Monday, June 11, 2012
My first 5k was miserable. I had only been running for a week with the cross country team and had yet to successfully complete even one mile. I spent the ten minutes before the race started trying to find my coach to ask, "Should really try to do this? Couldn't I please wait until the next 5k?" Until suddenly I was shuttled onto the track and someone was shooting something and shouting "GO!"
Later they told me it was the hardest race course we'd experience all year. Brutal hills, brutal heat, lots of grass and gravel. But for me it was more than hard - it was impossible. I spent the last mile weeping. I walked almost the whole time. I felt fat and slow and stupid. My teammates ran back to cheer me on after they had finished, which made me cry even harder. I finished somewhere around 45 minutes, hot and sweaty and miserable.
The following races filled me with dread. Once I spent the three hour drive to an out-of-town race sobbing against the window. One 5k in particular I remember, because the car that was following the back of the race had to keep stopping to wait for me to crawl another few yards forward. Every time I had to walk the driver yelled out, "Come on! Run! You can do it!" I wanted to shoot him. Or myself.
All these experience go scrolling through my head as I ask myself WHY IN THE WORLD I signed up for a 5k this Saturday. But the fact remains: I did. I signed myself up, and now I have to run it.
But this time, the race is my choice. No coach is forcing me to run a race I'm not ready to run. I've trained for this. I've run 3 miles three or four times a week for a few weeks now. So I might be the last runner to lurch past the finish line, I can still choose to have a fabulous time. I can overwrite these ridiculously foolish memories with new, empowered experiences. I can make myself proud. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.