Thursday, September 13, 2018

5K Motivation

I posted a blog a few months ago about how this was going to be a year of growing and learning and trying new things. I mostly meant in my photography business but somewhere along the way I got tangled up in some personal growth stuff as well. I've honestly never really given much thought to the idea. The extent of my personal growth background consisted of walking through the aisle at Barnes and Noble and giggling at all the "self-help" book titles out there.. "So Your Son is a Centaur", "How To Be Pope", "Knitting With Dog Hair,"or "How To Speak Cat." I don't even know..

Anyways, one day back in May I got a crazy thought in my head. Really crazy. I usually like to hear out the thoughts in my head, entertain them a bit at least, but this one just seemed a little out of control, pretty far fetched. It told me something I'd never heard it say before or ever expected it to say in my lifetime. Something that really sounded like a bad idea.. potentially dangerous.

It told me I should go for a run.

This voice made it seem like this "running" would be something enjoyable to do.  Positive, if you will. Now let me preface this by saying I am NOT a runner. Oh sure it may look like I'm semi-in shape and I played sports and actually ran track in high school, but I am not kidding when I say that in track practice after the run jog around the block (we weren't fancy enough to have a track at our school) and actually only 3 sides of the block so roughly 300 meters, as a warm up for the rest of the team, would literally end me. I would be heaving in the intersection, partially collapsed near the stop sign, gasping and calling for oxygen, while stumbling around with my hands above my head to stop the ever increasing cramps that were sure to take my life shortly while the rest of the team took their "warm up" and joyfully continued on to their 10 mile run that was their actual practice. What in the world??? I was mainly a sprinter and jumper in high school (not really that great of one either..) and I absolutely hated it when my coach would make me run the 200m dash. Dash? There was no dashing involved. In my world, the 200 meter was akin to an Olympic marathon. One that I had to pace myself and conserve energy so as to be able to complete the long journey. Carb loading the night before was a must. I am not a long distance runner. It's just not something I'm naturally good at. I never have been. My entire life whenever I've heard someone say that they run for "fun" I assumed they were either 1. lying. or 2. certifiably crazy and I should back away verrryyy verrrrrryyyyy slowly. There's a man who runs Ella's Run every year who jogs a "warm-up" 5K before the actual race. What in the actual world... I'll be adding that to my list of wonders to ask God about someday..

This voice kept pestering me though. However, in keeping with my previous life story of primarily only doing things I'm good at, I wanted to ignore that voice. I knew I was not good at running. I knew I didn't enjoy it. I knew I would fail it it. But the voice was insistent. And weird. But eventually I listened. When my husband got home from work one day I informed him that I wanted to go for a run and after he picked his jaw up off the floor and wiped the puzzled look off his face, I laced up my 5 year old tennis shoes (might be an indicator of how often I work out that they're still in pristine condition..), closed the door to the sounds of my children gleefully guffawing about the prospect of their mother actually running, and took off down the road. That first night I made it an entire half mile. I was SOOOO proud of myself. I'm not even exaggerating. I hadn't run that far in years. I couldn't believe I did it! I hoped I had silenced that voice in my head, checked it off the ol' "life goal" list, and walked the rest of the way home, wheezing just a little. But a few days later, once I could walk again, the voice was back. I should run. Why? I don't know. Well.. I reasoned.. I ran a half mile the other day, I could probably do it again. But this time when I got to my half mile marker, I wondered if I could run a little further. One more block. Just to see. And this continued. Every few days I would get the urge to run, and each time I ran I tried to go just a little further than the last time. To the next electric pole, to the crick, past the dead badger on the road that's been there for a month (good motivation to get past the smell..). Until one day I ran an entire mile without stopping or dying. I couldn't believe it. I had not run an entire mile since the Standard Physical Education Test in 6th grade. No joke. At 33 years old I had done something I had not done in over 20 years.

I thought about stopping there but the next time I ran I still had that next electric pole in sight. Another thought started to creep into my head that if I could run a mile, well then maybe I could run a 5K, right? I mean.. people do that. I've seen it with my own eyes. That's only 3 times as far as I had just built up to running after an entire 2 months of training. *eye roll. But the scary thing was, I honestly didn't know if I could do a 5K. Like physically.. didn't know if I could do it. Remember in all my years of track I still couldn't make it around the block? I really didn't know if it was possible for my body to run that far and survive to tell about it. Maybe I had capped out at a mile. Reached my potential. I should accept my award, thank my colleagues and parents and husband and God and everyone who made this dream possible, and finish my running career at the top of my game. I kept it in the back of my mind but I honestly hardly entertained the thought. Because I didn't think I could. I wish I could tell you that I took my own advice about living without fear and regrets and challenging myself and not being afraid to fail, but I didn't. I wish I could tell you that I decided I could do hard things and signed up for the next 5K to keep me motivated, but I really didn't want to fail. So I didn't sign up. I wish I could tell you I was so focused on my goal that I sacrificed and trained hard every day to achieve it. But I didn't. I wish I could tell you I dreamed big dreams and set out to accomplish all that I could. But I didn't. I was too afraid of saying I was going to do something and then not being able to follow through with it, so I didn' say anything at all. But I did keep going a little further every day. Quietly, putting my head down, and taking a few more steps. And guess what? Pole by pole, dead animal by dead animal, eventually I did it. After that first mile, I ran a mile and a half, then 2, and eventually I ran an entire 3 miles. All at once. Without stopping. And I was still breathing. mostly

A few weeks ago I completed my first official 5K Race. I wasn't first. I wasn't last. But I finished. I still don't necessarily consider myself a "runner." I had intentions of buying actual running shoes, or maybe a arm band for my cell phone and better ear buds, but in the end I ended up wearing my half-a-decade old shoes, holding my phone, and swiping my 10-year olds headphones.. I'm not sure if running is something I'm going to continue to pursue or not. I can't say I necessarily enjoy the act of running, but I do enjoy having ran having run ranning. I enjoy when it's over.

It might not be a big deal to a lot of people. After all, I have friends who have run half marathons and full marathons, or family members who have done actual hard things like beat cancer.. but I'm still proud of myself for showing up and taking steps (literally) to be a better version of myself. Part of me wishes I would have set my big 5K goal at the beginning of the summer so I could write some motivational post about goal setting and not giving up and not being afraid to fail and if I can do it you can too and look how far I've come! But I'm obviously still quite the work in progress. Maybe it's ok that I didn't set big goals or dream big dreams. Maybe it's ok that I just literally put one foot in front of the other. Maybe it's ok that it took baby steps and not giant leaps. Maybe there's more than one way to get to your goal. Maybe there's more than one path to take. Maybe I'm just BS-ing to make myself look better. Either way..

The point is- No matter what you want to do or how you want to get there, even if you don't know or don't think it's possible, just start. Just show up. Take one step. And then another. It's scary to dream, but it's even scarier to think about a life without dreams. Don't be too afraid or caught up in not knowing how it's going to end or if you're going to be able to complete it. Live your best life. Be your best you. Listen to that crazy voice in your head every once in awhile. With caution of course. I still think 26.2 miles is a little too far.. ;)