After a long awkward pause, the teacher said, “Give it a try next year, dear.” That ended my career as a singer.
      As for running, I was always the very slowest in the class, but that didn’t stop me from wishing I was a “runner.” Even as a little girl, I would see people running along city sidewalks on summer afternoons, and I’d imagine it was me running along as if I could continue for miles and miles.  
Tim and I ran the New Orleans half
marathon to celebrate our 32nd wedding
anniversary on Feb. 24.
      The desire to run never really left my mind, but I never made time for physical activity until I was 49. The idea of turning 50 scared me a little, plus my weight had ballooned to never-before-seen numbers on the scale. So, I started walking and eventually  added running a little at a time. I even started running in local races and joined the Idiots Running Club, a group of kind and supportive runners of all levels and abilities.

      This past weekend, my husband Tim and I traveled to New Orleans to celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary by running the Rock N Roll half marathon. During the race, I tried to focus only on positive thoughts. I constantly repeated mantras from some of my favorite runners: David Murphy’s “eye on the prize,” Jamie Rigdon’s “focused, fierce and fearless to the finish” Gene and Penny Britt and Kelli Humphries’ “brave the run.” I went over all the good advice and encouragement from my friend and running coach Jeff Kline at PrsFit. All of this, plus the music from the bands along the course and the support from spectators kept my mind occupied. 
      But around mile 12, fatigue had set in. My legs felt like concrete, sweat was dripping off my ponytail, I had a blister forming on my right foot, and my hip was throbbing. The positive thoughts faded along with my pace. Soon I was trudging along, walking and wondering why on earth I was doing this. 
      What was I thinking? 
      I have no business out here. 
      I don’t wannt to do this anymore.  
      I think I’m just going to walk the rest of the way – after all my hip hurts.
     I heard the last band of the race playing just ahead and the final notes of Georgia Satellites’ “Change in My Pockets” drifted away just as I got within sight of them. As I approached, the band kicked off a song I hadn’t heard since Daddy died of Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 2006. The lead singer stepped up to the mic, our eyes met and he started singing.


Wish that I was on old rocky top, 
down in the Tennesse hills
Ain’t no smoggy smoke on rocky top, 
ain’t no telephone bills.

God had given me a little boost. I didn’t stop running until I crossed the finish line.

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