The 5K

I ran a 5K race last month. It was the first time I’d ever done one.

First of all, I love to run. I’m not that good at it, but if I’d known about the cathartic nature of running during my school years, I would have been in track. Maybe then I’d have gotten a scholarship, and wouldn’t have had to take out so many loans that it literally took multiple acts of Congress and a global pandemic for me to repay them.

But, instead, I snubbed all athletics, mainly because I sucked at them. I mean, I REALLY, REALLY sucked at them.

I was short (a problem for any sport involving flying balls), uncoordinated (a problem for any sport requiring speed and dexterity), terrified of pain (a problem for any sport involving contact with other humans and/or balls) and let’s face it, a little spacey out on the field (mainly because, I was mentally escaping by writing short stories in my head).

My PE classes were utter humiliation, and I was elated to find that I only had three semesters of it in high school. I counted down the days. Literally. My sophomore year,I actually sat down one day with the school calendar and counted how many times I’d have to go to PE, with it only being twice a week and all. (I made a little tear off booklet stating, “Only X more days of PE left.” It helped, by the way).

I finished my required quota halfway through sophomore year, and decided I was too cool for all athletics and they were all stupid. (Mainly, because they were too cool for me).

It wasn’t until college that I learned to run. In college, our athletic programs were about personal fitness, and taking care of your body. This was a different angle for me, and the the first time, I actually enjoyed it. No one threw balls at me, or yelled at me for being slow. My body was my own, and it was my job to take care of it.

That was when I became a runner.

Throughout my adult life, I have enjoyed running, although it’s been a stop and start journey. Life gets in the way, and I have months or even years, where it’s just not practical to find time to run. Then, things change, as they do, and I pick it back up. That’s the thing about running. It doesn’t matter if you leave for a while, it’s always there for you when you’re ready. (Cue the Nike ad).

The idea of a marathon came to me a number of years ago. I was in some writers group, and a woman read an essay about being picked on as a kid for being bad at sports, and then as an older woman, she ran a marathon to prove to herself that she wasn’t “that girl” anymore. I thought it was inspirational, and I decided one day I’d like to do that, for the same reason.

Decades went by, and I toyed with the idea of a marathon every now and then. But, it was never the right time. Until some late night binge-watching brought me to this movie.

It was based on a true story, and the end credits included photos of the actual protagonist crossing the finish line….I did exactly what the producers wanted me to do, I said, “If she could do it, I can to!” (Sometimes I’m such a sucker for a sales pitch).

I did some research and found a local marathon scheduled for March 2022, which according to all the websites, was the perfect amount of time to train. Then, I downloaded a marathon training plan.

I started it, and then found a local 5K. So, I thought it would be a great way to benchmark my progress. I got out there, with my earbuds, and my Spotify playlist on my AppleWatch, and I was primed and ready to go.

For some reason, I still don’t know why, I was huffing and puffing after about the first twenty yards, and by the end, I damn near died…and finished right above the family escorting a four year old.

So, hey, at least I didn’t finish last.

I spent the next few weeks, on my couch with cookies and coke, thinking my marathon dreams were more than bit…premature.

But, that’s the thing about running. It doesn’t matter when you do it, as long as you do it. Today, I picked my running shoes back up, and decided marathon or not, I was going to enjoy running for what it was. It was a beautiful November morning to do it too. Brisk wind, and the holidays just peeking in through the air.

I don’t know if I’ll run the marathon in March or not, but I sure enjoyed a beautiful fall morning…

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