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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Running

A few weeks ago, I ran a 5k.

This was a big deal for me because it was something I never ever thought I would be able to do. I've posted before about my lack of athletic ability. P.E. class was pretty much a soul crushing experience all through school. In fact, I remember running in P.E. Twice a year, we would do a twelve minute run. We were expected to run for twelve minutes and keep track of the number of times around the playground we were able to go in that time. My record number of times around the playground was less than one. I got three quarters of the way around the track, and couldn't catch my breath, and I was done. I honestly felt that running wasn't something that I was able to do. That was for athletic people. I walked, danced, did pilates and aerobics, but never went running. Later hip problems only confirmed my beliefs that running was something other people did. Not me.

Things changed when my youngest came home from school and told me she was having trouble in P.E. They were running every other day, and training to run a 5k by the end of the year. Running was difficult for her, and she was struggling. I was encouraging, and told her to keep going, and she'd be fine. I felt like a hypocrite. I knew I couldn't do it, and yet I was expecting her to be able to? On my daily walks I started to break into a jog, just to see how it would go. It didn't go well. I lost my breath pretty quickly, and had to stop. Maybe some people were just born to run naturally, and my family was missing that gene somewhere.

In March, a friend of mine mentioned something about a couch25k program. It's designed to get someone who had never run to gradually train to run a 5k. I looked it up. It started out pretty easy- walk for 30 seconds, jog for 30 seconds. Maybe I could do that. Even better, I found out that there was music you could download for free on itunes that went with the program! The music would speed up or slow down when you needed to walk or jog so you didn't have to watch the clock to time your workout. I decided to try it. I downloaded the Podrunner Intervals First Day to 5K podcasts, and I started jogging.

I still didn't believe that this would actually work. I made a deal with myself that I would try, but if it got too hard- like, if I threw up, or passed out, or threw out my hip or something, then that would be it. The first week, I had no problems. I was able to do the workout without difficulty at all. The second week, the bursitis in my hip and knee started to act up. I thought that would be it, but I looked up knee and hip pain and read some good suggestions on how to work through it. I waited an extra day to make sure the pain went away and tried again, using some of the advice. No problem. I kept going. I kept succeeding. Week after week, I would finish my run astonished that I had done it without any serious pain or difficulty. I started to like it.

The last week of the program happened to coincide with my daughter's final 5k run in P.E. Parents were invited. I stood with all of the sixth graders, and several other parents, and for the first time in my life I ran a race. I ran with my daughter. Unfortunately, we got separated pretty quickly, and had to run on our own. I was able to keep going the entire way, and it was so amazing crossing the finish line to the cheering of a whole bunch of students, teachers, and parents. A few minutes later, I was able to cheer as my daughter finished the race too.

I'm still running, and I'm still surprised. I start off in the morning, thinking of how far I have to go, and a part of me still hesitates. Then I go ahead and run it anyway. It's not necessarily my favorite way to exercise. Nothing really compares to the joy of dancing, or a long walk on a perfect day. The sense of accomplishment, however, is pretty amazing.

I expect that I will continue to be surprised. About a lot of things.

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