Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Race

photo from

For the first time in almost 20 years I am going to run a 5K.

The last time I did this was in late May of 1990 as an almost graduated, 18-year-old senior on the varsity cross country team. It was our city's annual Armed Forces Day run and I easily took first place in my division.

A lot of things have changed since then. I went to college, got married, had 9 kids... the list is endless. Time was one of the greatest factors in my lack of exercise, but beyond even that is the fact that I have gotten older and less invincible. That can be a pretty tough pill to swallow.

When my oldest 2 kids started running cross country the bug started to gnaw at me again. Running used to be such a big part of my life and although it brought me much happiness to see my kids enjoying something I used to love, I had the desire to join them. I knew I would not be as diligent about taking the time to get out and moving if I did not have a goal, so I found one, a local 5K on March 13th. I would run the whole 3.1 miles without stopping to walk.

I have tried since then to be diligent about running regularly. However, life continued to happen all about me. My running was sporadic; 4 days a week here, 2 days a week there, some weeks not at all. I worked my way up to running a full mile before needing to rest, but it is too late to reach my goal. The date is suddenly upon me and I find myself unprepared.

I initially had visions of friends and family cheering me on or even running with me, but as the date came closer I stopped talking about it. I knew I would not reach my goal and I do not like to fail. I decided that I wanted to face my failure alone.

Here is where I learned a valuable lesson. It is a good thing to have a goal but it is not always an indicator of failure if we do not reach it.

When I told my husband, Allen, that I didn't want him to run with me he told me that he was still going to. Same with my little brother, Chip. They wanted to be a part of this experience, to offer me support and encouragement when I needed it along the way. I realized quickly that arguing with them was futile. So I laid down some rules, hoping to dissuade them.

I told them both that I would not keep up with any pace they would set. They both agreed to keep pace with me. I told them that I would not be able to run the whole way and when I stopped to walk they should continue on without me. They let me know that they are running this race with me - not ahead of me, but beside me. I expressed my frustration with their being there to see me falling short of my goal.

"There will be other races to run the whole way," Chip told me. "There is nothing wrong with walking. If you know you finish having done your best, that will be good enough."

Such is life.

We are not meant to run this race alone. It is not always easy to allow others to run with us, encourage us when we falter or offer help when we become too weak to continue. However, it makes the race so much easier when we can let go of our pride or whatever it is that holds us back and allow others to run with us. We can't compare ourselves to any other runner, regardless of their speed or agility. We just have to be content with our own abilities and knowing that we've done the best we can when we cross the finish line.

For the first time in almost 20 years I am going to run (and I use that term loosely) a 5K.

My goal is to cross the finish line.

For now, that will be good enough.

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