In keeping with the theme of August around here, which seems to have been all things Olympic, six weeks ago I decided to take up my own “Olympic” challenge – to begin training for and run a 5k “race.” Seeing as there were no local 5k’s scheduled, I decided I’d just make my own…to be run on the treadmill at the gym. Yes, I know that the air outside was good enough for the Olympic athletes to breathe…but they were only here for a month. Since I live here and value the long-term health of my lungs, I decided to stick to the indoor running for now, but to try and tackle a longer distance than I had previously ever run. I had run more than 5k (3.1 miles) distance wise, but always with some (more than a few) walking breaks in the middle of it. So the goal was to run 5k without stopping…and, if possible, in under 25 minutes.
I’ve never been a runner…I took it up a few years back, just to see if I could “learn how” to run or at least learn how to not HATE running. I got up to distances of about 2 miles…though not loving it, I at least learned to tolerate it (and love the feeling AFTER the run). Then we graduated, moved away from the school’s gym that we always used, and then came to Asia…which meant that when we joined the gym in February, it had been at least 2.5 years since I had run at all. It was much easier to pick back up than I thought it would be…so I’d already been running several times a week when I decided to challenge myself to this treadmill 5k.
I was inspired by my friend Ruth…a mom of three kids who will hit 40 this year, and is in the middle of training for her first marathon (26 miles). She already ran a half marathon on July 4th this year. As I started to think about my running, it seemed like if she could run for that long, I surely could try to do a 5k!!! Then I decided to try a 5k, with the goal of doing a 10K eventually (now scheduled for November). So the training began. And as I trained, I told Ruth about it and she decided she would run it with me but in Texas.
And then I told my friend Nicole about it…and she decided she would also run it with me, but in Washington. And thus, our Cross-World 5k Run was born!!! It was so encouraging to know that I had friends in other places training and planning to run with me. We planned to try and run it at the exact same time…but that’s kind of difficult to coordinate due to both time differences and to the general unpredictability of life, especially for Ruth and Nicole, who are both mothers. As proof of this unpredictability, one of Ruth’s kids came down with a stomach bug in the week of the “race”…and then passed it on to Ruth. In the end, we all ended up running it in the same 24-hour period, which counts as “at the same time” in my book.:D
Even though we all participated in this “race” the goal was not to compete against each other, but to race against ourselves…to challenge ourselves to run harder, faster, better…and to enjoy it! Nicole and Ruth really got into the spirit of it and made “race numbers” for themselves. While running, we all had our challenges to face…Nicole raced while dodging middle-school kids who were playing football ON the track. Ruth, still in recovery from the stomach flu, had little energy with which to race. I, being a little nervous and excited about my first “race”, overestimated my beginning pace and went a little too fast…which meant that I hit a wall at about 2.5 miles and felt like I was going to throw up and pass out if I didn’t slow down a bit. But we all made it…and I can honestly say that I really enjoyed it for the first 2.5 miles. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt that way before about running…and definitely not for that long.
I reveled in the feeling of how natural it felt to run, and felt my heart resonate to the the lyrics of “Dare You to Move” by Switchfoot. “I dare you to move…like today never happened before.” And I felt bold and proud…that I had dared myself to move and to take on this challenge…and that today, on this new day that had never happened before, I was both living out that dare and enjoying the results of it.
Now…none of of us are in the league of the Olympic 5k ladies, but then again…almost nobody is in their league. Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia ran the 5k in 15:41.40 in Beijing this year, which is pretty darned impressive. That’s a 5 minute 3 second mile pace!!! But we all did really well….Nicole finished in 27:12, Ruth in 30:28, and I finished in 25 minutes even. I am so proud of us all, for taking up the challenge and for finishing it (even with the flu and football players on the running track!!!), and am especially thankful that I have the kind of friends who are willing to both encourage me in this kind of challenge and participate in it themselves!