I’m a runner.
Well, not quite yet, but I’m getting there.
I had an item on my 35 before 35 list that had carried over from the previous year’s list: run a 5K. I can’t remember exactly why I chose this but it was there and had a good chance of sticking around for yet another year. Thankfully, I have many runner friends, and one in particular who decided he was going to help me to get this goal accomplished.
He found us a 4 mile run through New York Road Runners and I signed up. Yes, this was more than the 5K I had in mind, but I didn’t think much of it. I got some new Nikes and joined a gym to begin training. My goal was to run the entire 4 miles… no walking, no stopping. A grand feat considering the last time I ran was to chase a kid who stole my phone.
Unfortunately, right after I signed up, the weather turned ugly. And stayed ugly. I was not motivated to leave the house unless absolutely necessary – and running, in my book, was not necessary.
The run was quickly approaching and I wasn’t ready. I kept hearing (from others and from my internal monologue) that it was “just 4 miles” and that it “wasn’t a big deal.” And that was keeping me motivated, for the most part. Until I went to pick up my Run for the Parks t-shirt and saw this:
I didn’t know I had to wear a bib for this!!! Again, it was just 4 miles. But somehow this made it feel like a bigger deal. It was real. And it was fast approaching.
The night before the race (yes, this is what I started calling it after the whole bib thing), I went home early and attempted to get a good night’s rest. Which I did. For the most part. I was excited to run but I was nervous. People kept telling me not to be too hard on myself or feel let down if I had to walk or even stop. I kept telling myself that this was my first time and if I enjoyed it enough there would be more. This took the pressure off a bit.
I got up bright and early and met my friend at the corrals. I was obviously in one of the last corrals because I’m slow as balls, but I told my friend that he definitely didn’t have to keep pace with me (he’s a REAL runner and I didn’t want to hinder his personal goals). And 10 minutes after the fast people up front had crossed the start, I was on my way.
It was a chilly but gorgeous morning in Central Park and as I started the first mile I was encouraged by the scenery. The Guggenheim to the right, the Reservoir to the left. Oh, and look! it’s the North Meadow softball fields where I spend every Saturday from April to August. I was also encouraged by the people. Not only were volunteers cheering us along the route, but the pack of people running together felt like a community in a way I wasn’t expecting.
Something in me just kept going. I am quite stubborn (or strong-willed if you would like to put a positive spin on it) and despite the advice about not being too hard on myself, I did have a goal in mind. My body didn’t hurt too bad and I was keeping my breathing under control. Pretty soon I was another mile down… and then another… and then I was in the home stretch. I had been keeping a steady pace the whole time, but then Britney Spears’s “Work Bitch” came on in my earbuds and I could’t hold back- I was either going to stop on the spot and break it down club-style, or run like I was on fire. I picked up the pace and managed to cross the finish line at 46:26 with a pace of 11:37 per mile. Not the best, but I’m proud of myself.
I set a goal to run a 5K and I ended up running a longer race, AND managed to do it without stopping. Even better than that, I’m motivated to keep going. I have signed up for a 10K in June and I’d love to do a half marathon before the year ends. I have even been going for runs on my own… like, for fun and exercise. Whaaaa? Looks like I definitely drank the runner Kool-Aid.
Blog song title: “Work Bitch” by Britney Spears (seriously, put this jam on your workout/running mix… guaranteed motivator)
Photo credit: Yours Truly