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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Race

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photo from runalong.se

For the first time in almost 20 years I am going to run a 5K.

The last time I did this was in late May of 1990 as an almost graduated, 18-year-old senior on the varsity cross country team. It was our city's annual Armed Forces Day run and I easily took first place in my division.

A lot of things have changed since then. I went to college, got married, had 9 kids... the list is endless. Time was one of the greatest factors in my lack of exercise, but beyond even that is the fact that I have gotten older and less invincible. That can be a pretty tough pill to swallow.

When my oldest 2 kids started running cross country the bug started to gnaw at me again. Running used to be such a big part of my life and although it brought me much happiness to see my kids enjoying something I used to love, I had the desire to join them. I knew I would not be as diligent about taking the time to get out and moving if I did not have a goal, so I found one, a local 5K on March 13th. I would run the whole 3.1 miles without stopping to walk.

I have tried since then to be diligent about running regularly. However, life continued to happen all about me. My running was sporadic; 4 days a week here, 2 days a week there, some weeks not at all. I worked my way up to running a full mile before needing to rest, but it is too late to reach my goal. The date is suddenly upon me and I find myself unprepared.

I initially had visions of friends and family cheering me on or even running with me, but as the date came closer I stopped talking about it. I knew I would not reach my goal and I do not like to fail. I decided that I wanted to face my failure alone.

Here is where I learned a valuable lesson. It is a good thing to have a goal but it is not always an indicator of failure if we do not reach it.

When I told my husband, Allen, that I didn't want him to run with me he told me that he was still going to. Same with my little brother, Chip. They wanted to be a part of this experience, to offer me support and encouragement when I needed it along the way. I realized quickly that arguing with them was futile. So I laid down some rules, hoping to dissuade them.

I told them both that I would not keep up with any pace they would set. They both agreed to keep pace with me. I told them that I would not be able to run the whole way and when I stopped to walk they should continue on without me. They let me know that they are running this race with me - not ahead of me, but beside me. I expressed my frustration with their being there to see me falling short of my goal.

"There will be other races to run the whole way," Chip told me. "There is nothing wrong with walking. If you know you finish having done your best, that will be good enough."

Such is life.

We are not meant to run this race alone. It is not always easy to allow others to run with us, encourage us when we falter or offer help when we become too weak to continue. However, it makes the race so much easier when we can let go of our pride or whatever it is that holds us back and allow others to run with us. We can't compare ourselves to any other runner, regardless of their speed or agility. We just have to be content with our own abilities and knowing that we've done the best we can when we cross the finish line.

For the first time in almost 20 years I am going to run (and I use that term loosely) a 5K.

My goal is to cross the finish line.

For now, that will be good enough.


Martha said...

Go Gerb! You can do it.

Michelle said...

You go girl! Don't forget about day of the race adrenaline. I know you'll be awesome!

--sorry I had to delete the previous. I don't know how to edit once posted.

Rachel said...

I'm dang proud of you. Proud of this whole post because this post describes my life right now to perfection and pretty much everyone elses.

Go out there Gerb and enjoy the moment. What a sweet husband and brother to be there with you along the way. This is very exciting indeed.

Lori said...

Gerb...what a wise, wonderful woman you are. You're just so stinking right about everything in this post--I have a hard time swallowing that same pill, and it's so tough when our minds can't make our bodies perform the way we envision them doing...

I'm writing this date down, and I'll be cheering you on from VA. Good luck.

Richard & Natalie said...

Wow. What a blessing to have such great supporters not only for your upcoming race, but for life in general.
You will be great, Gerb. I just know it.

Teachinfourth said...

So, did you want a photoshoot of the race? It could be awesome...

Farscaper said...

One lesson I have learned (in my old age) is that life is not "all or nothing". It's "do your best because it's the best you can do."

You go girl!!! I wish I was in shape enough to do something like that. Heck.. I'd take walking the whole way as an accomplishment!

Shannon said...

This totally hits home with me right now - not the running, but the falling short...the letting go of our pride...why is it so very difficult?

I'm sure you'll be brilliant in your accomplishment...walk, run or crawl - the point is that you are sticking to your commitment.

Gina said...

You go girl! Woohoo. Proud of you for any and all.

Anaise said...

There is so much power in what you have written here--I feel that I am a failure in so very many ways, and I struggle every single day to not get lost in that, to keep my chin up and keep going even though I'm not as good as I want to be.

Have a great run! I'm rooting for you.

PMC said...

i really love this post. i have pondering over the idea that all any of us want is to be loved. but do we allow it? that is the question.

LauraB said...

Many a time I've come to the post-a-comment box after reading one of your posts, and found myself regretfully hitting the back button. I find it difficult to express the flurry of thought left in the wake of your words, your messages and your light. I'll resist reaching for that button this time.
I hope today was filled with the quiet triumph of continuing forward in all your imperfection, quickened by the influence of loved ones' unyielding support, and a joyous reflection of times you have run along with others on their chosen course.

Gerb said...

Thank you SO much everyone for all you have said here - for your encouragement and thoughts. The race was awesome. I ran, I walked, I crossed the finish line and photos were taken... all of which means I'll be blogging about it soon. But my point here is in letting you know that your support means the world to me. Thank you!

Just SO said...

Good luck!!! I've been reading about people running races everywhere...it makes me kind of, sort of want to run. If running could take place without causing me to sweat or serious damage to my body.

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