Backstory: In 2006, I decided that I was going to start running. I don't really know why. I've NEVER been a runner or an athlete of any form or fashion. But I'd recently lost quite a bit of weight and was feeling healthier than I had in long time, so I felt inspired to push my body and see what I could do.
At first, I could only run a few feet. In fact, I set my goal to run from one light pole to the next; then, past two light poles. Eventually I increased my goal to run from my neighborhood to the neighborhood just up the street. I thought I'd never get there. After I achieved this goal, I wondered, "Could I run a mile?" I'd clock it on my car's odometer over and over -- the firestation. I had to run to the firestation.
Well, after much training with my friend Jennifer, we ran to the firestation. Then we set a new goal: to run a 5K. We trained for four months last year for our first race, the Turkey Trot, and last November we ran every step of the 3.2 miles. I just can't tell you how amazing this was for me -- to accomplish something so athletic, to push my body, and to reach my goal.
Last Thursday (7/03) I ran in my second 5K -- the Fireball -- with Tim. It was a 9 p.m. race, thank goodness! The July heat and humidity was tough enough, even at that late hour. Tim ran the Turkey Trot with me too, but since I had my running buddy Jennifer then, he went to the front of the pack to make good time. This time he committed to run with me the whole distance.
One thing I love about these races is the start: the huddled crowd waiting for the start, full of adrenaline and nervous chatter, and then the view of the runners slowly spreading out along the race route, a constant stream of people moving in unison. However, I quickly try to block out the other runners so I can establish my own pace and stick with it. And for the first mile, I do well. I love having Tim right by my side, matching my steps.
Then, a side cramp hits. Ugh. This didn't happen at the Turkey Trot. I try to push through and keep running but I can't. I have to slow down and walk. And I'm upset. I feel like a failure. I urge Tim to keep running, but he won't. He stays by my side and encourages me every step of the way. "You're amazing," he says, over and over again, whether I am walking or running (I do more of both). And my heart swells because I know that he believes this to his core. I may not be running a glorious race, but I feel glorious because of Tim's words.
In the end, we ran more than we walked, and we completed the race by running across the finish line (only 3 minutes slower than my Turkey Trot time). I find that I learn a lot about myself in my running, but on this night, chief among the lessons I learned was how blessed I am to have my biggest fan beside my side every day and every night -- keeping pace with me, urging me on, and inspiring me to keep running.
We're not sure when our next race will be, but we do intend to run the Knoxville 1/2 marathon in the Spring of '09. I can assure you that Tim and I will not keep the same pace in this race, so if anyone wants to be my running buddy, I'd love to have you join me! And if you've never run before, begin in the morning by running from one light pole to the next -- it's a start!