After bringing home the class hampster in 2nd grade, I ended up on the couch for a week unable to breathe. Turns out I had a tad of asthma, mostly in conjunction with my allergies. Get the wrong kind of mammal hair floating around me and I was gasping and wheezing like an 80-year-old chain smoker. But in general, it wasn’t something that hampered my daily life.

Except gym class. At that point of elementary life, I hated to run. The most probable reason is because of my lack of zip, but I’m sure general laziness lent a good supporting role. And, let’s be honest: if you’re looking for natural athleticism, you’re looking toward the wrong sister (though you ARE reading the words of the 4th grade Stay Healthy Get Fit award. Yep, I won a basketball. Cling to what is good, my friends!). So in my lack of zeal for laps, I continually reminded my gym teacher that I had asthma and can’t breathe, so I can’t run that far. She was wise and knew with whom to pick an argument, so she let me run 2 rather than 3 laps. I win.

But if you want the honest truth, I had a flaw a bit deeper (I know, you’re gasping with surprise that I have a flaw, but I tell you, it’s true!). I felt I was special. I had a condition that excused me from the troubles that all the other 2nd graders were facing, such as those pesky 3rd laps. I mean, why should I be bothered by such short-of-breath-ness?

What I wish Mrs. McKinley would’ve told me was that tiredness and lack-of-breath just come with running. And sometimes, running is just part of the coursework. Some like it, some do it because they have to, and no one is being held to a speed criteria. You just have to finish. Heck, there aren’t even extra points for good form. I’ve only known one “B” in phys ed (the girl who was co-valedictorian with me) and it didn’t even count toward the GPA (I still feel cheated).

There’s a temptation out there to try to find the get-out-of-havoc-of-life-free card. Something gave us this false sense that in our day-to-day, frustrations shouldn’t exist. Tired? How can I be tired? Well, perhaps from living. Work, family, dishes piling up in the sink – it takes energy from you. It’s a fact of life. No one is waltzing through this world without a stress or two.

So, to those who feel that the last lap just isn’t for them, I say buckle down. Man up. I’m sure you can find a doctor out there to put a name to your condition, but life is still going to cause you to get out of breath. And hear me correctly: I’m not saying “get over it.” Some things in life you don’t “get over”. But push through. Because at the end of the day, you still have to pay the bills, love your kids and do the dishes. It’s part of the coursework.

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