A 5K Story

Thanksgiving Day 2010

I couldn’t sleep at all last night. I woke up on the hour, every hour, between 1am and 6am. I tossed and turned and thought about how I thought this day would never arrive. I thought about all of the hard work and dedication and life changing habits I’ve formed since May 9th. I thought about all of the wise choices I made for myself when it would have been easier to give in and how that is also a marker for growth. I thought about where I was back in May and how I couldn’t run a minute, much less a mile… I’m a different person today. The person I am today can run 5 miles. Never give up on something you can’t go a day without thinking about.

I got up, made my coffee, and got dressed. Pants double layered, shirts triple layered. Forecast? 8 degrees above zero but feels like -9 degrees below zero. This was going to be a challenge. It rained, then snowed all day yesterday. I purchased yak trax for times exactly like this moment (although I’d never road tested them before!). I emptied my cupboards of things that have been sitting there for too long now that I am eating healthier, and put them in my donation bag for the Union Gospel Mission of St Paul.

I left my home and drove to St. Paul and arrived to a buzzing crowd of very cold people. Found my parents almost immediately, smiles plastered on their near-frozen faces. They were my appointed paparazzi for the day! Got my number… 589. 8’s, just can’t escape them lately! Found the Hip Chicks that came out to run in support of my first 5k (Tammy, Erin, Brigitt, and honorary Hip Chick Adrien) and SparkPeople/Hip Chicks MBOURKE8 (Melanie) and 4THELASTTIME (Shannon).

I asked one of the volunteers what the condition of the path was, but he didn’t know. I asked him if he had ever run in yak trax. He said no, but if he had them that he would be wearing them today. That was enough convincing for me. I propped myself up against a pillar and got them strapped to my shoes. I figured I better go big or go home… a day of firsts would include a first time running in yak trax!

Everyone was in good spirits, albeit anxious to get the show on the road. Once people finally started moving, it was probably a good 5-7 minutes before I was able to make any headway. I started my iPod when I actually started jogging vs. standing there waiting for the crowds to shift. I was bound and determined not to keep checking how much further I had to go since I had the voice prompts on my iPod anyway. I weaved in and out of the crowds, because walkers were 2-3 deep, and I knew I was going faster than I normally ran. I just kept running though because I didn’t want to get stuck behind walkers and not be able to keep going.

Chug chug chug along… 1k complete. Awesome! Keep going. I paid attention to things I saw, like the tree that had a wooden sign nailed to it that said “Life Line”. I watched the people in front of me buzz past me then slow down to walk… and then I jogged past them. There were a couple that were doing the “run like the wind then walk” dance with me. I was both amused and annoyed at the same time. Slow and steady wins the race.

2k completed. Huh… not so bad at all. Kept going, thinking about how someone told me her friend ran behind her like there was a moving target on her back. Made me smile to myself. Looked to my left, saw Shannon run by in her bright pink jacket. Never did see Melanie, but she is a speedy little devil.

2.5k completed. Half way done! Yes! At this point I decided to see how I was doing for time and pace since I hadn’t checked yet. “1.59 miles completed, Time: 16:08, Pace 10:07/mile”. WHOA baby! That’s a total PR!! 10:07/mile? Hell yeah!

And then… my iPod died. Again! NO!!! Seriously, I hadn’t even finished one lap around the lake and this race was 2 laps. Moreover, I hadn’t finished one lap around the lake and it said I was over half way done so FOR SURE it is more than a 5k (it is, 3.34 miles). Dilemma ensued. What to do… dink around with my iPod trying to get it to work for a short period more, or suck it up sans iPod?

I took off my iPod, stuck it in my pocket, and was left with only the sound of my breathing and shoes hitting the ground. I haven’t run without my iPod ever, and to be honest I’m not sure if I enjoyed it as much. Having music allows my thoughts to wander… no music created a hyper focus on my breathing, which was most definitely off after I became aware of it. However, I kept running because I had made up my mind I was running the whole thing.

I passed the time clock for the first lap… it read just over 20 minutes. I knew it hadn’t taken 20 minutes, so I just let it go. I ran by my photog-parents, waved hello, and kept going. I thought about how happy I was to have layered up. I thought about how happy I was to have worn a full hat today (this is credited to someone because I remember they wrote that wearing a hat saved her life at the marathon). I thought about how great these yak trax were and how much traction they provided and how little I could feel them. They are snow tires for your shoes. Invest, Snow Bunnies! Kept going… and going… and going…

I could see the home stretch at this point. Thought about how Chris had started off Tuesday’s workout with the statement “Today’s workout isn’t going to be easy” and how much I’ve wanted to call and yell at him for the last two days because my butt still hurts from the lunges he made me do. Thought about the laughter and tears and conversation we have shared over the past 6 months and how lucky I feel to have him in my life. Thought about how if he were here with me, he would tell me to finish strong.

Coming up on the clock, I could see it was a little over 40 minutes, but I knew that it was closer to 32-34 minutes. While I may never have an official time since my iPod died and this wasn’t a chip race, I feel completely comfortable calling it at 34 minutes for a high estimate between the crowds and the time it took to get rolling. And for 3.34 miles at that. Looks like crowds feed me adrenaline.

We all gathered for pictures afterwards and set off on our own way. I got hugs and kudos from my parents, which felt good. I knew they were proud of me… hell, I am proud of me! After we split up, I was leaving the race and walking towards my car when I hear “Hey, lady with the sign on her back. Yeah you! Come back here!” One of the things we were encouraged to do is create a sign of the things we are thankful for this year and wear it on your clothing. So I did. Turns out the person calling me back was the Emcee of the race. He asked my name and where I lived… and then he proceeded to read my sign out loud to the crowd that was standing there. People clapped when he said it was my first 5k. It was a super cool moment, made me feel very special.

I got in my car, chilled to the bone. Sitting there shivering, I realized what I had done: I’d accomplished the goal I committed myself to at the beginning of the year. There were no tears, simply an enormous sense of accomplishment that I haven’t really known before. I’ve never been as successful as I’ve been this year. This life I’ve created for myself is more than I dreamed of and what a better way to pay tribute than running in honor of that.

I have healed my life.

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2 responses to “A 5K Story

  1. Very cool. This was inspiring as I just signed up for my very first 5K that happens in March! It sounds fun, but I will make sure my iPod is charged! 😉

    • Thanks much! My first 5K was definitely a memorable experience. I’m sure that yours will go much more smoothly than mine (definitely make sure your iPod is charged!) Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I’ll look forward to your tasty recipes!

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