In my ongoing quest to keep my New Year’s resolution, I ran my second 5K of the year yesterday. Unlike the first when I ran on a sunny morning along the coast, yesterday’s race was in an athletic field on a gloomy, foggy day. The moisture hung thick in the air and I struggled to keep warm before the race began.
I was surrounded by soccer moms and dads and the kids whose league benefited from the event. I didn’t know a soul and everywhere I looked, people were gathered together like little cliques on the playground. While they chatted away, I made sure my playlist was ready to go with the new songs I had downloaded the night before.
There was something different in the air and I felt a determination that I hadn’t felt at January’s 5K. I was going to run this one all the way through.
The night before, one of my buddies sent me an encouraging message from his 5-year old daughter who is my little partner in crime when she comes to visit the office with her dad. She said that I “better not stop the whole time.” Though I’m sure the message was really from my buddy, I remembered those words as I lined up to the starting line.
“On your mark, get set, go!” And we were off.
It wasn’t long before the other runners left me behind and I was jogging alone. It was a familiar feeling to go at it by myself, but I had a fire unlike the previous runs I’ve done. I was off and running and I wasn’t going to stop until I was done.
I started to hurt around the halfway point. I was tired and just not feeling it any more. I desperately wanted to stop, but I reasoned with myself that if I could make it to two miles, I could think about taking a walking break.
As I reached the two-mile point, I was so ready to give up, but I remembered the sweet message and pushed through the dry mouth and aching limbs. It was only another mile to the finish line. Then I could take that break I wanted so badly. So I kept going.
I passed people and they passed me, but I stuck with it. I wasn’t in this to win the event for or to beat anyone; I was there to prove something to myself. I was there to fight like hell to accomplish a goal. My tunes helped me set a rhythmic pace that I could manage and then the light bulb went off in my head: running is not a physical activity, it is a mental one.
When I wanted to start walking, I thought about why. Was I out of breath? Huffing and puffing, yes, but definitely manageable. Was I in pain? I was uncomfortable, but it didn’t hurt. So why did I really want to stop? I couldn’t come up with any answer other than because it was the easy way out. And that dear Wonderlings, is bullshit.
Life is not about taking the easy way out. It’s about pushing through when you want to give up. It’s about getting to the root of why you want to quit. It’s about finding people who love and support you. It’s about setting a goal and fighting to make it happen.
The last 500 feet were the toughest of the entire race. I could see the finish line and I knew that although it was so close, it still felt so far away. And that’s exactly when I got a sudden burst of energy and found myself running faster than I had the entire race to cross that finish line.
As a Finisher’s medal was placed over my head, I was psyched. I was able to run a full 5K without giving up. It was an awesome feeling followed shortly thereafter by a wave of nausea. You really should eat a little something before participating in a run. I won’t forget that next time.
I stuck around for the awards ceremony to clap and cheer for the top three finishers in every age group. One by one, names were called to come up and collect a prize. When they got to the 19-29 year old females, a familiar name was called for 3rd place.
It was mine.