When I was about five years old, my dad bought an orange Chevy Corvette.  It had a tan interior, bucket seats, and a kickin stereo, from which Pink Floyd flowed often.   It was mighty fancy for our neck of the woods, but it wasn’t the car that fascinated me – it was what happened when I was driving around with my dad that got me hooked on being a passenger.

Now, maybe this didn’t happen everywhere, but in Cincinnati, Ohio, when you drove around in a Corvette, you were part of an immediate fraternity.  When we passed other Corvettes on the road, their drivers waved at my dad.  (But really, come on, they were totally waiving at me, the tow-headed 8 year old in the front seat, waving back like a maniac.)  At the corner of Werk Road and Westbourne, as if it were yesterday, I remember idling, and my dad, cool as a cucumber, hands resting lightly on the wheel, opening a palm and nodding.  It was a secret club.  (One full of men with mid-life crises – sorry, Dad! – but still, I digress).    And while I was in the car, I wasn’t quite in the club.   But man, did it look cool.

Cut to 2009.  Yesterday, I’m running down the Lakefront Path in Chicago. It’s beautiful out – 55 degrees and sunny –  and I’m showing off my fabulous figure in a tank top and shorts (well, that may be overstating the truth slightly).  I’m running with a good friend of mine, and neither of us is teeny tiny.  As we head South, we start seeing pairs of runners – all of them smiling, all of them women, all of them just a bit bigger, too, than your average bear.  But what I notice most is that we’re all doing a silent appraisal as we approach, noting another Plus Runner – and giving each other the wave! 

At first, I thought it was just because we looked so friendly.  Then I realized – nope – it’s because we’re our own fraternity – The Big Girl’s Running Club.  They were just as surprised to see us as we were to see them – and yet, there we all were, giving each other a “nice job” or a “way to go” for our average Saturday run.   To be frank, they totally caught me by surprise – because the wave, the smile, the “good job” – is  NOT a part of the “normal” running community – at least, not in the same way.  (I know because I used to smile, and say hello, to EVERYONE on the path, until my friend finally said to me “you get so mad when they don’t say hi back, just stop it already!”) 

No, this group was about our own Corvette society – except, in this scenario, the Corvette was our possession of a Big Girl body, running our way along the path.   And just like that, I realized we are our own sorority (of sorts).  We take pride in ourselves, and we’re doing something incredibly cool with what we’ve been given.  And we acknowledge other members of the pack – with a smile, a nod, or a wave…

So next time you’re on the path, keep a look out for the Big Girls Running Club.  You may find you can create your own secret society all on your own.   Just look for the smile, nod, and the wave – you can leave the car behind….

See you on the path….

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