This past Saturday a group of women “Set the Pace” . I was one of them. I ran 10km.
Let’s back up to the first week of April. What started out as a nice little bbq at my house, ended with a commitment to run in a 10km charity race. How did this happen? I will blame it on a couple of choice refreshments I enjoyed that evening and my friend Rebecca’s encouragement. She also lured me in by promising me firemen giving out water and a chocolate station at the end (and she was telling the truth)!!
I have always wanted to be able to run. Always. Around two and a half years ago I decided that I was going to start living a healthy lifestyle. I didn’t make any drastic changes at once. I’ve tried that before and it didn’t work for me. Instead, I made little manageable changes each week. I loved to go on power walks outside and during the winter I bought a treadmill (aka dreadmill) to keep my fitness and weight loss goals in check. Even though I had considered myself fairly active, I could barely run 2 minutes without a need for a lengthy break. Last summer I decided to try the “Couch to 5k” program. I had a great running buddy and we met up a couple of times a week on an outdoor track to build up my endurance. But then the cold weather rolled in and I rolled my down duvet up to my ears and snuggled up for the winter.
In February of this year, I knew I needed to make a change. What I was doing just wasn’t working for me and I didn’t want to just throw away all my past efforts. I joined a gym. I walk around 5km to the gym and then I work out for about 1hr 15min. In April I was going through a bit of a slump at the gym and Rebecca’s 10km run suggestion was exactly what I needed to kick up the motivation. I started the running program again and was surprising myself every week with how much longer I could run. I registered for the race mid-June and almost immediately stopped training. There always seemed to be an excuse but I knew the real reason why: my goal to run 10km seemed like way too much. I said several times that I was going to bump myself down to a 5km run because I already knew I could do it. But where’s the challenge in that?
There will always be an excuse not to do something. We never have enough time or money, we aren’t in good enough shape, etc. There will always be something. We would never say these things to our friends nor let our friends use any of these excuses to prevent them from reaching their goals. Instead we would be encouraging them. So why are we so hard on ourselves?
After a 7-week hiatus from the gym, I had 35-days to get my ass in gear and train. It wasn’t until 2 weeks before the run that I actually believed I had a chance of completing it. That day I had walked 5km to the gym then jogged for 7km (1 min break between kilometres). There was a glimmer of hope. I had two days like this but subsequently my last few runs didn’t go so well.
I met my friends at Sunnybrook Park where the race was taking place. It was c-c-c-c-cold. We all joked about how we would normally just be tucking ourselves into bed around this time after a crazy night out (it was 7am). Rebecca gave us a fabulous pep talk to get us in the mindset for the race “We’re here…we feel good…we look good. It’s as simple as one step in front of the other.” Followed by “whenever you feel like giving up .. just sing …don’t stop ’til you get enough”.
A few minutes into the race I was struggling. I didn’t do my usual 5km warm-up like I usually do and I wasn’t used to running outside. Within the first two kilometres I almost gave up. I was literally thinking of all the people I had told that I was doing this and how mad at myself I would be if I didn’t complete. I was so into my thoughts that I shot passed all the firemen at the 2km mark. Not even a glance!!! Most of the race was a blur. There are certain checkpoints that I don’t even remember. It was such a mental challenge that I had to stay focused on my thoughts. I knew my body could do it. Like Rebecca said, it is as simple as one foot in front of the other. The volunteers cheering us on along the path were priceless. They were so encouraging and truthfully kept me going. They were so genuine with their praise and encouragement. At one point I actually took in the scenery and appreciated what was around me. I was running next to the river. There were beautiful bridges and lots of trees to shade the path. When I reached the 7km mark, I knew that with every stride, I was setting a new personal record. I had never jogged more than 7km before. Finally at the 8km mark I could take in the real scenery…the firemen!! I slowed my pace to a walk to catch my breath and rehydrate before jogging again. After the 9km sign I knew I was in the home stretch. Around each corner I thought the huge red FINISH sign would be there but each time I rounded the corner I had to go a little further. When at last I saw the sign, I also saw my mom was waiting to cheer me on the last 50 feet.
I could also see my friends who finished before me just past the finish line cheering me on. When I crossed the finished line I got so emotional. Although this is something I’ve always wanted to do, I just never thought that I could do it. I hope you girls have some idea of how proud I am of all of us.
The past few days I have reflected on the race and equated it to my life these past few years. There have been some major bumps in the road, different events have thrown me off course and at times it has been an uphill battle. I see the volunteers on the road as my friends and family who have cheered me on and guided me to different checkpoints on the way to my goal. At times I’ve just wanted to take short cuts and speed through to get to the finish line without actually taking in the scenery along the way. As I said earlier, each time I rounded a curve I thought I would see the finish line. In fact, I’d have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. When I could finally see that red inflatable finish line, it suddenly seemed secondary to my mom and friends who were all cheering me home. Thank you for all your support. I know I am nowhere near reaching my goals in life, but it is longevity that I am after and therefore I must pace myself.
I have signed up for two 5km races in the next few weeks to keep me on track. Join me!