When I was in junior high school, the rule was: if you wanted to be on a sports team, you had to run at least one cross-country race. Sure, it wasn't a hard and fast rule, but they scared the heck out of you by saying that if it came down to a choice between two people for the team and only one of them had run cross-country, they'd pick the runner because they showed more school spirit. (my jr. high always won the "all-around" championship simply by entering more runners than any other school)
I wanted to play volleyball, so I had to run a cross country race. Unfortunately, I wasn't a runner. I didn't have the stamina or the mental toughness to keep going when my body said "STOP YOU FOOL!" This resulted in me going to a couple of races and backing out at the last minute because "I didn't feel well". Finally, it was the last race of the season...so, I lined up at the start line, started running with everyone, ran for about a minute, then walked the rest of the way. I finished dead last. Always good for the ego of an awkward looking 12 year old.
Even in high school, I would dread the days that we had to run the longer distances in gym class. "12 minute run" day would send sick feelings to my stomach and I was elated that I somehow missed the day of the "Sandy Beach run". I just couldn't run.
I started participating in the CIBC Run for the Cure first as a member of my mum's team, then as the captain of my own team-"Walkers for Knockers". It is a 5 K walk/run mostly for fun and to raise money for breast cancer. After a few years of walking it, a couple of Julys ago I thought to myself "wouldn't it be cool if I actually ran it this year?" So, I put on my 3 year old cross-trainers and started running. No plan, no idea what I was doing. I figured that my downfall would be my left knee, even though some think their rebuilt ACLs are invincible, I know that mine is anything but. It only took about 2 or 3 weeks before I had a swollen, bruised and very painful left ankle. The doctor figured it was a stress fracture from doing too much too soon and that it was probably the left one due to a slightly weaker left knee/leg. I took that as a message that I wasn't a runner.
Last year, I watched Jordan's cousin complete her first half marathon as a part of the Ottawa Race weekend. It was really hot, really humid, but so inspiring to see people come to the finish line. You could see the determination and then relief on their faces. They had worked hard and had achieved something so important to them. I was a little jealous. The next day I called them crazy.
As winter approached, Jordan decided he would run the marathon. Remembering the exhausted, dehydrated, and pained faces of the finishers I had seen in May, I wasn't sure about it at first, but I could see he was determined and knew that I had to both accept and support the goal. I guess I decided that if he was going to challenge himself, I would put myself to the test. In January I made the decision to train for the 10K. I bought new shoes, I found myself a training schedule, and in February, I decided to make it "real" by telling people about it.
At first, I hated every second of it. I was on a treadmill, it was the middle of winter and my body had no idea what was going on. Run? I don't run! But slowly it started to get a little easier. As I moved outside, there was more to look at, there were people out there doing the same thing I was doing. They would smile at me in a "I can see by the look on your face that you're hurting...I know that pain" kind of way. I started to feel stronger and started to believe that I'd actually run the entire race...
16 weeks, almost 200 K, lots of sweat, some tears, many sore muscles/bones/joints, countless new songs on the i-pod and a lot of stubbornness later, I finished my 10K race in a time of 61 minutes and 27 seconds. The last kilometer was the toughest and it took a lot of talking to myself to maintain my pace and to even speed up. As I crossed the finish line (mere seconds behind my sister) I was exhausted, relieved, and a little choked up (no tears though...i think i was too tired for that;-). I was thinking about all of the times I had told myself that I couldn't run and had actually believed it. I was wondering what that awkward 12 year old would think of what she would accomplish 14 years later... I was also realizing that I was ready for more.
You know what's better than proving others wrong? Proving yourself wrong.
Next up, the HBC Run for Canada. My goal is to run it in under an hour.