I thought long and hard about how to start this particular post. Then I decided instead of starting at the beginning, I would start at the end and go from there:
This is me getting ready to cross the finish line of my first 10k that I ran last Saturday. My husband is taking this picture and I had just screamed at the top of my lungs “I DIDN’T STOP ONCE”. I am about to finish running 6.2 miles and I am smiling. The greatest thing about this race is not that I didn’t come in last (many people finished before me, some finished behind me), it’s also not that I finished faster than I anticipated (I guessed 1:20:00). The greatest thing about this race is I stepped up to that starting line. There are so many things in life that keep us from stepping up to the “starting line”. We don’t think we can do it. We’ve been told countless times we can’t do it. Maybe we’ve been in front of the starting line but fear kept us from taking that first step. Maybe we’ve taken that first step but one reason or another we didn’t get very far and soon after we found ourselves on the sidelines.
Are you ready to step up to your starting line?
Can I be totally honest with you right now? I almost didn’t want to do this race. I made the mistake of looking at the previous year’s times and comparing them to the one and only time I’ve run 6 miles (1:19:00). I began to doubt myself something fierce. I didn’t want to come in last. I started thinking about maybe just pretending to set my alarm and “accidentally” sleep through the race. I was scared to run in my vibrams and felt that if I ran in my regular running shoes I’d be pretty much just calling myself a pussy. I sat with these thoughts for a few minutes and then I remembered what I said to someone else just the day before who was getting ready to do her first 5k. She was scared about coming in last and about all the other people in the race. I told her not to think about the people doing the race but to think about all the people NOT doing the race.
I needed to follow my own advice.
It didn’t matter if I came in last. It didn’t matter what other people were doing. This was my race. This was about me and what I’ve done over the last 6+ months. I’ve been running just under 5 months and here I was trying to convince myself that sleeping through the alarm was the way to go. I had to stop worrying about what hadn’t happened and revel in what was happening. Come Saturday I was going to step up to the starting line and I was going to run.
It was awesome!
At every mile there was someone shouting your time to you. I’m used to doing a 12 minute mile outside. I wasn’t anticipating that I could keep up that pace for 6.2 miles. The first mile the person said 10:39. WHAT? Did he just say 10:39? I looked around to make sure there weren’t any other runners around that he might be directing that too. Nope, just me. Second mile the guy said 21:48…WHAT? Third = 32.56…That means I just beat my last 5k (37:00) by almost 4 minutes!! What the hell is going on here? At the 4th mile I turned off my iPod to make sure I was hearing the number correctly: 44:19. I was consistently running an 11 minute mile. At this point I’m not really pushing myself too hard. There were quite a few hills and I’m just trying to remember to put one foot in front of the other. I’m tired but not exhausted. I’ve got certain people in my cross hairs and working hard to lessen the gap between us. Mile 5 = 55:03. The last mile was before me and I knew I was going to finish and at this pace I was going to finish at least 10 minutes sooner than my last run. As I turned the corner to begin the last 1.2 miles I realized this was the hill we started on, only we ran down it. There was nothing but this hill and the finish line. I didn’t know coming down it was a mile in distance. I knew that now. The race quickly became about this hill and nothing else. I wanted to run the entire 6.2 miles. I didn’t want to walk once. I ran the first 5 miles and the only thing left between me and the finish line was this damn hill. The people in my cross hairs were walking. I pulled my cap way down. I tuned out and I ran. I didn’t think about the 11 minute pace any longer. I didn’t think about the people I was passing. I kept my sight a few feet in front of me and resolved to get to the top of the hill strong and then finish the race stronger.
I reached the top of the hill.
The people I paced myself with the entire race were behind me. There was nothing in front of me now except the last part of the race and crossing over that finish line. I had no idea what my time was. As I got closer to the finish line and could see the race clock I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. 1:08:23! All that self doubt. All that worry. Thinking the only way to could get over the fear was to not even try. I almost never even stepped up to the starting line. I was covered in sweat and snot (still perfecting the snot rocket), my legs hurt, and I was out of breath.
