Posted on July 11th, 2012 6 comments
I was not ready. I went anyway.
Originally, I enlisted a running buddy and we developed a pretty straightforward plan: do an eight week training program, run the race at the end of it. Unfortunately, due to several different factors including crutches, crises and unexpected out-of-town trips, neither of us was prepared to run. It was important to us to still complete the 5K, since we were participating long-distance in a tribute 5K in memory of our friends’ daughter, so my running buddy became my walking buddy.
Other than the Komen Race for the Cure several years ago, in which I bobbed down city streets in a river of thousands of pink-clad casual walkers, I’ve never participated in a 5K before. There were a few hundred participants in this one, and most of them were runners showing off lots of thigh muscle in die-hard runner clothing, fancy smartphone armbands around their biceps. And then there was me, wearing my race shirt (apparently most people don’t wear their race shirts to the race – who knew?) and baggy shorts. However, I’m pretty sure that once I pinned my race number onto the front, no one could tell the difference.
In addition to the awesomeness of an official bib number, the race started with a pistol shot in the air. (At least it sounded like a pistol. I was pretty far back in the crowd because I didn’t want to get trampled by the real runners, so I didn’t actually see it. But it’s nice to hear a gunshot in an urban area without feeling the need to duck and cover.) And there were real tables of people handing out water along the way, with empty cups scattered across the grass by the runners who were so dedicated that they did not have time to use the trash can. Hard core. And there was a nice person clocking us at the end of the first mile, which was amusing – nothing like official proof that you are not very fast.
We weren’t running, but we clipped along at a pretty good walking speed for most of the race, close to the front of the non-runner crowd. The race was two big loops around an urban park, which meant that halfway through, we got to watch people who were twice as fast as us cross the finish line. A few hundred feet into the second loop, we noticed that one of the police cars on race patrol was coasting at our heels. Apparently, most of the walkers had stopped after the first loop instead of doing the full 5K, and we were the last people in the race. The very…. last…. people.
Well… we may be newbies to this 5K thing, but we were certainly not about to be last-place newbies. So we started running. We ran past several people. We speed-walked past several more. And then we saw the orange cones marking the finish lines, and we ran the rest of the way. I’m sure it was humorous to the people at the line to see us almost-last-place folk carrying on like champions, cheering as we ran across, grasping each others’ hand victoriously in the air.
We felt honored to complete the race in celebration of the life of Samantha, and in support of our friends who will race this coming weekend. Still, I expected the 5K to feel a little disappointing and anti-climactic. After all, we’d failed to reach our goals. Instead, I found it inspiring and fun. I still don’t understand how people can get addicted to running, but I can see myself doing more 5Ks – and running all the way.
Posted on May 6th, 2012 3 comments
Today’s run was hard.
First, I psyched myself out. The training for today called for running two shorter intervals and two intervals that were twice as long as I’d run previously (three minutes – not very long at all, unless you happen to be a non-runner starting a running program). Also, on the advice of a more experienced runner, I decided to run outside today. I really struggled with pacing. Without the crutch of a mechanically-set treadmill, my body naturally matched the fast-paced tempo of my music. After my first short run interval, I was already feeling winded, so by the time I got to the first “long” run I really struggled.
I ran straight in one direction, crossed the street halfway through and came back on the other side of the street. I’ve never quit a training session on the treadmill, but there is comfort in knowing that if I had to, I could. As the blocks passed, I realized that if I collapsed into a puddle of quivering sweat in the middle of my run, it would be a long crawl home. On the plus side, the second half of my session was easier since I was physically coming closer and closer to the finish.
At one point during a running interval, I approached a corner at the same time as a little blonde girl on a bike. She was on the sidewalk and her dad was riding next to her in the street. I slowed down and jogged in place to let her pass (which, by the way, seems a very runner-like thing to do, but I couldn’t really think about that because I was busy willing my legs to keep moving). Instead of passing, she stopped directly in my path, put her foot down and gave me an open-mouthed smile, her tongue pressing at the back of her top teeth. Her dad laughed apologetically as I circled around her and kept going.
After I’d passed them, it all clicked –the absence of training wheels, her dad trailing along, the back-and-forth shimmy of the handlebars as she stopped. This is a kid who had just learned to ride. She has worked and wobbled and now, she is a bike rider.
