It’s hard to explain how important this race was for me. And while this post was meant to be about “race day” it’s slowly turned into my “running story”. So sit back, relax, and make yourself comfortable if you’re going to read through this one.
Maybe it was my total lack of physical activity during my youth… I had something to prove to myself.
Maybe it was the voice in my head… Repeating comments from others that I had come to accept as truth. “You don’t run.” “You’re a couch potato.” “You’re not athletic.” “You’re so tiny, why work out?” “Don’t work out, you will disappear.”
My brain was wired to say “I can’t.”
But among many things I have learned this past year, one of them was the game changer for me. I learned that I could change ANYTHING in my life if I believed in myself. This cliché mumbo jumbo had finally clicked, and it was true. The only person keeping me from a healthier lifestyle, was myself.
Eating better, was my choice. Switching to a vegetarian diet, was my choice. Using the car less and walking/biking more, was my choice. Getting out the door for a work out, was my choice. Anything other than “I don’t want to…” was simply an excuse. Plain and simple, if I wanted to get in better shape and live a healthier life, I had to stop making excuses and just get out there.
All I had to do, was make that choice.
I was lucky to meet a few moms who served as inspiration. And while I didn’t know it then, my first few “Mommy and Me” work outs with Amy at Stay Fit Studio would plant a seed in my head. An idea that maybe I could be more athletic. That maybe if I wanted it, if I worked towards it, if I tried enough, maybe I could do these things that my brain was so convinced I could not.
And then Luna came along… Ah Luna… My little nut. Luna is an almost 2 year old Siberian Husky whom we adopted about 6 months ago. And from day 1 in our home, she had way too much energy. She would pace in the hall. Harass Bongo to play with her constantly. Howl and cry for attention and playtime. And with no yard (at least not a fenced in one) her only outlet was a walk. A long, long walk. Every morning and evening.
After a couple of months of walking, I was starting to feel a difference in how I felt about myself. It wasn’t much, but 30-45 minute walks once or twice a day started to make me feel more… well… fit. I was less tired during the day, felt more comfortable being outside walking for longer periods of time without wanting to sit or needing a break.
And then I had this crazy thought… Why don’t I just run… Just a tiny little jog from here to that stop sign over there, just a few yards away… And so I did, and it felt good. So good, I did it again the next day… Only, I went a little further the next time, and the next, and the next.
And that’s how it all started.
Soon, I set my eyes on a 5K to prove my progress. I ran it and shocked myself by making a faster time than expected. Not only that, but my goal had been to finish, so I wasn’t exactly killing myself either. So you can imagine that I felt like a super woman. I ran a 5k and it wasn’t even that hard.
If I could do this much in a few months, how much further could I take this? Could I lower my times even further? Could I run even further?
The answer to both those questions were YES!
YES, you can improve your times with practice.
YES, you can run further with practice.
And so I set my eyes on something a bit more substantial. A half marathon seemed like reaching too far, so I found my race, the 7 Mile Bridge Run. A race just a little longer than a 10K.
From the day I signed up, it was ON. I was not just running for fun/fitness, I was training. Running anywhere from 3-5 times a week.
Slowly my short 1.5 mile runs faded away and morphed into 3 mile runs. My longer 2-3 mile runs turned into 4-5 mile runs.
And then… race day… I knew I could do it, but I hadn’t actually DONE it yet. My longest practice run had only been 6 miles. But I was ready to prove myself, ready to show myself that I could do whatever I set my mind to do. And that that voice in my head that always creeped in during practice runs “I’m too tired”, “it’s too hot” ,”I can’t finish” was lying.
Because that’s all this all is. A mind game. A struggle for control. Do I control this body, or does this body control me. I was determined to prove the first.
You can imagine the how my heart sank and the tears flowed when I arrived to the race start point, 1.5 hours away from my house, and I had left my ID at home. I couldn’t pick up my race number. That’s right, my big race day, and I had forgotten the one thing I actually needed to be able to race.
My husband, who was also running, suggested we simply go home and that “it was just a race” and “not a big deal”. But he didn’t understand that this was a big deal. This was my race. My moment to prove that I could do this thing that I had been training and working for… for months.
So with a heavy heart filled with disappointment and anger (for being so careless!) I picked myself up and told him I was still running the race. No number. No medal. No nothing. I would run it for my self, for my pride.
My wonderful husband offered to run by my side, so we could at least symbolically share his number. Somehow this calmed my nerves. I was still going to do it. I was still going to run. And I was not going to let some random mistake keep me from saying “I did it!”.
As the registration area emptied, my husband decided to try one last time to see if he could sway some soft hearted volunteer into giving us my number.
And somehow, he did. As he huddled with a few volunteers… I could see them all nodding their heads. I approached them and they just smiled and winked and told me not to tell anyone (whoops?). I don’t think I could have ever expressed how grateful I was to those volunteers. I knew they broke the rules and made an exception, but it meant the world to me. Thank goodness for compassion!
And so… that’s it!
I happily stood at the start line with my friends who had also been working hard to participate in this race. I ran smoothly for the first couple of miles feeling amazing. Ran up and down the big hill wondering when that 4th mile marker would ever come around. I dragged myself through mile 5 and 6 knowing that I was more than half way done. And just when that voice started to get louder “You’re too tired”, “You might be dehydrated”, “What if you faint?”, “You can’t”, “Walk”… I knew I had to take back that control.
Keep going, just a bit further, you’re almost done, you CAN do this.
And I did.
That voice inside my head, has been lying all these years.