As my alarm sounded at a very early 5:25am yesterday morning, I got out of bed energized, although I’d only had about five hours of sleep. I was about to try a new four-mile running loop that I’d discovered, and I wanted to get at it early to be back in time to make my husband a special Father’s Day breakfast before our three girls woke him up.
I did a lot of reflecting as I ran. When I first came to you with the beginnings of my journey as a runner, what I lacked in confidence I made up for in ambition. I was ready to become a healthier me, to start a new phase in my life and to challenge myself. I’m happy to say that that hasn’t changed as I continue my journey. It hasn’t come without doubts, of course, but I like to think I’m crushing each inkling of self-doubt one by one every time I head out and conquer yet another run. Back in late May, I ran my first official 5K, and I was a bundle of nerves on the days leading up to it. You see, I’m an early morning runner; I prefer heading out well before 8am, and feel even better if it’s before 6am, when the sun isn’t too warm yet and it’s mostly just the birds for company. My 5K took place at 11am on the hottest and most humid day of Memorial Day weekend, with temperatures hitting 85 degrees by the start of race time. I tried to quell the self-doubt that crept up with as much water as my body could contain, and then decided that all I could do was give it my best. I was in the company of great friends as well as my cousin Kelly, all who started their own running journeys along with me and have supported and encouraged me along the way. I’m happy to say that we all made it, and with it, the right to cross one more thing off of my “bucket list”. I finished within a very normal time frame for my running pace, and though the heat was unbelievable, more so was the feeling of accomplishment I had as I crossed the finish line where my family was waiting. “I did it. I really did it.”, I remember thinking to myself as my husband handed me a bottle of water and enveloped me in a (very sweaty) hug. As cliché as it sounds, it was a huge moment for me; doing something that, even six months before that, would have been virtually impossible.
And so, where do I go from here? I did the 5K; do I keep going? Running has become such a part of me now that I can’t see myself stopping. What I’ve found is that finishing that 5K has given me an infinite amount of confidence. After all, I already know I can run a 5K; anything more is progress and something else of which to be proud. I’m continuing to set challenges for myself and am currently working on my speed as well as increasing my distance. I’m looking forward to doing yet another 5K at the end of July, this time not only with great friends, but with my husband as well! He, too, has gone through and finished the Couch to 5K program, and that will be our first race alongside one another. (Although…“alongside” is more of a figure of speech in this instance. He’s a lot faster and much more athletic than I am, the little brat. I mean…uh…great job, honey!) I’ve got my eye on a couple more 5K races in September and October, and I can’t wait to see where running will take me, literally and figuratively. I’m 47 lbs. lighter than when I started, and a whole lot happier. Since I began in February, running has aided me in meeting other people, bringing me closer to others I already knew, and has helped me discover a confidence I never knew I had. I think more in depth about how I treat my body and myself, and I hope that I’m showing my girls not only the benefits of exercise, but also the art of crushing self-doubt. Because it can be done—slowly, sure—and some days much more slowly than others—but each one of us is capable of taking that next step. Take it from a former couch potato: the view from off the couch is a whole lot better.