Not quite a mile into my first 5K in over twenty years, I began to doubt myself. My muscles felt strong, but breathing was beginning to be a struggle. I looked around at my fellow runners and determination overcame uncertainty. There was the woman around my age running barefooted, another woman was a good 8 months pregnant and running at a steady clip, and the 80-year-old man with the long white beard embodied possibility. I was running in a crowd of people that consisted of all ages, ability and we each had our own reasons to run. I fell behind a man who wore a t-shirt that read, “I am over 60 and diabetic; ask me how I am ahead of you.” Every single person in that race, as far as I am concerned, is an inspiration. We each have a story. Even me. I decided that I was perfectly capable of continuing and finishing this race.
I told myself to focus on form and breathing. “I can do this!” said the good little voice in my head. The little guy sitting on my other shoulder, the one with the horns, could go back where he came from; from here on out I would listen to the little angel voice instead. I made it to the water station, threw my paper cup on the ground and picked up the pace. Just before 3 miles, I wanted to stop and take a little break, but I did not. I slowed to a walk for about a half a city block and moved up to a jog again. When I saw Inferno’s Pizza, I knew I was almost home free, so I ran faster! That’s when I heard my name and saw my husband, who finished about 10 minutes ahead. He was cheering me on with my trainer from the gym who had come out to watch. I am so fortunate to have people who support and encourage me to achieve my goals. That is another blog post. I finished the race in 32 and a half minutes, in my age group, I was 2nd out of 26. Pretty good, I figure, considering my goal was simply to finish. Now I could recover with sausage wraps and Shiner beer; we were at Gruene Hall, after all, the oldest dance hall in Texas and rich in Texas-German history.
Years ago, in my thirties, jogging and the occasional Fun Run was a healthy outlet for me but then I quit. For many years, I was sedentary and had myself convinced that I was too old, too clumsy, too busy, too whatever to work out or run or do anything too active. And I was. But now I’m not. I am younger than I used to be (it’s true) and through training at the gym, paddle boarding and running, I have built up enough stamina and enough muscle so that I can live an active lifestyle. It feels good. My body feels better, and I feel better in the head. I am a better person all around.
I have registered for three more 5K runs in the next several months and I am so excited about it! I even believe now that I can work my way up to a 10K and that is my new goal! I am fully aware of the hard work, sweat and time it will require, and I am perfectly happy to accept that. It feels so good to believe in myself.