Three months ago I couldn’t run a mile, and I recently ran my first 5K!
I ran it on the perfect day and in the perfect place: August 6th in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Why perfect? Because I haven’t lived in Minneapolis for about 25 years, but it’s where my heart calls home. And, August 6th is the day my high school boyfriend lost his life to a drunk driver 32 years ago. It was a long time ago, but this tragic event impacted my life in numerous ways and “my first love” has been in my heart ever since. As I tend to add emotional sentiment to things, this little 5K was a sort of “coming full circle” event for me. I found it very poetic and even cathartic.
Huffing and puffing for 3.1 miles, my playlist steeped in the classic rock that my boyfriend and I loved, Van Halen, Zepplin and Rush (to honor the 1979 concert we saw together), was a nod to where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. From broken, lost and running from pain. To whole, present and running towards life and health.
You would think going from 2 miles to 3 miles would be easy enough. It’s not. It’s almost like starting over. It’s how I felt going from 0 to 1 mile. The wall is hit, my body is done. Even as I write this, I’m feeling a little embarrassed because I’m still talking about RUNNING ONLY 3 MILES!
Sheesh! How hard can it be?!
I used to think that everyone could run 3 miles, except me. Kind of like the way I think everyone knows their times tables through the twelves except me. I mean, I know them, but I need extra time with the middle 8’s and 9’s because I was probably daydreaming about Shaun Cassidy that week in 4th grade, and I’ve struggled with them ever since. I’ve come to find out that not everyone can run 3 miles. Why? Because it friggin far! Don’t believe me? Set your odometer the next time you’re in the car. Find a landmark, and start counting.
Now imagine running that!
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m cutting myself a break lately. The idea that I “should” be able to run 3 miles has changed to, “Holy shit this is hard! If I can do this, I can do just about anything!”
So yeah, I’m doing my half ass training and 2.5 miles feels like my first mile.
3.1 is in sight, the only question is will I finish ugly or strong?
I agreed, on a handshake, to run a 5K; and I have less than 3 months to do it.
I know. Three months is a long time to train to run 3.1 miles. I get it. But I am new to this running thing, and for someone who can barely run 1 mile, 3 miles may as well be across the country. I am weak and out of shape and have almost no muscle tone to speak of. Can you say FLABBY? Oh sure, I exercise here and there — take walks, ride my bike, lift groceries, lug laundry; the basics. But to exercise to exhaustion? No. Not really.
I used to think that I didn’t sweat when I exercised. The truth is, I never worked hard enough. Oh sure, I’d break a sweat. But it never got in my eyes and rolled down my body like the Mississippi River.
I can sweat! And. I. Get. Soaked. Who knew?
This running (and sweating) thing is new territory. It’s exhilarating and satisfying and hard work. I don’t have a training plan and am winging it instead. Why? Because I don’t like following rules. And because I figured I could run every other day and gradually extend my distance until I hit 3.2. Simple enough, right?
Jake fell in love with running a few years ago, and hasn’t stopped since. He can run 40 or 50 miles a week with his eyes closed. Well, not really. But HE CAN RUN. Me on the other hand, I enjoy WATCHING him run. And feeding him when he’s done.
I am not a runner.
Then one day almost a year ago, upon returning from yet another run, my son asked, “so what are you doing mom?”
“What do you mean?”
“You know, for exercise.”
“Nothing…?” (Said in a guilty, I know I should be doing something voice.)
He asked, “Why not?”
My stupid answer, “I don’t know.”
Then my son asked, “Why don’t you start running?”
“Me run?? I don’t know.” Then something came over me. I don’t know if it was a need to impress my runner son, or that it felt like a dare, but he was right, and he called me out. I was a flabby weak thing and I needed to do something. So without thinking it through, I said “Okay.”
I started “running” (if you can call it that) in May 2011. It was brutal. Pure torture. Running was so uncomfortable for me that I was honestly nervous about having a heart attack. I couldn’t run a mile and barely half a mile. During one of these grueling, huffing and puffing one mile crawls with my (by now) son the coach, I somehow agreed to run a 5K by the end of summer. I don’t recall how this happened, but I remember we shook hands on it. And there it was. I just agreed to run 3.1 miles in a few months. I must have been oxygen deprived. I don’t go back on handshakes, so backing out or giving up was not an option. I will do this even if it kills me!
Dear God, please don’t let me die running. Thank you.