Last year I decided to follow up on a long term goal. I wanted to fully run or jog a 5K. This may not seem like much, but I set the goal when I was 130 pounds OVER a healthy weight. And I had stopped running.
When I left the military in 1992, running became something “they” did — those fit people. I no longer ran, and, after having a first child in 1996 overseas, I wasn’t very good at walking much either.
Flash forward to 2015. I finally, after many stops and starts, took off over 90 pounds. I had energy, I had confidence. Time to work on that 5K goal. A few stops and starts later, in early 2019, I signed up for a 5K in Sactown — Run with the Cops. It looked like a fundraiser for causes that I respected. K-9 officers and Law Enforcement Chaplaincy. After living through a few traumatic events where law enforcement was a saving grace, I have an extraordinary respect for first responders and those who provide comfort during critical incidents and afterwards.
I had good intentions in the summer of 2019. I started running in the early mornings at the local elementary. I would run in circles on the blacktop. Then the school janitor would show up and stand at the edge of the playground. I felt like he was watching me. Creepy.
I tried running elsewhere, but my motivation fizzled.
Then, it was Race Day. Loads of folks showed up in Old Sacramento. Law enforcement, K-9s, military, and veterans. The event was next to the OES’s emergency preparedness day–another topic close to my heart.
I was excited to participate, but I had some concerns. I hadn’t really trained. I wasn’t well-hydrated. I just put on my shoes and the race shirt, and showed up. A loud flash of the starting gun and we were off!
The first, say, hundred yards were fine. Then I felt a little tightness in my chest. Time to slow down. The next two miles were me talking myself through this race I hadn’t trained for. Part of the race included a police helicopter overhead. At one point I told myself, “Good thing they’re up there–” If I dropped suddenly, they’d see me.
I did finish the race, but I hadn’t run the whole way. I walked, I jogged, I tried to sprint occasionally. I felt like I was going to die. More than once.
But I didn’t. (Laura: “But did you die?” Me: “No Laura, I didn’t. I made it–”)
Shortly after that run, I realized that if I ever wanted to achieve my 5K goal, I’d need to train. So I joined a training group at Elk Grove Fleet Feet. “No Boundaries” it was called. I definitely knew where my boundaries were. They stopped me, usually, about a mile in.
Running got easier.
I participated in the Holiday Classic in Sacramento. I hadn’t yet achieved a straight through run, but I did achieve a PR, and I never felt like I couldn’t finish or that I’d need a med evac.
I signed up for another round of Fleet Feet training. We were prepping for the March 14 Shamrockin’ event here in Sac. I was excited. I felt good and 3.1 miles didn’t seem so long anymore. Granted, I ran a slow mile compared to my younger days, but remember, for nearly 20 years I couldn’t run at all. There was progress.
Then, just before Shamrockin’ we got shut down. ‘Rona was in town. She took two parishioners in my neighborhood. Some of the folks in my training crew decided to run anyway. We made our own party.
Training was cancelled. Showing up at the office was cancelled. Stay home, stay home, stay home was the new mantra of the city, the state, and the nation.
So I complied. A ran a little here and there. Then we had a rainy, stormy weekend. And I stayed in. For nearly two weeks I barely emerged from the house. I sat indoors, watching the news, and spending inordinately large amounts of time on social media.
Finally, with a nudge from some of my new training friends, I got back outside.
It hurt. My knees hurt. My stamina was reduced. My pride hurt. What was easy before ‘Rona became challenging again.
For a week or so it was hit or miss. Then my oldest kid started making her brother get up and run. I decided to go with them. I piggybacked on her drive and enthusiasm.
Get up, lace up, and go. No excuses. I’ve been on a running stream the last few days, and we even cross trained by bike last Sunday.
It feels good. Training is still cancelled. The local 5Ks are cancelled. I’m not sure the Run with the Cops 5K will go as planned in September. I hope so, because I want to be there. And I think I can run the whole thing.
But only if I keep at it, now. One day at a time, I can do this.
I can do it, with or without a class. With or without an organized event. The act of lacing up and showing up gives me strength and hope. And confidence, too. I’ve come a long way, baby.