Last November, a sweet girl that I had known mostly as an acquaintance approached me at a 5K race that I was volunteering with and asked me if I would be interested in joining her team to run a half marathon. I looked at her and smiled and nodded and asked the expected questions, but in my mind I was thinking, "Who does this girl think she's talking to? Doesn't she know I don't exercise? She must be crazy!" By the end of the conversation though, I thought, well, at least research it and give it a shot.
So, me being the excessive analyzer that I am, googled Team in Training. I looked at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's website. I read about what training for a half marathon might do to my poor fragile body. I was scared. But something deep down inside me (I have yet to figure out what it was) told me to buck up and sign the little piece of paper. It was an urge similar to when you want to open a door to see what's behind it, wondering if it could be something great or wondering if it will be something that will destroy you.
Lucky for me, it was something AMAZING. I completed my first half marathon with Team in Training, minor injury and all. The journey there was long, and sometimes I swear it seemed like the neverending song. But it was really like they said it would be. Worth it. That simple. People were generous to donate to this cause and I found inner strength I never knew I had. I was slow, though, and always was a little frustrated. I wanted to be faster, always trying to keep up. I constantly felt like the little engine that could. But, my goal was to finish and I did just that.
After the first half, I took two weeks off. Then my friend got very sick and passed away and I reverted into my comfort zone like a turtle in his shell. I quit running. Looking back, that was a stupid decision. When I decided to come back for the fall season with Team in Training as a team captain, I did it with the intention of other people experiencing the sheer amazingness of it. I wanted to see people feel the way I felt. The emotion, the accomplishment, the accountability, the elation. But with all that time off, I felt like I was starting from scratch.
I struggled in the beginning. I began to wonder if I had wrongfully taken a leadership position being that some on my team were faster than me. It got frustrating. I was constantly trying to keep up with people and ignoring my own body telling me enough. Last Sunday, I did the same when a few of my close friends ran with me. They're faster, and after the first mile or so I sent them on. I had to walk a bit to kind of catch my breath, but then the last 3.25 miles I ran. It was a slow run, but I ran every single step of it. I had never done that before. I realized I can go my own pace, and even though it's slow, that's okay. Tonight, I did another 3. Ran it all again. Next time, I'll go for 4. And I'll shoot to go a little faster. Is it a small accomplishment in the grand scheme of running? Yes. Is it a huge accomplishment for me? HECK YES!
The best thing about me finding this little "groove" is my fellow running friends celebrating with me. Even better is their constant encouragement every step of the way. Without them, I know I wouldn't be where I am now. I wouldn't have even this small accomplishment to celebrate, and I wouldn't have someone there pushing me to do a little better next time. My running friends understand it. They understand the soreness, the blisters, the chafing, and the frustration. At the same time, they understand how just a pat on the back or a high five can make a world of difference. I'm so very thankful for them. They have become fast friends who I can trust and depend on. I don't know what I would do without them. Running has become a social avenue for me and has opened up incredible opportunities which I intend on taking every advantage of.
So to that acquaintance who is now such an incredible friend, thank you. Because of you, I've found my groove, and I love you for that.