As I sprinted with all my might, I saw the finish line come into view. People had gathered on both sides and were cheering me on. I can’t let them down. I have it in me.
You’re a bum, Rocky.
A few weeks before the 5K, I was still training by interval running about 2 miles during the week and 3 miles on Saturdays. These runs, however, were getting worse. I was coughing and my chest burned like fire. After a month of telling myself that I would get over it, I had had enough.
Going to the doctor, I was convinced my allergies were causing all this trauma. With the Covenant Health Knoxville 5K looming, I needed something to help me clear my airways fast. After explaining my symptoms, my doctor speculated that I may have exercise-induced asthma & allergies.
I was slightly stunned. I assumed exercise was aggravating my allergies but asthma? Really? So, I went home with a prescription for an inhaler and some allergy medication, and I prayed that this would all go well.
I was discouraged about my health. It seems like as much as I pushed forward to better my stamina, body and overall health, I always had something holding me back. All this negativity swelled inside of me waiting for a ripe time to burst. Unfortunately, it was during the 5K.
Run Forrest, run!
The Covenant Health 5K was on Saturday, April 1 — April Fool’s Day. That seemed appropriate because I kept thinking I was a fool for signing up for this 5K. I had the Super Run 5K the following Saturday on April 8. What fool signs up for back-to-back weekend 5Ks?
I invited my Mom and Dad to be a part of this exciting moment — my first 5K. They have been with me through so many important events in my life, and I really wanted them to share this joy with me. Thankfully, they were free to visit. I was nervous the whole day, but they helped take some of the edge off with their humor and encouragement.
We watched the Kids Fun Run, and I was able to get an idea of how I thought the 5K would be mapped. Justin had said that the this course was hilly, so I mentally prepared myself while I stretched.
Before the start of the race, Mom and Dad shuffled off to Neyland Stadium where the finish line was located. Justin and I went to line up at our section. As the gun fired, excitement and chaos ensued. I weaved past so many walkers, secretly envious that they started up this immediate hill by walking. I tried to keep up with Justin as best as I could, but that burning in my chest was red hot even with the pre-run inhaler puffs. I had to start walking.
This is when all that negativity poured out of me. I was on the verge of tears. I apologized to Justin about making us walk instead of run when we clearly had agreed to do intervals. I felt like I let him down as much as myself. Justin was a huge support, however. He reminded me that this was my race, not his. Also, he looked at his Runtastic app and it showed that I had just ran at a 13 min/mi pace! I had been averaging around a 16-17 min/mi pace while training. That was definitely the confidence boost I needed.
Still, I couldn’t breathe. I was burning so much in my chest, I thought I might be having an actual medical emergency. We walked for quite a while. As we passed a water station and I downed a cup, my chest eased a bit. Finally, I suggested to Justin that we run all the downhills and walk all the uphills. With a new plan in place, it was on.
At one point in the race, we had to make a big U-turn and run up a hill that we just finished running down. It was at this moment that I snapped back into reality. I saw all the people I was ahead of, and it really put things into perspective for me. I was here for me.
Before we went into Neyland Stadium, I told Justin that I wanted us to do a full sprint across the finish line. With my last burst of speed, I gave it my all. It felt incredible, and even though I felt my leg liner slipping down making my knee cramp, I kept going.
My goal time was 45 minutes. While I didn’t hit that, I came close. My official chip time was 49:44. My pace time was 16:03 mi/min. I placed 1493 out of 3350. Not bad for my first 5K. I think this flying fool made Gandalf proud.
Justin was so happy for me. In fact, he wrote a pretty incredible blog post about the race and my fitness journey. It just meant so much to me to cross that finish line with him. My partner through thick and thin, and I’m so thankful.
Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
Still reeling from the Covenant Health 5K, I geared up for the Super Run 5K the following Saturday. We picked up our packets and capes and made sure our outfits were ready for the early morning run.
We rolled up to Victor Ashe Park and saw all sorts of people dressed in their superhero or supervillain attire. Weirdly enough, it was exciting and motivating. I would be running as an Aquabat with a bunch of motivated geeks and fans who also have trained in their tutus and masks for this moment.
As the race began, Justin and I kept a pretty decent pace. Then the coughing and burning began again. So, I took it easy and tried to maintain some interval running throughout. I really didn’t think I was doing well on this run, though. I was just tired and my lungs were over my healthy new habit.
I tried to keep my mind off my aches and focused on all the young kids with their parents running in their costumes. I love that they were all motivating each other. That’s what superheroes do. I looked at Justin dressed in his Thor outfit and was overwhelmingly glad he was (and is) my superhero.
The race seemed endless, but I finally saw the finish line in the distance. As in the previous race, I was determined to sprint the final bit. As I ran, there were so many people on both sides of railing that were cheering me on. I know they have no idea who I am, but I was filled with so much inspiration from that. I really felt like a superhero. People were depending on me to save the day. I’ve got this.
Again, I surprised myself. I didn’t make my goal of 45 minutes, but I came even closer. My time was 47:12.
Just don’t die.
Running has been an emotional rollercoaster for me.
- I push myself harder.
- I’m more capable than I think.
- I can rise above my weaknesses/setbacks.
- I am a superhero.
I tend to forget all of those important points when I run. My main thought is “don’t die.” So far, I’ve nailed that goal, which means I need to set a new one. That said, my current goal when running is to remember those 4 points above instead of focusing on the pain and negativity. Dwelling on what I can’t change has never helped. If I plan to live a long life with running, I need to make sure I enjoy it.
In closing, when you feel like you can’t overcome an obstacle or something seems way too difficult, just remember this: Don’t let anything hold you back. You are more capable than you think. I’m living proof. You are a superhero, too.