Sunday, July 26, 2015

One step at a time

My first experience with running was in High School.  I joined the track team in the spring of my freshman year 1985. There was no try out, they took everyone.  My first year,  the coach had no idea what to do with me.  Eventually, my event became the mile.  Being put into the mile run is the equivalent of being put into the chorus of the school play, both are places where you put the kids that you don't know what else to do with.  I was always in the chorus.

The girls that placed in the mile were running 5 minute miles.  I started out in the 8 minute range where I fought not to be last.  Knowing that I had no chance of ever placing in a race, my personal goal became to break 7 minutes and not be lapped by the fast girls.  I slowly chipped away at my time.  Each race, I would pick up the pace a little bit more and eventually... I broke into the 6 minute range.  My fastest time was just a few seconds less than 7 minutes!  I was pretty proud of myself.

Over the years, I've tried unsuccessfully to become a runner again.  During each attempt, I would quickly and easily get discouraged and quit.  Walking became my exercise of choice.   (Walking really is great exercise!)

My husband has always been a runner.  He runs on the weekends and any chance he gets on vacation days.  He would love to run more but he just doesn't have time during the work week.  Last July, we were having dinner one night when he announced that he wanted to run The Blessing of the Fleet... the next day!  It's a local 10 mile race.  He normally runs 2-3 miles.  I smiled and said "OK, Sure! Yes, I'll go register you and pick up your race number tomorrow morning."  Inside my mind though, I thought that he was nuts.

The next night, my daughter and I went to cheer him on.  The race starts at 6:00pm and attracts about 3000 runners and walkers.  As we waited for my husband by the finish line, I watched, as beautiful, in shape, young, hot bodies crossed the finish line.  I stood there feeling old and terribly out of shape. Then, something happened, all of the average looking people, young and old started to cross the line.  People that didn't look like the cover of a fitness magazine were finishing the race.  My husband crossed the line smiling, looking great.  He did great!  He was confident that he could do it and he did.  I noticed how happy everyone was when they finished.  I stood there wishing that I could run like I used to and I decided at that moment that I would make it a goal.

At first, I just wanted to be comfortable running a few miles.  I started out REALLY slow.  I would warm up by walking first and then running just one mile. That's it, one mile. I found a pace that works for me (slow) and I stuck to it.  In just a couple of weeks, the mile was so easy that I actually WANTED to run more than a mile and I tried for 3.  After a couple of months I was giddy, feeling like I had cracked a secret code for how to run and actually enjoy it!  Patience, that's the key!  I would look forward to the chance to get out and run with enthusiasm.  I very gradually started to increase my miles and on New Year's Day I ran 6 miles for the first time in 30 years!  That was the day that I decided to make a new goal.  I wanted to run The 2015 Blessing of the Fleet with my husband.

I marked my calendar for Friday, July 24th.

Last Friday, we did it!  I loved every minute of it.  It was a beautiful night (except for a downpour and some lightning during miles 5-7).  Aside from the lightning, the air was also electric from all of the runners!  The energy from everyone was contagious.  I loved the sound of all of the feet hitting the pavement, the thousands of heads bobbing up and down for as far as I could see.  All of the people that lined the route to cheer were amazing too!  Mostly though, I felt so much pride in accomplishing my goal and I was so happy to be able to run with my husband.  He kept me calm and made it all fun.  We hope to run the race every year now.

So... Why a post about running on a design blog?  I simply hope that I can inspire someone.  I want someone else to feel as happy and as proud as I felt running over the finish line.  If there is something that you have been wanting to try, set a goal and go for it.  One step at a time.  Don't worry about how long it will take either.  Have patience.  Sometimes, getting there is half the fun and going slow allows you to take in more of the experience.

10 miles.  1:43:00 was our final time.  I'm still smiling.

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