Sunday, July 17, 2011

It Wasn't THAT Bad

Yesterday, Laura and I completed our very first 5K together.  We agreed to just finish, and stayed pretty close together for the duration of the run.  It was such a happy feeling to run across the finish line next to her.

We did it!

When she randomly asked if anyone wanted to run with her, a part of me screamed "NOOOOO!!!!!" I haven't had a regular workout routine. . . ever.  And I have never been a runner.  I'm only going to run if I'm being chased by a wild animal or if it's raining on my head and I've got to look decent.  I don't even like to get sweaty, let alone work out.  Every time I think about working out in a gym or outside with bugs, and sweat, and heat I get the willies.

But there was a small part of me that wanted to see if I could actually do it.  To rediscover that younger and energetic girl who is slipping through my fingers as the years fly by.  I'm not getting any younger, and I certainly didn't want to look back and regret not trying.

I started the Couch to 5K program around the second week in May.  That means that with the exception of the week we were at Disney, I have only been running every other day (or 3 times a week) for about 9 weeks in preparation for this 5K.  I certainly wasn't very fast at the beginning--and I'm still not a speed demon by any stretch of the imagination now.  I was extremely winded after the first run--and that was running only about a minute in each interval.  I remember thinking there was NO WAY I was going to complete this event.  I could barely run one minute, let alone 3.1 miles!

But, I kept at it and each day it got a little easier.  My legs have been perpetually sore for the past 2 months and there are many days I wanted to just stop and tell Laura I couldn't do it.

I remember around the 3rd week I was running and I was so frustrated and hot and tired and sweaty and ticked off and I was ready to throw in the towel.  I was over it and I wanted to turn around and go back home.  Suddenly, one of the songs on my iPod reminded me of Jill.  I thought about her and her inability to walk.  I thought about how I was taking my ability to easily walk and run for granted, and how she would have done anything for full use of her body.  I thought about the blessing of having a body that worked well and that I needed to take advantage of that gift.  Thoughts like that kept pushing me through to the end of each run:  That I was doing it for myself, that I was doing it for my kids, that I was doing it in memory of my dear friend.

My lerve, Christacular, was also very supportive of me during these past two months.  He went running with me a few times and has helped get the girls to bed so I could get my run in before it was dark out.  Unfortunately, he needed to wear his children's minister's hat the day of the race to decorate the church for our upcoming VBS.  It was fine, and while I wish he could have been there, I knew I had his support.

As the days neared for the the race, I started to get a little nervous, but I kept pushing the thoughts out of my mind.  I was determined that I was going to make it across that finish line.  My goal was to finish (and not to puke).

The night before the race, Laura graciously invited me to stay with her family in Emerald Isle so I wouldn't have to drive so far in the morning.  Unfortunately, I tossed and turned all night long and only got about 3 hours of sleep.  I was so tired when my alarm went off at 6am!

We dressed and headed over to the Beaufort waterfront for the race.  We arrived around 7, parked, and waited for our race (which started at 8am).  I was jittery when we got there.  There were a lot of "runner type" folks--with long, lean legs and short shorts and red leg warmer type socks. I felt really out of place with my non-long, non-lean legs and only a clip for my iPod (instead of a fancy arm band).  I pinned my number to my shirt and tried to work off my stiffness in my legs before the run.  However, the crowd had a happy energy to it--people were clapping and cheering for each other.  It was a really encouraging crowd and just a fun place to be.

When we started running it was a mass jumble of people.  Between my iPod doing that crazy shuffle because it was shaking (stupid update!) and the crowd of people it was hard to find my happy pace because I wasn't focused on anything.  My breathing got all crazy and I realized I was just all over the place.  But, once the crowd thinner I found my pace and just went to it.

It was actually sort of fun and a beautiful day.  And, if you've ever been on the historic waterfront, you know it was a beautiful place for a run.  The homeowners along the street were in their yards or on their porches cheering us on.  Several of them even turned on their sprinklers so we could run through.  I really had a ball and was glad I followed through with it when it was all said and done.

I am really glad Laura invited me to do this with her--it was cool to have a novice to do this with.  I didn't really want to talk about it much with other people.  The last thing I wanted were people giving me tips on how to increase my speed or share their stories.  I needed to work through this battle on my own--the battle of mind over matter.  The battle of sticking to a plan and seeing it through.  The battle of celebrating the body type I was given instead of chasing one that doesn't belong to me.

I also realized early on that it was a little discouraging when people found out I was running a 5K and they looked at me and said, "Really???"  It really made me question myself and how others view me.  It was easier to just keep it to myself, and some family and friends.  Besides, it's sort of nice to have something that I do just for myself.  I'm not in competition with anyone, I'm not trying to outrun anyone.  When I'm running I go into my own little world and I'm able to take care of myself.  I plan to continue running and to work on increasing my speed and distance.

In regards to weight, I didn't weigh myself before I started and I haven't weighed myself since.  I do not believe in measuring my emotional well-being by a number.  If my clothes fit, if I feel good, if I feel healthy, and the doctor isn't fussing at me, then I'm doing fine.  I can tell my legs are less chubby and more defined.  I don't feel as self-conscious in my work out clothes, and I like being able to exert myself for longer periods of time without getting too tired.  I have more energy during the day and I sleep better on nights that I run.

Would I do it again?  Sure.  I'm hoping to run this race again next year with Laura (and Aaron, who agreed to run it with us next year!) and maybe catch a few in between now and then.

This girl is a runner.  

Who knew???

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