I’m realizing I need to draw a distinction between what I have done and what I am able to do. I got intimidated by the fact that this run was twice as long as I’d previously run, but I was capable of running it. It was double my previous accomplishments, but it wasn’t double my capabilities. My life is not static like a dusty record board etched with names on a gym wall. In slow, small ways, my abilities increase.
She rides a bike.
And I run.
Posted on April 27th, 2012 2 comments
Samantha was born beautiful and healthy on March 10, 2011. At six weeks old, she was diagnosed with Group B strep. She passed away at four months old. There is so much more to say about Samantha, but no one could say it better than her family. Samantha’s mom, Stephanie, has chronicled their story with honesty and poignancy on her personal blog, Blooming Joy, and Samantha’s CaringBridge page (along with some entries from Samantha’s dad Travis and her Aunt Allison).
Travis and Stephanie will tell you that they are not brave and strong, and that they have gotten through this only by the grace of a faithful God. I believe that. From my perspective, our faithful God equipped them to be extremely brave and even heroic – during Samantha’s illness, death, and after. They parented her well when she was healthy. They parented her well when she was dying. And now, when Samantha’s free of pain, they continue to be amazing parents. They treasure the time they had with her. They’ve gone back to bring donations to the places that helped them so much during Samantha’s illness. They honor her life. They look forward to a reunion someday.
They are organizing a 5K to celebrate the life of Samantha. This is a spiritual journey as well as a physical one. They’re using the program Run for God, which is a Christian running program designed to strengthen people’s faiths as well as their bodies. Money raised from the 5K will go to a sponsorship in Samantha’s name at Faith Lutheran School.
While I’m nowhere near Texas, my running buddy and I are running in support of Travis and Stephanie and in honor of Samantha.
Want to run too?
Posted on April 25th, 2012 8 comments
I’m running a 5K.
I’m not exactly sure how it happened. Those of you who’ve known me awhile know that my lack of athleticism borders on legendary. But a couple friends have mentioned 5K training programs for non-runners, and it piqued my curiosity. I downloaded an app to check it out, mentioned it to my husband, and recruited my pal to be my running buddy all before I was really sure I wanted to do it. I’ve never even considered running a 5K before, but here I am. (I plan to share more about the inspiration for my run in an upcoming post, so stay tuned.)
So… I am 5K training. I’ve been going to the Y for several months now, but mostly, I do brisk walking on the treadmill. (I tried an aqua fitness class which could be a blog post in itself – apparently aqua fitness classes appeal to very quirky people, and the fact that I am one of them is not lost on me.) I love the treadmill, actually, but it feels pretty pointless. Sometimes, I try to switch it up a little, so I put on Melissa Ethridge’s “I Run for Life” and begun to run. It is a very dramatic and purposeful and stirring song, and I run very dramatically and purposefully until two minutes in, when I sputter to a walking pace, out of breath. The thought of running an entire capital K seems impossible right now, let alone 5 of them.
I am using a program called Couch to 5K, in nifty app form. The first workout was hard, but not too hard. And the next two workouts were just a little less hard. I’m looking forward to getting in shape, and I’ve already convinced myself that I can see runner’s muscle in my calves and thighs. But mostly, I am sold on all the perks of 5K training. The program recommends three work days a week with rest days in between. Those days when I don’t go to the gym aren’t lazy days anymore. They are rest days. I have to make sure my body recovers in between workouts. It’s very athletic of me, you see. And I only jog for a short time before going back to walking – not because I’m out-of-shape, but because I am interval-training.
This morning, I went to the Y at 7:30am. At 7:30am, all the work people are off to work, but the casual-workout folks aren’t out of bed yet, so it’s just me and a bunch of buff old guys. I walked in and thought to myself, “Hello, old guys. How are you feeling this morning? I am feeling buff with all this training and athleticism.” I hopped on my treadmill and did very well until the last run interval, when the plastic book-holder that someone had left on my treadmill clattered to the floor. I thought one of them might shout “Imposter!” and recognize me as the clutzy gal who made a fool of herself a few months ago, but instead a nice gentleman picked it up and handed it back to me. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I just held it awkwardly while I finished my run. But, I finished.
All sixty seconds of it.
Gotta start somewhere, right?