A week ago, I ran a race. A 5K. Not a long race; not a fast race. But it was a big race for me. It was my first race.

It was the Sand Gnats Homerun 5K. The race wound through Daffin Park, then took us down Police Memorial Trail – a quiet, wooded running path in my neighborhood that I didn’t even know existed. The finish line was across home plate in the Sand Gnats stadium, and running through that chute felt so good. My goal was to run the entire 5K without walking, and although it was a challenge, I met my goal.

Homerun 5KSix months ago, if you had told me I’d would run in a race, I would’ve laughed. If you’d have told me that by July, I’d not only have one race under my belt, but at least four more on my racing calendar for the next year, I wouldn’t have believed you. Yet all these things are true, although not because I’m particularly good at running. I’m not fast and running has not come easily for me. But in spite of all that, I find myself enjoying the sport.

I began running in March, and at the time I wasn’t sure if the new hobby would last more than a run or two. I felt the urge to write about running so I did, but I wasn’t ready to publish the posts. If I decided to quit running, I didn’t want to have to explain myself. But if I kept running, I thought it would be fun to look back on my training from day 1.

Who knows if I’ll be a life-long runner or not? But at this point I can at least say this: I am running. And I’m having fun.

I’m going to begin periodically publishing my earlier posts starting with the first one, which I wrote about 3 months ago.

This Running Thing
(Written in March 2011)

I have always hated running because I’ve always been a horrible runner. I
felt that when it came to running, you were either a natural-born runner, or not a runner at all. I couldn’t do more than sprint across the street without
gasping for air and clutching at some random pain in my side. I was
pretty sure “runners” didn’t feel this way. Therefore I was firmly in the non-runner category.

And I was ok with this. I had other outlets. I worked out on the elliptical machine. And I got bored.

two things happened. People I know, people who had never run before, began running. And they enjoyed it. And then a friend presented
a tantalizing offer. She wanted to run a relay marathon but needed a
running partner. And she was going to run this relay marathon at Disney.
And did I want to come to Disney and run with her?

A lot of things went through my head when I heard
this offer, like, “Are you nuts?” I was also flattered that she even
thought of me as someone capable of such a crazy thing as a half-marathon. And fresh off a
great family trip to Disney, I was drawn to the idea of going back

I asked for a few days to consider the proposition. The next morning I started the Couch to 5K
training app, just as an experiment to see if I could hack a 5K some
day, much less a half-marathon.

Couch to 5K Training: First 2 Weeks

first workout was an eye opener in two ways. At first, I was surprised
by how hard it was to jog 60 seconds without stopping. And I was also
horrified by this. But I plugged along and was surprised to find that I
was able to complete the workout without needing medical intervention.

night I spent a good deal of time trying to fall asleep but thinking
about running instead. Maybe the reason I’ve always hated running is
that I expected it to come more easily and more quickly. But maybe there
aren’t just two categories – natural-born runners and non-runners. Maybe any able-bodied person can learn to run if he or she is willing to take baby steps toward
that goal.

So far, one workout into week 2, I’m feeling mostly
the same. Each workout is difficult, and I remain embarrassed about
that. My feet, knees, back, etc. seem to be holding up, but my lungs
just scream at me. But I think my biggest obstacle right now
is self doubt. When I struggle through a 90 second jog, I can’t stop the
voice in my head that says, “What are you thinking? You can
barely jog for 90 seconds! Do you have any idea how long a
half-marathon is? You’re going to embarrass yourself. You’re going to embarrass your
running partner.”

But then I finish the workout. And I don’t die
doing it. Today, although I struggled during the run, I was so
exhilarated to have finished all the intervals that I ended up jogging a few victory
blocks during my cool down. Just because I could. Because I still had a
little bit of energy left inside of me.

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