Monday, October 1, 2012

It's a Race!

On Saturday, I ran a 5K.

I started training several weeks ago, waking up nearly every morning at 5:10. Occasionally I didn't even push the snooze button, and actually went to the gym.

The first day of training, I walk / ran it in 46:34, but by last Saturday, I had cut almost seven minutes off the time. My very best time was 39:41, and that was pushing myself to the point of non-function the next day. I could run for two miles without stopping. Two very slow miles, but all in all, I thought I was ready.

But then on Saturday, after they said go, and after about two minutes of running, I realized that training indoors was a bad idea. I forgot, somehow, that the cold morning air burns my lungs to breathe, and that the ground isn't always as perfectly flat as it is on a treadmill. The real life race was hard. My shoes came untied, so I stopped to tie them, while everyone, including a pair of speed-walking grandparents, passed me.

I wasn't worried yet. I'd catch up. I had trained for this. I could run two miles without stopping. I just hadn't reached my second wind yet. So I kept going.

The whole time, I felt so slow, and so weak. My left knee started aching because the pavement was higher to the left, and I hadn't trained for that. As much as I could run indoors on a treadmill, I found couldn't run more than a minute or so outside without stopping. My body felt like the first day of training.  But I kept going.

I just wanted to catch up with the speed-walking grandparents. I had thirty years on them, I should have been able to pass them. I found out later, that they walk four miles every morning at 5:00 a.m.

I'm starting to regret that snooze button.

I never did pass them again. It became just me, running by myself at the back of the pack, trying to trick my mind to keep going. The grandparents ran right at the  front edge of my sight, showing me where to turn. I lost them for a while as the the race turned downhill.

The best part was running downhill. The wind rushed past my face, and I felt like I was flying.  But then the road went flat again, and then up hill, and around curves. I kept going, sometimes walking, sometimes running.

When I got to the church house that marked the end of the race, I couldn't see any cars in the parking lot. I thought I was so slow, that everyone had gone home without me. I slowed to a walk.

And then I heard my daughter yell, "There's my mom." My husband started cheering, and everyone else joined in. That's the good thing about coming in last, everyone is there at the finish line to cheer you on. I started to run. "You go, girl!," the grandparents cheered, "Push it!" yelled the lady who had come in first place,  "Go, Mom!" my seven year-old screamed. I  had tears in my eyes, and my heart was in my throat,  pounding from exhaustion. Stop cheering, I thought. Because if you keep cheering, I'm going to start crying, and if I start crying, I'm going to throw up.

I crossed the line.


I was in shock. I thought I was going so slow, but somehow during the race, I cut an entire minute off of my time. I went faster than I thought was even possible.

No, I didn't win the race.

I've never been the kind of person who wins at races. But I have always been, and will always be, the kind of person who shows up, and the kind of person who finishes.

And to me, that's winning.


What I'm reading now: Letter Games from Melanie, and Sabrina
What I'm writing now: FTCM, final look through. (and ...hopefully...letter games)


  1. Holy smokes! I don't think I'd be able to get the "2 miles on the treadmill without stopping" part down, let alone finish the race. Congratulations!

    By the way, Rat Race is such a funny movie, and I'd completely forgotten about it until today. I haven't seen it in about ten years. I'm looking for it at the library tomorrow. Thanks, Sheena!

  2. First of all--that's amazing Sheena! Congratulations. You are my heroine on a whole new level now.

    Second of all-hurray about the Letter Games! :)

  3. Congrats Sheena. That is winning in my book too. :)


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