Updated: Time: 35:03 / Pace: 11:17
Before I left for DC I prepared a post describing how I felt (would feel) after the race. I had to ditch that post because there was no way that I could accurately capture how I felt at the starting line and the finish line and the moments that immediately followed. I still don’t know if I can but I’m going to give it a shot.
Twenty-four hours ago, at 6:30 a.m., I was walking toward the National Mall in our nation’s capitol preparing to join the other 40,000 participants in the Susan G. Komen 5k Race for the Cure. Some of the participants were there in memory of someone they lost, some were running/walking for someone who was still fighting the fight and some were survivors of this horrible disease. Me? I was there to run a 5k because I had something to prove to myself. I understand the overarching reason for this gathering. I raised money for the cause and , by the way, 75% of the money raised will stay local to help those in need. So, it’s not like I ran and didn’t give a sh*t.
Anyway, I’d just like to say that this is absolutely the coolest thing that I have ever done. The coolest. This is one time that I can remember tackling something hard, sticking with it and completing it. Completing it all the way to the end. You see, in my lifetime I have a history of leaving things that are just too difficult: bad marriages, jobs, churches, etc. I’m sad to say that it’s a pretty long list. I’m not wired to stick. I’m wired to leave. Not a trait that I am proud of.
The thing is, I like to be comfortable. I like to smile and I like to feel good. Difficult things are not usually part of being comfortable.
So why did I run this race? For two reasons: someone told me that I could and I foolishly believed them. That’s it. A friend of mine casually suggested that I run the race with her. I said I couldn’t and she said I could. After all, I was already running three miles on the treadmill, wasn’t I? Why yes, yes I was.
So, I took my self-confident azz home and logged on to the SGK website and signed up to be part of the Fit and Fabulous Team and announced to anyone that would listen that I was going to run a 5k.
I did all this before I ran my first step outside. In case you didn’t know … running on a treadmill will not prepare you to run an outdoor race. Running on the treadmill convinced me that I could run a race but I soon discovered I had a lot of work to do.
I documented some of the training here but as it became more difficult (not easier) I had to basically shut down the blog because I just couldn’t concentrate on anything else except running. I downloaded the Couch-to-5k (C25K) program to my blackberry and I was running at least three times a week outside. Rain or shine. Whether I felt like it or not. There was no way that I was not going to finish this race. I wasn’t so much concerned with time as I was with running the entire three miles. No walk breaks. I had to start running and finish running.
Difficult? Uh yes, it was difficult. Did I think about quitting? Not once. I had something to prove. Not to anyone else. But to myself. I needed to do this and quitting was not an option. No one would have thought any less of me but I would have felt awful. More than awful. So I continued training.
As the weeks wore on and the temperature began to rise, I switched my runs to the mornings. Each week I was adding distance to my runs and I was feeling really good about myself. Let me rephrase: mentally, I was feeling really good; physically, I felt my body wearing down. I’m not a young woman and each mile reminded me of that. Running is hard on the knees and hard on the back. It’s funny, I was never even aware of my knees until I started running. On the upside, my legs look great and my butt has never been higher or tighter. Yeah, so there’s that.
The C25K program is 9 weeks long. During this time my father died and I lost a week of training. So, I trained for a solid two months and by Race Day I had successfully run three miles twice -- no stopping. It was a great feeling. I was ready.
The original plan was for my daughter to accompany me to cheer me on. Also a blogging buddy of mine said she would fly in as well. As luck would have it, my daughter ended up having to work and my buddy experienced airline challenges and couldn’t make the trip. I had the members of my team but for the most part I was alone. I mean, half of my team members walked the race and the other half chose to start with the 12-minute milers while I ran with the 10-minute milers. I get that running is a solitary sport but I really had to fight the urge to feel sorry for myself. Another great accomplishment and I was experiencing it alone.
The days leading up to Race Day and the day itself were very emotional. I can’t even explain it. I would find myself, sitting at my desk tearing up whenever I would think about the race. Crazy. When I met up with my team captain, she hugged me and all I could do was cry. She was so cool though. She talked me through it as she put on my race bib. She understood as she has gone through the exact same thing. I was about to experience the result of 8 weeks of really hard work. I didn’t quit. I didn’t walk away. I stuck. I changed my wiring. I was about to do something that I had never done before.
The race itself was interesting. When you are used to running alone on an empty track it’s a little challenging to be surrounded by so many people. People who are walking, people who are stopping right in front of you … I had to swerve and slow down and speed up … it was getting to be a pain. Each time I would choose someone in front of me as a pacer … they would decide it was time for them to walk. Then I’d have to pass them and choose someone else. Sometime during the race I heard someone behind me say, “We’re almost half way there.” Almost …. Half …. Way …. There??? What the hell, dude. Almost half way? I had to tune these jokers out and concentrate on my music because “almost half way” is not what I needed to hear. Finally, when I saw the 2-mile marker I smiled. Just like at home, I said to myself, “You finished two, you can do one more.” I kept going and kept going and the finish line was in my sight. I was really going to do the damn thing.
And I did.
I crossed the finish line and I heard the volunteers on the sidelines screaming and shouting and cheering. It was amazing. I was overwhelmed but there were no more tears. Just a huge sense of relief and accomplishment. I sent a text to my mom, kids, sister and best friend to let them know that I had finished. Yes, I posted it on FB as well. The “congratulations” began to pour in. My daughter told me before I left how proud she was of me and she indicated the same afterward. My son was glad that I didn’t come in last.
I don’t have my official time yet. I’ve been camped out on the website waiting for the results. I’ll update this post as soon as I can. I didn’t plan on doing another 5k. Once was really enough. But depending on my time, I may have to. The original goal was to do it in less than 30 minutes. Then I changed it to 30 minutes or less … at the end I just wanted to run the entire time. Truth be told, I really want to do a sub-30 race. Also, my sister will be running a race of her own and I sort of promised that I’d run with her. And I am a woman of my word.
Today I feel good. Achy and sore but good. I’m wondering what is next. I’ve taken a huge step this weekend by doing the hard thing. I was free at any time to quit and walk away. I could have walked during the run and no one would have been the wiser. Even during the training, I could have walked. Who would’ve known, after all? Me. That’s who. So, what’s next? I don’t know right now but I’ve gotta tell you, I’m feeling pretty strong right now. Invincible even. I can do the hard things and I can be successful. I may not know what the next thing will be, but I’m ready for it. Bring it on.