Since I started playing organized sports, I hated running. When I played softball, we ran when we got in trouble. When I played basketball, we ran for conditioning, and when we got in trouble. In track, we ran because that’s the basis of track and field.
Despite hating to run, I joined track so that I could miss school every week with my friends when we had meets out of town. It was a good trade. I missed school, won medals, and had a six-pack. All I had to do was run.
Once my days of athletics were over my sophomore year in college when I stopped playing softball (we were still running when we got in trouble) I was finally free. Finally free of running, of consequences, and I was also freed of my six pack.
For years I knew what I had done to make my body so perfect, but I refused to do it. “I hate running. Running is stupid. I’m not a runner.” I want to slap myself across the face for having that mentality for so long.
I might as well said, “I’m lazy. Work is hard. I don’t care about my health or my body.”
After getting a bit of courage and running steadily since the end of December I finally took my training to my first 5k. The Reach out and Run 5k was set in beautiful Chaffee Crossing, and hosted by the Junior League of Fort Smith. It’s their second annual race, with the proceeds benefitting the Aging Out of Foster Care. The Vibe was also there playing music. It was a great turnout, with a variety of ages. We could have even brought our dog out.
The whole time I had this plan in my head to keep my husband in sight in front of me so that I kept a strong pace, and if I had the energy at the end, I would attempt to sprint past him. He doesn’t run regularly, but runs pretty fast. I know it will be a tough workout.
Every tough workout needs a tough playlist. Not just any playlist, but one where every song should be played at the climax of an action movie. I had to dig deep into my tortured soul for this one. I pulled together a playlist that featured the likes of the Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Limp Bizkit (oh yes, I did) and the fighting songs from Kill Bill. I WAS READY.
Before the race I had butterflies. I was so nervous. I hate that despite the fact that I can run the distance I was already preparing myself for a bad run. I’m still working on thinking positively. It’s okay to be confident and proud sometimes.
Once the gun went off, I was in the zone. My plan to stay behind my husband dissolved when he broke out into what I call a showoff sprint, but I kept a great pace, running a 9-minute mile, and finishing in 32.45, a personal best!
It went by faster than I thought it would. It took me a while to recover, because I ran so much harder than I would have on a treadmill, plus there were people around to keep a pace with. What I liked the most about running a race outside was that I actually ran at a good pace. It’s not as easy to do on the treadmill because I still have the fear of falling if I run too fast. I would be lying if I said I ran the whole thing, I actually walked a total time of a minute and a half. To think, if I hadn’t stopped I may have had an even faster time.
I will most definitely compete again. It’s liberating to do something that I spent years saying that I wouldn’t or couldn’t do. I’ll take that as a personal victory, Shannon, 1, Shannon’s perceived limitations, 0. Since I’m becoming such a diligent runner, maybe my 6-pack might come crawling back. I would accept it with open arms.
If you would like to participate in a 5k but need help getting started, check out the Couch to 5k workout. It’s available as an app, and online at www.coolrunning.com. If you are looking for a 5k to run, visit www.arkansasrunner.com for a list of dates and locations hosting runs across the state.