I hate running. I have for as long as I remember. I only ran when I absolutely HAD to. In gym class. In basic training, during which I injured my knee which I’d already had a surgery on, making it even worse. And then, for my job.
And I’ve hated every step.
My battle buddy in basic training was (and still is) a runner, and through her I was introduced to a website that hosts “virtual” running events. “Run or walk wherever you want, then post your time!” is about what they say, and after seeing several different races advertised, I saw one I decided I needed to do, for my niece. The Autism Awareness 5K. I did a quick calculation and decided it was doable, even though it’s a little more than twice the longest distance that I had run in recent years. But hey…it said I could walk too, and there’s no one else around who would judge me for doing so.
I signed up for it, and one day I took my hour of PT at work and decided, tonight was it. I was gonna do this. And I did. I ran and walked then ran again, over and over until I reached that 5K mark. 36:09.
I can’t even begin to describe the extent of the emotions that I felt upon completing it. After my ACL surgeries, I always felt that I would be limited by my knee, but here I had completed a 5K. And I was hooked.
Less than three weeks later I signed up for two more. I ran that second one the same day I signed up, then the other one four days later. Soon as I was done I was looking for more. Two days later I heard about a live, local race on the radio—the Jersey Mike 5K. I brought it up to Dylan that same night to make sure it wouldn’t interfere with any plans he’d been making for our weekend. I registered the next day.
The race was this last Saturday, the 18th, and I was a bundle of nerves and excitement. Dylan and Nancy came with to cheer me on in my first live race. I checked in, pinned my number to my shirt, stretched, and got my knee brace on.
It was an entirely different experience than running it in the night at the end of my shift, with no one around. And that day was hot. It’s funny how much of a difference the heat can make, especially when I felt that I wasn’t as hydrated as I should’ve been. The amount of people I know slowed me down as well. Probably the first half km was stuck in the crowd (I had started near the back of the pack). While I did have to slow to a walk intermittently, I managed to go about 1.5km before I started that.
Around the island, across the bridge, alongside the river, up the hill to the turnaround point, and back again. Coming back across the bridge, approaching the finish line I sped up, going as fast as my lil legs could go. I finished just under 38min.
To be honest, I’m still a lil disappointed that I didn’t finish quicker, but that has got me looking for another chance. I’ve already signed up for two more virtuals, with thoughts of another live race this fall. With work, I’ll finish that one quicker, and my goal is to run the whole thing without walking. And maybe by next year, I’ll be ready for my first 10K.
I still hate running, and even though I’m not fast, I love to race. But hey, there are definitely worse addictions to be had.