You will not find any photos in this post so enjoy the story, and you can imagine the pictures.
I run. I run for my health; I run to clear my head; I run to jump in puddles; I run to have fun with my family.
I DO NOT (or did not) run 5K races. That was until last weekend when I completed my first 5K. I was not fast, but I was not last either. I completed in 29.14 minutes. I was not "wasted" at the end; I felt great! So, why, since I have been running well...forever, why did it take until I was 32 to run my first 5K?
Competition: Unfortunately, or fortunately, I am fairly competitive. But even though I have this competitiveness inside of me, I hate competing. I ran track and field in high school (long time ago). I ran the 800, the 400 and the 4X400. I loved practice days, but I dredded meet days. I was sick to my stomach all day long. I was shaky with nerves; I had to use the restroom every 5 minutes on race days. 5K races never interested me because all my past nerves and insecurities came rising to the surface all too quickly.
Cost: Pay to run? Why would I do that? I know most of these races
are fundraisers, but why would I pay to run when I can run without
paying? And, here's the thing. We all run. We are a running family. We
do not run every day; we do not always run together, but we all run. And
race fees can add up very quickly even if just three of us are running
the 5K. The fun runs at the beginning are great, but my oldest did not
ever want to do the fun runs. She wanted to run the 5Ks. And she can do
it, and she runs more steadily and faster than I do. This summer lends
itself to me running these races alone. My oldest injured her knee last winter and cannot run on the road yet (or even run for any length of
time). My husband agreed to hang with the kiddos so I could run (what a
gem he is). The cost for one of us to run is much easier to swallow.
The morning of race day came too quickly, and I asked my family not to come watch. Not because I didn't want them there, but because I couldn't stomach having them there. You know the feeling in the pit of your stomach that prevents you from eating and causes your legs to feel like jello. Yes, this was me (at age 32) on race day. I couldn't fall asleep the night before. Once I did sleep, I had the craziest running dreams. I woke up way too early and almost called in sick. But I plowed through confronting my nerves. The elementary school bathrooms and I established a relationship that morning, but I didn't allow that to stop me.
Then we were all called to line up. I thought I was going to lose the banana I ate for breakfast. I stood there waiting for the "gun" to go off. And it didn't. A cute little 5th or 6th grader (after singing the National Anthem) said, "Go!" That was it? No freak out moment? No waiting for everyone to be ready? No false starts? No pressure?
What freedom! I was just running. I was running for my health, not to compete with all these other runners. I was running with a friend, and we were enjoying it (well except for maybe some of those small hills). I got into a rythm and felt strong.
So, I ran it. I did it. And I jumped up and down for the rest of the day proclaiming to the world, "I ran my first 5K!" I didn't care what "place" I came in. I didn't care that people passed me. I kept a steady pace and stayed on target with a time that was comfortable to me. I was not running to push myself to my limit; I was running to push myself to the next level. I will run another 5K in early June. Having this as a goal has kept me consistent in running at least 4 times a week. I like this. I like having the accountability to run.
Sometimes we all run in the field next to our house. Sometimes I run with one child in the baby jogger and three on bikes. Sometimes I run alone. Sometimes I run on the treadmill (although not my favorite). Sometimes I run with a friend. I like this culture. I like this "non-competitive running to be active" lifestyle. I like teaching my children through modeling it myself. And not just teaching them to be healthy and active but teaching them that they can overcome, that they can face their fears, their nerves, their insecurities and overcome!