You know what else I was?
Can I tell you about a red box that has become a big part of my life in the last few days. I think a big reason I finished the race as strong as I did was because I thought about this red box quite a bit while running. I thought about a lot of things actually. I mean when you’re going to be running for over an hour you have lots of time for thoughts to come and go. I thought about my decision to stop counting calories during the weekend and the success I am having at not freaking out over my food choices. I thought about my friends that are one their own weight loss journey and how much I rely on their encouragement to keep me moving forward. I thought about what my life was like 7 months previous where I played a silly video game for hours upon hours thinking that was what I needed to keep me sane when in fact running on the present country road, on an island, with a number attached to my shirt and being outside was what I needed. I thought about not being on anti-depressants any longer. I thought about not being a drug addict and how lucky I was to survive that portion of my life. I thought about my brothers, my mother and how much I missed them. I thought about seeing my husband at the finish line and taking a long bath once this whole thing was over.
But mostly I thought about this box.
Last Thursday morning as I walked into the gym, the Godfather told me to grab it and put it in the middle of our work out area (which by the way is in front of everyone!). I set it out and he tells me I’m going to vertically jump this baby.
I’m pretty sure I’m not.
Here’s why I like the Godfather; it doesn’t matter what I think. I can say “no” all I want, all he hears is “yes”. I can say “I can’t” and what he hears is “I can”. Sometimes when you don’t believe in yourself, you only need one person to believe and before you know it:
A few posts back I was in a bad funk. Being fired from your job and gaining weight because of stress has a way of bringing the funk and plopping it right down in front of you. While venting I wrote the following sentence – “Every time someone says “you’re such an inspiration” I want to scream back at them “TO WHO, CAUSE I’M NOT INSPIRING MYSELF!!!” I was feeling sorry for myself. My friend Aaron wrote one of the most heart-felt replies that I go back and read on a daily basis. He also asked me point blank “Tara, who inspires you?”
I couldn’t let that question pass by without taking the time to write about who inspires me. I don’t even know where to begin. I feel like I’m going to miss someone or someone is going to feel left out if I don’t mention them so I won’t go into specifics but here is a glimpse at who inspires me.
- I have a friend that has started her own LCJ. She watched me for a few weeks and decided to take control of her own life. She asked me to do her first 5k with her a few weeks ago. She didn’t think she was going to run at all. We ran. I love her and think about her everyday. She inspires me.
- There is a woman at the gym that I see pretty regularly. She’s lost a lot of weight. She knows this is a long journey. She was doing the couch to 5k one day and we got to talking. I told her to move on from week 4 and trust her body. She was nervous. A few weeks later she not only moved on but was getting ready to finish the program. I see her sometimes in spin class and she kicks my ass on that damn bike. She never gives up. She inspires me.
- I met a woman not too long ago that was at the same triathlon meeting as I was. We happened to sit next to each other and she asked me if this was my first one. I said yes. We talked about how crazy it was that we were both thinking about doing a triathlon. She mentioned to me that she had lost 100 pounds in the last 10 months. I told her I lost 65 in six months. In that instant we shared something that probably no one else in the room shared. We were taking control of our lives and we were becoming the athletes we were meant to be. We understood the battle. In a room full of women we happened to sit next to each other and in a few short weeks we’ll be crossing the same finish line. She inspires me.
- I have friends that send me messages throughout the day asking me how I’m doing and how am I going to break a sweat that day. I don’t know them personally but I feel like I would go down fighting for their lives as much as I feel like I would for my own. They inspire me.
- I have a trainer that believes in me when I don’t believe in myself. When I am trying to do on my own what we do together I close my eyes and think about him standing above me with his hand out telling me to reach higher or standing in front of me saying “you want it, you earn it”. He inspires me.
- Pick a blog, any blog. Every word written. Every emotion felt. Every battle fought and lost only to be fought again and won. Every tear. Every triumph. Every mile run. Every pound lost and gained. You inspire me.