I'm giving a speech this weekend to my Toastmasters club but thought i would share it here too as it seems relevant. Please let me know if there is anything I should change. Thanks for feedback.
I like to think of myself as a runner. I'm sure people who are actual runners would laugh at that as I'm a bit slow… power walkers sometimes pass me. Yet still, I think of myself as a runner. In my head I'm graceful, sleek, and quick. Like an Olympic athlete. In reality I look like a spaze. Running gives me a nice quite time to reflect. I think my running is a good representation of my life. Again in my head, I'm graceful, organized, composed, confident and inspirational but in reality a complete spaze, clumsy, chaotic, scatter brained, insecure, fragile and sometimes a complete mess.
Before the start of 2012 I decided i needed a fitness goal. I needed something to aim for. Something that when the end of the year came, i could say I accomplished SOMETHING. Something I could be proud of. Particularly since 2011 was coming to a close leaving me to wonder where it had gone and what I'd done with the year.
I decided to take on the ambitious goal of participating in 1 5K each month for the year. For some people it may not seem like much, it's only 37.2 miles. For me, it was a challenge. I was going to start the year off right. On New Years Day I was going to begin my journey. The morning of the first arrived, I rolled out of bed, lucky that I live in Colorado and the weather on new years day was lovely… ok it was January so it was cold, but not too cold, and the race came with free gloves! I finished the first 5K in just over 46 minutes. This wasn't bad considering I was just starting and i've never been a runner. My year started out the same way, slow and steady.
My year continued to mimic my running. I searched for races to run while I searched for an unknown element missing from my life. A growing void that had gone unnoticed for too long. Running was something selfish, that I did just for me. It gave me a chance to run away from home, from work, from my laptop, if only for an hour. It was a reminder that I need to take care of myself or I can't take care of others. While I was running, I felt great... maybe not always. Some days I ached so much It hurt to get out of bed. I hurt in places I didn't even know could hurt, both physically and emotionally. There were times that it snowed and I was cold wet and miserable! My shoes were beginning to pinch my toes a bit the longer I ran. I wasn't sure how much longer i would make it.
Second wind. I grew stronger with each race, not always having a better finishing time but each race felt better...Some had great breakfasts at the finish line. Some races had prizes. I made a new friend who gave me motivation I didn't even know i needed, a new outlook, and new running shoes. Running kept feeling better. Soon my Sunday training runs went from being 3 miles to 4...5...6... That's where it ended, after all i still had stuff I needed to get done. The year continued as did the races. Sometimes I did the races with friends, which was a nice reminder that I don't have to do everything alone. Some races there was that one lady that i would secretly compete against. Mostly I ran alone, giving me time to think and reflect. Things were moving along nicely.
I hit a wall in November. Someone pinched my shoes... Which forced me back into the shoes that pinched my toes. I was registered for the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot… a 4 mile race! I had a bruised heal and a bruised ego. It hurt to walk. It hurt to get out of bed physically and mentally. But each day I got up and I ran and I felt better… ok, my heal not so much. I made it through that race too. My best friend sent a message congratulating me on my run… and scolding me for running with a bad foot. I went home to ice. I took it easy for a few days allowing myself time to heal... But not too long, I had one more race to run.
Finally i made it to December… my last race for the year. I laced up my second pair of new shoes, ready for this run. I finished the race with a personal best time of 31 minutes and 33 seconds.14.5 minutes faster and 16 pounds lighter than my first race. I can look back on my year, proud of what i've done.
Life is like a race - if you take it too fast you'll burn out before the finish line, too slow and you'll miss all the good stuff. Sometimes you run with someone, sometimes you run against someone, sometimes you run alone. Sometimes there's obstacles, detours and unforeseen challenges Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes you don't think you can take one more step, but you have to keep going because only those who try, can make it to the finish line.