31 Days · running

Moments, Day 17: Starting to Win

Today I did it. I finally hit a goal that I’ve been working toward for what seems like FOREVER!!! I was running tonight and finally, finally ran 3 miles straight!!

So in the overall world of running, that may not seem like any big whoop-dee-doo. But believe me, for this girl, it’s practically a miracle! It was a milestone I’ve been trying to reach for some time, but couldn’t seem to get myself over that 2.7 mile hump. Thinking back to when I started running back in late May of this year with the Couch-to-5K program, I remember when I couldn’t believe that I would even be able to run for 8 minutes straight. Each day the periods of alternating walking and running changed a bit, slowly increasing the amount of running and decreasing the amount of walking. The program is 9 weeks long and you basically go from sitting on your duff to being able to run the equivalent time for a 5K, which is about 30 minutes. Except that I’m in the slow kids’ class. It took me even longer (about 12 weeks) to even complete the 9 week Couch to 5K program, because I had to do some weeks’ routines twice since it was to difficult for me to move on. I remember a conversation near the beginning of this running journey, when I was only running about 3 minutes at a time and practically dying by that third minute. I was lamenting to a friend of mine, who had already done the program in the past, about how I just couldn’t see how I would ever be able to make it a full 30 minutes. He told me “you’ll be surprised in a few weeks by what you’ll be able to do.” And I really was. I still remember the first day I ran 8 minutes straight! It might as well have been the Boston Marathon for me that day. And I was really, really over the top the first time my friend Amanda invited me to run with her. I was very hesitant. I’d never run alongside anyone before, and I was sure that I would be embarrassed by the fact that I’d be slowing her down. But you know what? That was the day I really felt like I could do it, because we were side by side and I ran a whole 25 minutes straight. Even though my version of running is the slowest on earth, I still did it. And I think that was my point of no return. I couldn’t believe I’d gone from agonizing over running for 3 minutes and now I was almost able to do 10 times that!

Even though I’ve been running since then, time constraints have always put me at about 30-35 minutes, and I could never do more than about 2.7 miles during that time. I’m just slow, that’s all there is to it. I’m getting faster, but that term is relative!

I have my moments when I’m thinking what are you so excited about? So big deal, you’re running about as fast as most normal people walk! Are you really doing much of anything? But I know that is just a bunch of trash talk to try to knock me off track. I am not concerned with running super fast. I am not concerned with doing this whole thing perfectly. I am just concerned with doing it at all.

I do have some goals in my sights. My very first race is coming up on Thanksgiving day, when I’ll be running 4 miles. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. I have no misconceptions about it…I know I’m not going to win the race or even come in 2nd, 3rd, or 10th! But I’m definitely going to win my race that day, which is just to finish at all. In fact, I think in many ways I’ve already won the race, just because I started.

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” -John Bingham, former couch-potato-turned-runner, author of several books including The Courage to Start, and completely inspiring guy.

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