So one of my favorite aspects of being a non-residential member of Back on My Feet Philadelphia is that, since the moment we signed up, each of us had a unique experience. Some of us joined in the dead of winter, while others registered in the oppressive heat of summer. Some of us have run 5k’s in Avalon, while others have run Half-Marathons in Delaware. But despite all the differences that exist within each of our experiences after there is one similar story that we all share. One story that unites us all.
The story of our first day out.
And for some, myself included, that first day was rather intimidating. Many of us woke up that first morning in the darkness of the wee hours of the morning, without much of an idea of what to expect.
We ran, biked, or drove down to meet the group, armed with the information provided to us during our volunteer orientation, reminding ourselves of the kind warning imparted to us, “We hug!”.
So needless to say, our first morning out can be mildly overwhelming, and that is why I decided to try and do my part to make that initial run a little easier. Cause for all the challenges we might find on that day, navigating to find the group, difficult weather, or the fact that you haven’t been awake that early since that time you ate that questionable Mexican food, surely the challenge of language shouldn’t be one of them.
So it is for that reason that I have decided to take it upon myself to teach you a small lesson, to teach you how to speak Back on My Feet Philly. The following should serve as an unofficial glossary of terms to get you through those first few mornings out with the group.
Morning Runs- The most likely cause of you falling asleep at your desk at 3pm.
Leg Swings- A series of exercises that will make you feel like an idiot for losing your balance.
The Serenity Prayer- 1. The prayer we say before each run.
2. The moment you are glad you remembered to brush your teeth.
Sleeping in- Refers to setting your alarm clock to 6am.
Tall Guy- Evan
Short girl- Caitlin
Josie's Mom- Jill
Double Pants- The practice of wearing two pairs of pants in the winter to fight the cold morning runs.
Team Leader- The person who sends you those e-mails you never read.
Coach- The person who takes credit for most of what the Team Leader does.
Volunteer Coordinator- The person most likely to hunt you down and find you after you miss a week’s worth of runs.
“Let’s circle up”- What we say when we mean, “Okay, shut up, it’s time to stretch”.
Car ride to the race- Where you wish for a good race.
Car ride home from the race- Where you wish you had remembered to wear deodorant.
“Can you go inside and see if (insert name) is coming out this morning?”- Translation: “Can you go inside and drag (insert name)’s a@$ out here.
OBP- Our Brother’s Place
RWA- Ready, Willing, and Able
St. John’s- Late.
Routes Take One- When the coach/team leader gives the turn by turn direction of the course for the day.
Routes Take Two- When the coach/team leader repeats the directions cause no one was listening the first time.
Morning Announcements- The forty five seconds before each run when you learn what ’22 degrees, feels 8 degrees’ means.
Broad Street - Fun
Cesar Rodney- Hills.
Walk-Run- The practice where we walk for three miles, only to reach the end and realize we forgot to add the run part.
“Try not to throw up”- Good advice.
“Leave it all on the course”- Bad advice (see above), as we know now, ‘puke’ technically falls under “it all”.
“I like your pace…”- A pick-up line/excuse to run next to a cute male or female.
Wind Chill Factor- The number that will tell you how many hours it will take to feel your toes again.
Lloyd Hall- 1. The place along Kelly Drive where we meet for Philadelphia Chapter wide long runs.
2. The site of Back on My Feet’s 20in24 race.
3. The location where the bathrooms are always locked when you have to pee.
Winter Hug- A quick way to warm up.
Summer Hug- A quick way to get sweaty.
Shower Burn- The burn you feel when the hot water of the shower meets your frozen skin.
Each of these terms will serve as solid beginning in learning how to speak the language of Back on My Feet Philly. It serves as a beginning not because the list has been shortened, but because it is a list that cannot be completed. Cause, you see, the real language of Back on My Feet Philly, is one that is never spoken. It’s not the words we use, the phrases we utter, or even the sentences we recite together.
No, the true language is the one that we hear when no one is speaking.
It’s heard in the moments when you watch someone cross the finish line of a race, then promptly turn around to run back into the fray to help someone else finish. It’s heard in the silence between strained breaths as two people run side by side up a hill. It’s heard in the times when one sweaty hand reaches for a water bottle only to hand it to the person next to them. It’s heard in the smiles, and the hugs, the tears, and the fist bumps. It’s heard in the way a finisher’s medal bounces around ones neck. And it’s heard on those mornings, those dark mornings that we all have when we think we don’t want to hear it, on those mornings that we need it the most.
It’s the language that we feel before we understand it. It’s the language that finds us on that first morning out, the one that makes us want to come back for a second.
And it’s the language that challenges us all, each morning, to ask ourselves the most important question of all…
“Am I listening?”