My 5k journey started just over one year ago. My naturist journey started just days later. Or did it? Perhaps we need to go back further….
1995 was my first year of middle school. Back then we called it ‘junior high’, or just simply ‘7th grade’. This was, unarguably, my best year of school. My grades were excellent, I was focused on my hobbies and interests, and I had science class with the guy I had a crush on.
But, it was a very rough school year as well. I learned that being blind was a barrier to playing sports, and some adults who were teachers by day and coaches immediately after last bell, were also horrible human-beings. After being told I was ‘in the way’ during volleyball practice (after being pulled from the team as a player because I couldn’t see the regulation white colored ball against the white colored gym walls, and instead being relegated to ‘student manager’, which was fancy-talk for ‘water girl’) and subsequently walking out of practice in tears, I learned that not ALL teacher-coaches were horrible human-beings… but I only put two and two together about one year ago.
Our history teacher was also the athletic director. He was also my home room teacher that year, and my passion-hobby at the time was the American Revolutionary War. A couple weeks or so after I walked out of the gym in tears, he pulled me out into the hallway during homeroom. I was the goody-two-shoes kid who never got into trouble, so this was strange to me. We sat on the stops in the hallway, and he said he’d heard what happened with volleyball. He said he had done some research and found a sport I could participate in as a blind person, and that if were interested, I could join the team right away. Then he said the sport was ‘cross country running’. He had me up to that point…. and quickly lost me. I was athletic, and I could run, but I hated it. It hurt. My chest, my throat, the stitch in my side, the stinging sensation in my skin and aches in my muscles. I hated it all. I flat turned him down. It didn’t even matter that the guy I had a crush on was on the team. Running was a ‘no way!’ In my teenage opinion. That was the STUPIDEST thing I did as a teenager! Now I realize just what that teacher-coach had done; the research, the support, the genuine caring. I threw it all back in his face without a single thought to the gift he had so painstakingly wrapped and given me. But, I didn’t think abou it at all… until March of 2019.
I’m an avid Facebook user. I love that I can connect with people in an indirect and low-key sort of way. Despite all the horrors of attending school, I still have classmates on my Facebook contacts. We’ve known each other since we were at least 5yrs old. I can’t say that any of them have been close friends, but I can say I’ve forgiven them for being horrible little children, and they’ve pretty much all turned out to be pretty good adults. One of these classmates was hard-hit in a flood back home, and many of the condolences were from people we had gone to school with. Many of them I hadn’t thought of since the last time I’d seen them. Some I was still connected with via Facebook. One name leapt out at me however; they guy from my 7th grade crush. He’d moved away by 9th grade, but I never forgot him. All these years later he was still the template to which I compared every male I would potentially date. My preferences for tall, thin, blonde, and genius-level intelligence all were directly influenced by him and my admiration from junior high. I’d searched for him on Facebook before, but the locations never matched up. All I ever found were old articles about highschool cross-country meets. Now, out of the blue, here he was, sending well-wishes to someone who’d been one of his closer friends in junior high. Definitely no doubt it was the right guy. I did something I never do; sent a friend request. He accepted it.
I’m never the person to initiate a social interaction. My social anxiety makes that nearly impossible for me to do, and I’m not one to make myself unnecessarily uncomfortable. I also perceived back in 1995 that my crush was even less likely to be comfortable with social intersection, and I did not get the impression that had changed a great deal 25 years later. I liked posed. He liked mine. I congratulated him on his running, which I wasn’t surprised to see he still participated in. I found out that he was still as competitive as he had been in the articles I found his name in from back in highschool. He won, often. It made me so happy to see his success, and I became quite a fan and supporter. I was inspired. I’m only 4mo older than him, but he was living the physical life he’d been living in highschool. I was living the physical life of some more my grandmothers age. I wanted to feel as good as I figured he probably felt. I hated running, and the pain associated with it, but surely it must not be so bad if someone can do it amazingly after 35 years of age. Following his success also fed into my own competitive nature. I found I wanted him to win, not just because we were friends, but because, for whatever reason, it MATTERED. Not much in my life at that point mattered, but his success DID. He was still the male template of my life, but now there was a real substance; caring about the actual person, and having their existence matter within your own existence. Being inspired is powerful stuff, and I was definitely inspired. I wanted to win like he did. But, man, I did not want to run! It floated around in my head as ethereal idea, but not something I’d probably ever do. So I just keep cheering on my friend, which my subconscious chewed on the idea, unbeknown to my conscious brain.
I’ve always been of a mindset which, in these politically charged times, would be called ‘leftist’. I don’t break the social rules, but I don’t believe in a lot of them either. COEXIST is my motto. DO NO HARM is my philosophy. I’m a deep thinker, and hold all the usual social taboos up against my philosophy. If what you do is not harming anything (nature, humanity, and to a lesser extent, self) than I see no reason to regulate it. So, when I saw an article about a nude 5k, I reposted it on Facebook. I tagged my running inspiration on it, saying that’d be an interesting experience, except for the sunburn. I didn’t think he’d even respond.
Perhaps a day later I received a PM from my running friend. It started out on the lines of “if this makes you uncomfortable just delete it and we’ll pretend it never happened’ followed by a link with an explanation that he had actually participated in a nude 5k, and made a blog video accounting the experience. Being of an open mind, and having received this from someone who was the body and mind of the ideal male, and a budding of genuine friendship having begun in the previous months, I opened the link.
No Pants Endurance (NPE) The quiet genius from junior high, the man-template, my running inspiration, and my dearest friend, is non other than our funny, deep, fabulously put together fellow blogger. Our friendship has evolved in a myriad of ways in 25 years. I probably nearly killed him with embarrassment in junior high when I sent him a Valentine cookie attached to a paper heart that read ‘friends’ (I last-minute opted out of the ‘I love you’ one… that would have killed him.), and I doubt he thought of me really at all. We didn’t talk back then. 25 years later he gets a Facebook request from the grownup version of the girl who went way out on a limb to to let her feelings be known. A few months later he would go out on a similarly unsteady limb and let that woman into a part of his life that is a closely guarded and reserved for the cyber world primarily.
It turns out NPE has inspired so many of the best things about my life. The video from his nude 5k was the deciding factor in getting me out of my bed and into running shoes. I’d seen all the great places he travelled on his runs. I saw the unique opportunity to do something amazingly freeing and thrilling and so much a part of the ideals and principles and philosophies I’d built my life around. I saw something I wanted to do badly enough for so many deep-set reasons that I didn’t even consciously realize, that I couldn’t not do it. I was going to RUN… for 3.1mi… nude.
This month marks a year since my 5k journey began. This month also marks a year since my Naturist journey began. That is when everything came together, a lifetime of things, all rolled up into a single obtainable goal. A week ago it all came together.
NPE and I did not run a nude 5k. We did a regular 10k later in the week however. We DID visit a Naturist resort in OK however, and very much enjoyed their wonderful hiking trails, and a skinny-dip in the pool after! The day was perfection! Stay tuned for my thoughts on my first Naturist Experience!