Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fit2Fight

In high school, I was on the track and field team, but I hated running. You can read why here. In college, I joined the military and was in the best shape of my life, but I still, maybe even more so, HATED running.

I hated running so much that when my neighbor moved in next door and mentioned that she needed a new running buddy, I just laughed and said, “I hate running.” She would still ask me to join her on a run every now and then. I joined her maybe once. It felt like torture. Why do people subject themselves to this? Who in their right mind would pay someone to be able to run? I would NEVER be a person who paid money to someone in order to run a race. People who do that are surely insane.


Fast forward two years.


My neighbor’s husband, in addition to being in the Air Force, is also a firefighter. When they moved in next door, he went through the necessary steps to be able to work with our local FD, which is largely volunteer based. In May 2016, the FD held a Fit2Fight 5K Fun Run. There was a competition between the different stations in the department to see which station could get the most racers signed up. My neighbor was running to support her husband, and I in turn decided pretty much out of the blue to sign up to support both of them. I was 7 months postpartum and ready to lose some weight. Training for a 5K seemed like a good place to start. Despite my distaste for running, there was a minuscule part of me that had always wanted to see if I could complete a 5K. If you hated running so much, why would you want to see if you could complete a 5k? I know. I’m a walking ball of contradiction.


I didn't do too much training for the race, as I only ran three times in the month leading up to it. I did my best to practice the route to ease some anxiety and just to see if I could run the entire distance before the actual race. I think the best I got was two miles without stopping to walk. But, I was proud of myself for that because the last time I had gone two miles without stopping was in the military eight years ago. I don't recall there ever being a moment that I actually enjoyed the running, but I did it because I had committed to the race, and I wanted to do my best.


Race day came and I felt sick to my stomach. Not from an illness but from nerves. Like, worse than stage fright – and I've performed in front of some large crowds. I had two goals for myself for the race: first, I wanted to run the entire distance and second, I wanted to not finish last. There were several walkers, so I figured I had a chance of finishing before them. But, I was unsure if I was capable of running the whole thing. At race check-in, we found out the course had changed slightly. So, I thought I might get mentally defeated like I used to with my military PT tests.

Once the race began, my neighbor and I stayed together for about a half mile, I think. After that, she slowly got farther and farther ahead of me. I wasn't trying to match her pace, though. I just did my best to keep putting one foot in front of the other. By the time I got toward the end of the race, there was a bit of an uphill. I wanted to walk so badly. There were some young girls in front of me that were walking, and every time I caught up to them, they sprinted ahead a bit and started walking again. It was frustrating that I wasn't passing them. They were walking!!! Aghhh!! However, I didn't feel like I had anything more to give. I tried to focus on myself and not worry about what those around me were doing.

As I rounded the last corner and saw the finish line, I was able to pick up my pace a tad. Adrenaline helped, I guess. My kids were standing along the course to cheer me on and give me high fives. My husband was off somewhere trying to take pictures. I pushed as hard as I could to the end. My finish time was 35:32, but due to the course change, the route was only three miles and not a full 5K. In any case, I was so ecstatic that the race was over and that I had completed it without walking. I enjoyed my post-race snacks and headed home with my family.

I just ran 3 miles without stopping!

I contemplated saving my race bib, but I ended up throwing it away because I didn't expect to run any more races. Racing was surely a one-time thing, though perhaps, I'd do the same race next year to support the FD. I briefly joked with my husband that I should commit to doing five 5K’s by my thirty-fifth birthday – slightly less than a year away. But, when those words came out of my mouth, I was certain it wouldn't happen. Because, if you recall, I would NEVER be a person who paid money to someone in order to enter a race. Doing it one time didn't count because I was supporting the FD.

The next month passed and I avoided running. I did some cycling and a lot of walking, but I didn't expect to run again. Then, on July 1st, I received an email that would change that.


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