Well, tomorrow is the "big day"....my first 5K. I can't believe just 8 weeks ago I could barely run for 2 minutes straight. I won't be fast tomorrow but I will finish. Jack asked me today, "Do you think you will win?" I told him it wasn't about winning...just finishing was a great accomplishment. As a 12-year old boy who is obsessed with winning all sports, he didn't understand why I wasn't running to win. Someday he will realize that I am winning...just by being able to challenge myself and finish the course is winning for me. Let's be honest...getting up at 5 am 3 days a week also = winning for me.
In the past, when I "had" to run, I just ran like a gazelle, wanting to get it over with as fast as possible. I quickly ran out of steam because I couldn't sustain that pace. Thanks to our awesome trainer Stephanie Morey of Avalon Fitness & Health, I learned that it's all about finding your natural pace and listening to your body when you run. She taught us a great technique...to just put your arms down and relax in the middle of your run. It looks a little silly but I have to say, it has allowed me to get my breathing back under control and just relax. You don't realize how much you tense up as you run.
In all new experiences, I really try to reflect on what I have learned and incorporate that into the future. Upon reflection, here are some things I learned:
1. It's always easier to motivate with others. If it wasn't for the fact that I knew Cori would be waiting either at her house or in my driveway, I would have easily hit the snooze button every day and pulled the covers up a little tighter. In fact, the day I did attempt to "cancel" our running date, Cori said "NO!" and she was in my driveway in about 5 minutes to get me. You need friends like that. Friends that challenge you, don't let you quit, and that you know you can count on.
2. Speaking of friends, when you try new things, you meet really nice people. Our group was really fun. Our instructor Stephanie is in the perfect job...for her. She is naturally postive, motivating, and always in a good mood. What more could you want in a personal trainer? Even when it was raining, she popped out of her car with a big smile and said "Ready guys?!"...and she meant it. And our other running partner, Meena, was equally as happy and positive. I laughed every time I ran behind them...there they were chatting the whole way, with their hands gesturing wildly, laughing away. Seriously, I couldn't talk and run without losing my breath until about 2 weeks ago. I really enjoyed hearing about Meena's childhood in India and listening to Stephanie's tips on how to be healthier...it was always great conversation.
3. When you think you can't do it, you can. Stephanie was great about figuring out where our comfort zone was and pushing us just outside it a little more each time we ran. As hard as something feels at the time, just keep pushing yourself because in the end you will feel so good when you reach a new level. Whether that is learning a new skill or honing an old one - there's nothing like that feeling of having challenged yourself to be better.
4. There are a few songs I find difficult to run to. Such as Chumbawambah's "I get knocked down"..I kept imaging myself tripping and falling so I had to shut that off. "Give's You Hell" by the All American Rejects resulted in me singing "Running makes me feel like hell" so I had to stop that one. It's also hard to run to Neil Diamond...unless you are Cori. In our final leg, she has taken to singing "Sweet Caroline"...out loud. I believe your husband said you shouldn't do that, Cori...
5. I do have that 12-year old boy's competitive spirit in me. By the time we reach the last 1/2 mile, I want it to be over so I have taken to running like that gazelle at the end. Cori tried to outrun me the other day...and it immediately made me run faster. We talked trash to each other the whole way. "I am going to beat you!", "Eat my dust!", and "I don't like you anymore!!" I think we were even...although I'm just saying that...I'm pretty sure I beat her by a hair :) Competetive friendliness is always fun.
6. And finally, I learned that trying new things can really be surprising. I never liked running. I didn't feel like I was good at it, I didn't like feeling out of shape, it was boring...you name it, running was not my friend. But as I said when I started this, I do like a good challenge. And in the end, and Cori, don't read this, I actually kinda like running. Today I even looked up other 5K races that are coming up. And honestly, this was such a positive experience...running with a friend, meeting new people and laughing the whole time...that's very different than self motivating to run each morning by myself..so we'll see what happens but running isn't so bad. Of course, let's see how I feel after tomorrow!
Insert a little prayer here that I don't end up pulling a muscle running out of the parking lot tomorrow...