Hi! I’m Jackie, and I like to chase things. And people. But not cars. I’m not a dog…although I’ve been known to reward myself with food.

I’ve spent the majority of my running career as a back-of-the-pack or sometimes a mid-pack runner. The two whole minutes I spent at the front of the group that one 5K…yeah, that sucked. I have a signed agreement with my mitochondria that it will never happen again.

When you’re in the middle or back of a group of runners, you’re always chasing somebody. More often than not, there’s another woman that I will chase, then pass. She’ll eventually pass me, and the cycle will continue until the finish line. If I perceive her to be in my age bracket, I will push harder to beat her. You never know when there could be a medal on the line!

Sometimes I feel like Wile E. Coyote trying to catch the Road Runner. This past Saturday, I decided to meet two friends at the park for a short run for me…and a cooldown for them. After getting there early, I decided to forego our previously arranged meeting spot and meet them a little further out. The plan backfired when they didn’t see me coming, and I had to chase them all the way back to the parking lot, while shouting and trying to get their attention-to no avail. I even tried to flag down a cyclist who passed me, but my cries for help fell on deaf ears. She didn’t even look back! I did eventually catch up with my friends, who made sure I returned to my car in one piece.

Of course, being an INFJ “ideal seeker” means that chasing things isn’t just limited to the scope of my athletic pursuits. I’ve always chased one ambition or another since I was little. Whether it was being a professional seashell enthusiast/marine biology nerd or learning a new instrument, I naturally pushed myself toward both attainable and seemingly unattainable goals.

Chasing dreams is generally a good thing, because it gives you hope, and passion, and something to wake up for every day. Chasing people, on the other hand, is really bad for your morale. Not physically, like you’re trying to catch them running, but by comparing yourself to a person, or trying to get them to like you. Maybe even love you.

I spent a year and a half in high school trying to get a guy to like me. Even though I was shy, I would try to win him over with talent, wit and humor. At the end of our senior year, I even asked him to our prom with a note in his locker. He never responded. Sadly, my low morale from this experience carried over into college and beyond, with rejection after rejection. Guy friends never wanted to be more than friends. Eventually, I just gave up the pursuit, because there were dreams to chase, and those were entirely up to me.

Comparing yourself to other people is also a bad idea. Sadly, some spend a lifetime chasing a “perfect” body or power or position. We are all created as unique beings, with one-of-a-kind stories, tragedies and triumphs! I believe those stories are meant to help others through their tough times, if we are willing to share them.

So in conclusion, the people that love you for who you are, that are meant to be in your life, and that encourage you–they are the ones that matter.

But if they’re runners, and they can run faster than you, feel free to chase them, because you’ll only get better at running. And if you happen to know any single, male, 40-ish runners out there…I could use some training!

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