Since I began running, this has been my flood of emotions. However, despite the roller coaster, in the last ten weeks, I've run four times per week without fail. According to what I've logged on Dailymile.com, I have covered 133 miles and have burned 112.23 doughnuts. Technically, I could say I've never eaten a doughnut in my life (of course, then I'd have to admit to the few extra glasses of red wine and Mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups I've enjoyed recently)!
My journey thus far reminds me of a tip given by my parents when I was in middle school. "The people you associate yourself with quickly define who you are and who you will become." It's a lesson that is even more poignant to me now than it was then. I joined Stroller Strides last October merely hoping to get into better shape. Little did I know, I was surrounding myself with inspirational women who weren't afraid of a challenge. When the topic of joining Running Club (with a race in mind) arose, I distinctly remember one of them saying, "I'll do it, if you do it." To which I responded, "I'm really not excited about running, and there is no part of me that wants to run a half marathon." Dare say I was a bit negative? But the truth was, there has always been a small part of me that wished I was a runner. So I signed up with the 5k race as my goal. And before I knew it, the runner's high began to kick in. I was proud of myself. Proud to be there, rather than on my couch.
We started out easy, running 60 seconds, walking 90 seconds for 20 minutes. Honestly, even that was a challenge at the time. But I showed up, despite the few days there was snow and ice on the ground, and the other days when it was pouring rain.
The weather conditions actually proved to be invigorating; I was doing something I would have called crazy just a month prior.
I've never been much of a team sports player. I prefer to challenge myself when no one else is watching or comparing. But Running Club has provided the perfect opportunity to push myself while building commoraderie. I have two buddies who consistently run with me, both beginners. But we've worked through the dread, we've motivated through the breathlessness and we've built pride through our accomplishments.
Six weeks into the program, we were still doing a run/walk mix, and that Saturday we were scheduled to run 2.5 miles straight with no stops. Anxious about our upcoming challenge, we even "celebrated" our last "walk period", savoring it with pride and a fair bit of apprehension. I remember that last run/walk day more than the actual 2.5 mile run. We were still in disbelief that we could do it, even though we had been able to follow the training schedule thus far. Two and a half miles sounded RIDICULOUS. And now, only three weeks later, we have completed a 6 mile run!
Needless to say, I skipped the 5k race and signed up for the 10k (6.2 miles).
All of this progress has not come without complication. I'm struggling with a fair amount of knee pain and a few other aches here and there. It's disappointing to put in so much effort, to resist inertia, to show up and then have set backs. But that is part of life, right? I might not appreciate the ups without a few downs along the way. And in the process, I'm becoming more educated. I'm learning that to be an athlete (dare I call myself that) requires maintenance. And that may be a blessing in disguise, because maintenance involves self awareness, honesty, knowledge and attention. It's not just about driving the car, it's about valuing it.
(Had to include a couple cute pics of my running partner... discovering the awesomeness of having her own personal music player.)
This weekend, on Mother's Day, I'll awake around 5am, drink water, eat oatmeal, prep, and drive to Everett, WA to run my first race. It will mark the beginning of what I hope will be my running career. Certainly an accomplishment, but I already know it's well within reach. It even sounds, dare I say it, easy, because I'm already looking forward to the next commitment. On June 25, I'll be participating in the Seattle Rock N' Roll, a half marathon (13.1 miles). Insert that list of words I mentioned at the beginning of this post, because I'll be feeling them all over again over the next two months!
"Your biggest challenge isn't someone else. It's the ache in your lungs and the burning in your legs, and the voice inside you that yells "CAN'T", but you don't listen. You just push harder. And then you hear the voice whisper "can". And you discover that the person you thought you were is no match for the one you really are."
(A quote from the Facebook group, I <3 to run)