I’m sitting here at my desk, reflecting on the day, and I am so thankful for so many things. Thanksgiving this year started with something I never would have dreamed of doing a year ago… running a 5k through Kereiakes Park. The first 5k I ever attempted was supposed to be at Kereiakes, but there was a race going on that day, so we had to find another park. I’m thankful that we did, because Kereiakes would have been WAY too hilly for me to have ran my first 5k on and probably would only have served to depress and discourage me. :)
But today, it was AMAZING. Thanks to Manuela, who volunteered to watch some of the kids for us, Jon and I were able to run it together, and the older girls ran/walked the 2k with Nana just before our race started. It was the first time Jon and I have ever run together, and that alone made it special.
The other thing that made it special was the sense of sheer accomplishment I felt after that run was over. According to my watch, I hit the three mile mark with a time of 34:39 which is, if not my best time on a 3 mile run ever (the only information I have about my best time is that it took 34 minutes… I didn’t bother with recording seconds, but I’ll know better next time!) it was definitely my best time on a course so riddled with steep hills. It was also the first time I’ve ever run a race full-out.
We started the race about 50 yards behind everyone else, because I wanted to make sure to see the girls cross the finish line (and take a few pictures!), so although I wasn’t running at a dead sprint in the start, I was definitely going MUCH faster than I usually do at the start of a race, in order to catch up (and I paid for it right around the 2 mile mark!) But I have to admit, it was awfully fun to start from behind like that and go flying past about 50 people or so. :)
And (I love to start sentences with conjunctions. Even better if I can start a paragraph that way) the hills were fantastic! My favorite hills are definitely steep and short, and this course was full of them. There was one hill that almost brought me to my knees (or at least, slowed me to a walk,) and that was just before the 2 mile mark when my fast start caught up with me. I grabbed Jon’s hand, and between him pulling/pushing me and cheering me on, I made it up that hill and onto another flat stretch that enabled me to catch my breath before we had to do it all over again. All the rest of the hills, though, were just plain FUN. And when it came time to run down them, I could let loose and go full out and even though I was going fast (my fastest pace was 7:50… again, we’re talking about my personal definition of “fast” here,) my breathing was effortless and my legs felt awesome. That was a wonderful feeling. I’d definitely like to run that course again… but not for anything more than a 5k. :)
I was pretty nervous about my feet… against my better judgement (or, rather, in favor of my better judgement but against the advice of those who are supposed to know these things), I ran with my vibrams although the farthest I’d run in them up till today was a mile, and I’ve walked/run in them for only two. But although my calves are pretty tight and my feet are a little sore (my heels… apparently I’m still heel striking a bit in the vibrams, which tells me I need to spend more time running completely barefoot), in all I feel great. And the experience of running – and running fast (I don’t think I need to clarify my use of the term “fast” for anyone, anymore, do I?) – in them was absolutely worth it. Besides, had I worn my other shoes I’d still be hurting, just in different places.
I have to admit, though, that run made me nervous. Maybe it’s because it was the first race I’ve been in where I tried for speed rather than distance. Maybe it’s because it’s the first time I’ve come so close to walking during a race (oh, that hill!!!) Maybe it’s because it was the first time I’ve had a cardiovascular challenge of that magnitude during a run before. But I’m reminding myself of something I said just a few days ago:
“Every accomplishment starts with one movement toward the goal, every goal achieved starts with a plan and dreams become realities when we start believing in ourselves and embrace the struggle that comes from taking one tiny step at a time. Failing, but not quitting, stumbling but getting back up to try again the next day.”
One day at a time. I can do that.
I can’t finish this post without at least mentioning the fact that a year ago, this day would have been all about stuffing myself full of everything I could and feeling miserable about the ridiculous amount of food I ate, feeling helpless and hopeless about my weight. What a huge contrast to this year. Thanksgiving day started with a run with my husband and children – my best run to date – followed by stuffing my self full of everything I could and feeling great about the fact that tomorrow I’ll wake up and run six miles with two wonderful friends and know that nothing is hopeless and absolutely anything is possible with God who has brought me through one of the most amazing years of my life.
For that, I’m very, very thankful.