Whew, I am tried just remembering the last few months. It is no surprise then that my Couch to 5k training was at zero for almost three whole months before the race on Saturday. So to say that I was dreading this race was to put it mildly. But, I knew that I had to do it anyway. So I swallowed my fears and put on my tighter-than-they-were-two-months-ago running shorts and set out to Minnehaha Park with my sister by my side.
Missy was there, who started training at the same time as me, and whom I have seen grow and flourish this past year in particular. Beth was there too, 5 weeks postpartum, with an adorable daughter that made my ovaries ache, ready to run again. Darcie, Kellyn, Cindy, Laura and all sorts of blogger and twitter friends were there volunteering and giving their time to a cause they care about. To a cause I care about too. There was a reason I chose this 5k afterall.
I may be telling my story of the day but the real reason for the day was Matt, and his need to serve other people to strive to ease other's pain and to transform his wife's horribly tragic death into something that brings life into the world. He does it for Liz his wife, now gone, and for his daughter, Maddy, who will know her mother in part by the powerful deeds done in her name.
Here I am with Matt (post race). A reminder to me that it is about so much more than me and a 5k
Still, despite the wonderful cause and all the friends, there was one other person who made sure I was still there. My sister, Kristin. She flew from Michigan people to be here with me for this event, this 5k that I failed to train properly for. She flew in after a week work trip, on 2.5 hours sleep, to walk beside me on a race that she could have run herself much faster than me.
It was her who acknowledged all those unspoken fears and still said unequivocally "You Rock sister Dear." She came and she walked with me every step of the way.
Kristin and I pre-race. Isn't she lovely?!
Before I knew it, it was time to line up and get this run started. The runners, like Missy here, were in the front, while the walkers were in the back.
It was surreal being in a sea of runners and athletes. My place is most often on the sidelines. With the exception of a few years as a star soccer goalie in elementary school, sports and I haven't been friends. I am not fast, I am hardly coordinated, and my short stubby legs keep me on the fringes of most events. Yet, here I was, at the heaviest I've been in years, amongst these people, some of whom I knew, and some of whom I didn't know, ready to run a race. Again I felt out of place, but it was too late because just as I was trying to process these thoughts it was time to go.
And so we did. We walked for 5 minutes to have a good warm up and then we alternated walking and running as I felt like I could. Kristin would say, "Let's run when we get to the streetlight and run until the pedestrian sign" and I would agree and work my way into a slow trot. I felt every one of those pounds I've gained, but I would complete each stretch and then walk some more while I gained my breath.
And sure enough a mile marker passed, and then the turnaround, and then mile two, and we just kept going. It wasn't fast, it wasn't pretty, but we pushed forward. I kept asking for the time and to my surprise I found that I was on pace to make it under an hour. The hour was my goal. The hour seemed to represent the line between progress made and a complete regression into slug-ness. But we were on pace, so we kept going with my sister always whispering in my ear, "You can do it, you ROCK!"
After what seemed to be an impossibly long time and yet no time at all the end was in sight. And so when we were suitably close we went back to running and ran our way to the finish. (Photos courtesy of Darcie)
As we jogged to the finish there were people cheering for me, my friends, come out to see me accomplish this goal. It was (is) so easy for me to focus on how much better it could have been, but they were overjoyed on the what was. Their joy was infectious for me and I ran in feeling that I truly had accomplished something big.
And the time? 58:30. Under an hour. Impossibly it seemed I reached my goal that was so daunting in my mind. I did it, with my sister by my side.
Kristin and I Post-race
Missy and I Post-race
I wish I could say that I finished my Couch to 5k program and RAN my first 5k, but I did accomplish something big this weekend. It was a 5k, but not a 5k too. I literally finished the 3.1 miles of the race and met my goal time. That's true. But I also accomplished something bigger. I beat the voice. You know the voice. It was the voice who spoke words of fear and doubt in my head. It was the voice who wanted to compare what I could do to what others could do. A 5k may not be a challenge for many, it is for me, and I accomplished it.
It is the voice to makes me want to delete these pictures in horror of my weight, but there are here instead on my blog for all to see. These pictures remind me that the voice speaks out of fear, judgment and criticism of me. But when I think of this weekend, instead of feeling defeat over what might have been, I think of voices the friends cheering for me crossing that finish line, and the voice of my sister saying "Liz, you ROCK!"
That voice didn't prevail this weekend. Instead it was the voice of my sister in my ear reminding me constantly that I could.
And I did.
And the voice has lost a little more of its power.
Thank you Kristin. I love you.