Lo and behold, an angel appeared and said, “Thou shalt be able to flop down on the grass, but not now….”
…no, wait. That was a hallucination that I had at about mile marker two of the Juvenille Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) 5K on Saturday, September 24, 2011. The 5K was held at the Lions Club park and the running trail led out of the park, down part of the Acorn Trail, and back on Lions Club Drive to the JDRF group, where cheerful people waited to clap for each and every person who walked, crawled, or drug themselves across the finish line.
All four of us from our core running team showed up on Saturday even though life has certainly thrown curve balls to each of us in the last four weeks leading up to the goal 5K. When we started this journey, my goal was not about how fast to finish or what place to finish, it was simply to finish the 5K and run the whole way…and I did both. My official time was 52 minutes and 49 seconds. I was the slowest in our running group by about 3 minutes. It was not a good time by any professional standards, but to me it was a huge accomplishment and has taught me a lot about my ability to persevere and finish what I start.
Each week, I’ve written you something from my point of view. This week, I’d like to share with you an email received from a member of our running team. I read this email several times and have to tell you…it’s one of the most meaningful few paragraphs ever written to me. This has been an amazing journey and you have been so gracious to share it with us…encouraging us through our ups and downs. Dana’s email is below and I hope it is as powerful to you as it is to me. P.S. You might want to have a tissue handy – it’s really that good.
I wanted to let you know how proud I am that we all showed up for the 5K. It seems that life made it challenging for each of us in the month approaching the run. We didn’t get to run as much as we wanted, but we all completed the 5K anyway. Whatever doubts or fears you may have had on Saturday morning, you stuck to the plan, put on your running shoes, and had a great performance. Take a moment to really appreciate the magnitude of what you have just done. Think back to Week1 Day1 of the Couch to 5K program. Do you remember how you felt and what you thought on that day? Do you remember how challenging those 60-second runs seemed? Do you remember what it was like when you did the first 3-minute run? The first 8-minute run? The first 20-minute run? Imagine how Week1 Day1 would have gone if the plan was a 50-minute run. How far you’ve come!!
A friend of mine was the last person to cross the finish line in a 10K race. Another friend of mine was a spectator at the event. My spectator friend said that she felt sorry for my running friend, and thought it must be really embarrassing to be the last one to finish. This mindset really infuriates me, because it completely misses the point of running. No matter how fast or how long you are able to run or how many runners are behind you at the finish line, your greatest accomplishment is that you have become a runner. Your greatest accomplishment is the mileage on your shoes before you step up to the starting line. It’s about making running a regular part of your life and choosing to do something every week that will make you better at navigating life in the years to come. One day, you will be the 70-year-old who passes the younger runners, the 80-year-old who amazes your doctor, or the 90-year-old who has managed to evade the diabetic or cardiovascular problems that your family members have gotten. When you line up at the starting line, you are in the midst of successes. Runners are miles ahead of spectators, so never lose sight of the success that you are.
I am grateful to have met you during the Couch to 5K. I hope that our group will continue, even though our running goals will become more individualized. Susan and I have decided to meet at 6:00 instead of 7:00 because it gets dark earlier now. I don’t know what we will do when we set the clocks back. Speaking of setting the clocks back, November 6th is World Run Day. You can find information about it at www.runday.com. I think it would be a great motivation for me if we could all get together for a run that day.
See you at The Trail,
Thank you again for sharing this journey with us! Congratulations to all of you who have started a similar journey and we look forward to seeing you out there, as we all give it our best effort!
Go forth & conquer!