Introducing On the Run with The Checkout Girl

I’ve decided to train for this year’s Richmond Marathon, and I’m taking you with me.

You know how in elementary school there’s that chubby, slow kid who’s always picked last for every team sport and is always beaned out first when that sport is dodgeball and you feel bad for him because of course you do, after all you’re not a monster and you even give canned goods to the food drive that aren’t just the disgusting things you want to keep your mom from forcing you to eat because, well, because you care about your fellow human beings just that much?

Well, I’m that kid’s larger, less-coordinated sister. At least, I had always considered myself to be. Then, earlier this year, I took up running. Slowly, at first. And slowly, still, for that matter.

When I ran my first 5k last month, I was nervously waiting at the starting line next to a really lovely woman, with whom I was having a wonderful conversation. The gun sounded, and I explained to her that she didn’t have to run with me, as I was really slow. She told me that, due to a knee injury, she also needed an easy pace, and it wouldn’t bother her at all. Well, cut to halfway through the run and the woman was still next to me, keeping perfect pace, BY WALKING. “It’s a power walk,” she assured me, kindly. But it didn’t bother me one bit. I laughed and told her that it was alright, my tortoise-like pace was the key to the fact that I could run for practically ever.

For practically ever. That thought stuck with me. And as I was slow running up a big hill, which was inexplicably located smack dab in the middle of a 3.1 mile “fun run,” the still really lovely woman, still walking next to me, exclaimed “Look! You’re the only one running up this thing! Good for you!” I looked around, noticing that I wasn’t passing anyone, including the woman with the stroller who was, well, strolling in front of me, but that, indeed, I was the only one running. I smiled and told myself that, hey man, pace wasn’t my thing. You don’t rush an amazing journey just so you can get to the end. And that’s what every run is for me–an amazing journey. But that also lead me to wonder what, exactly, “for practically ever” entailed.

Well, I’m going to find out. It may not be “for practically ever,” but I have decided to train for this year’s Richmond Marathon. As of today, the little countdown widget on their website says I have about 84 days to figure out how to run 26.2 miles without instantly dropping dead from exhaustion like the very first marathoner, who was one heck of a dedicated messenger.

And I’m taking you with me. From now until the race on November 10th, while I work out how to safely and sanely run farther in one day than I commute to work in a month, I’ll be keeping a weekly running journal, here on RVANews. I’ll share the trials, tribulations, and black toenails of a regular person training to run a distance, heretofore only conquered by Olympic athlete, superheroes, and, you know, runners.

Now, I should say that I’ve been running like a mad woman, one who needs to put a few miles between herself and her problems, four days a week since March. So I’m a noob, but not so much of a noob that I don’t realize this will be a challenge. Up to this point, my longest long run, which I do once a week, has been just shy of 15 miles. So, while me and my badass 14-minute miles, of which I’m exceedingly proud, are more than halfway there, I’m totally aware that there’s a humongo difference between running for nearly three and a half hours and running for nearly seven hours.

I guess it makes sense, then, that I’m a little scared. As a girl who had only experienced athletic activities through a lens of abject humiliation, including a brief stint as a chubby, bumbling softball shortstop; a failed, embarrassing cheerleader tryout;1 or entire shifts spent on the Stairmaster because good enough was never good enough; I want to conquer this thing. But I’m determined to do it without all of that baggage weighing me down–there’s no way I can carry that load for nearly seven hours.

I have, more than once in my life, been referred to as tenacious, and I’m counting on that tenacity. I really, really believe I can do this thing, which has been on my life list since 2010 but never shared with anyone except the people I am very closest to and, even then, in a joking manner. While failure is embarrassing, what’s worse is never trying at all, and I’m willing to try in front of the whole internet to prove that you can do the secret things on your life list. The things you hold close to your heart so as not to accidentally reveal them to another. Yes, you can. And so can I.

So, I hope you’ll join me on my quest to transform from regular old boring me, to regular old boring me who talks entirely too much about running2 and entirely not enough about important things like Real Housewives, because who can stay up that late when you have to be up at 4:00am. FOR RUNNING.

And, you know what? I can’t do this alone. I’m going to need some cheerleaders. So, are you with me? I promise not to show you my toenails–not unless you ask, I mean. After all, I’m not a monster.

Now, let’s do this thing.

— ∮∮∮ —


  1. 11 out of 12 girls were chosen, and I recevied an insincere apology from the coach claiming “Sorry, we need an odd number of girls. Um, for stunts. Or whatever.” 
  2. I’ve created a facebook page about my running exploits and how you can join me. Like Slow Running Revolution for more info. 
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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

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