Today I ran my first 5k. So often people say “first, and last, 5k”, but after today I am decidedly hooked.
Growing up I was the kid who walked the mile during the Presidential Fitness Test (which, to this day, I despise). Things changed a little when I started playing volleyball in 8th grade, but I still wasn’t terribly interested in running. I remember running the mile during volleyball, being very nearly last (okay, probably last), and having one of the girls who’d already finished cheer me on. For some reason I hated that, and it made me think even less of running. I used every excuse: it’s hard on my knees, it’s hard on my lungs, I have bad joints. All of those excuses are, in some ways, based on fact. I have crap-ass lungs and joints and always have. But here’s the catch… Running helps, if done properly.
About a year ago, for some weird reason, I got a wild hair and went out and bought a pair of running shoes on clearance from DSW. They were a little bit too snug, but I made them work. I ran for a few months, nearly every morning, until I got a cold, or it got cold, or I decided I was sick of waking up at 6am. I’m not really sure what my reason for stopping was, and it’s really neither here nor there anymore. A friend of mine told me about the Couch to 5k podcast, and I ran it for a couple weeks before I finally gave up.
Fast forward to March. I finally realized that I had gained way too much weight over the last two years, and needed to do something about it. I’m not willing to deprive myself of food, though I know I definitely need to watch my snacking. I was willing, I decided, to move my fat ass around a little more. So, I started researching 5ks that were just slightly beyond the Couch to 5k program length, settled on the Independence Day Races, dusted off my running gear and started out.
This time, instead of running every morning, I broke it into a manageable schedule that I was able to keep up pretty well until the last couple weeks when my work schedule got blown to hell. I trembled with fear every time Robert Ullrey said we’d start running an interval that seemed scary–5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes. I thought this man was crazy. But then I did it, and I lived. I lived through every single one, and only gave up and limped home on one run after my IT band decided it had absolutely positively had enough. I knew better than to push myself further than my body was able to go.
There were a few times I allowed myself to walk when I was supposed to run, but I knew it was almost certainly mental weakness instead of physical weakness. Today, however, I refused to stop running. I refused to stop running when other runners around me started walking. I refused to stop running when my lungs burned a little. I pushed through, and after the 2 mile mark I knew there was absolutely no reason I should walk at all. I ran slowly. I was the tortoise. Yes, some of the runners that walked actually finished before me. Yes, some of the people who ran the 10k did so before I finished my 5k. But it didn’t matter. I finished and I didn’t walk. That was my goal.
You may have noticed that at the top of my blog is a link to Run: For Your Life. It’s a stupid little graphic I made up with the intentions of having a QRCode lead to it (a failed Iron Craft project). It still may, who knows. I’m not entirely sure what my plans are for that page yet, but for now it stands for how I feel. I will try to run for the rest of my life. As an investment in my life. As a dedication to not spending my entire free time sitting on the couch watching Netflix. For at least 3 hours a week I will be active. And I will keep improving, because there’s no where to go but up.