Running. It’s never been a favorite activity. I have always preferred group fitness classes with music, people, camaraderie, and energy that inspire me to do my best. Running, in my opinion, is monotonous, boring, and hard. And yet this February I embarked on a new running program — something I never thought I would do.
The signs went up at the end of January. I was already in a funk, upset about a March due date that would remind me of the baby we lost. I needed a goal. I needed something that would take me out of my head completely. I needed to give birth to something, even if that something was the idea of me crossing a finish line.
There were two events to train for: a half marathon or 10k. Although I thought I could handle the half aerobically, I wanted to be kind to myself. I didn’t want to be pushing so hard for a goal. (Been there, done that birthing Big Girl.) I wanted it to be as joyful and simple as my labor with Little Girl. It was decided. I would train for the 10k.
The first day I ran was tough. I went outside all by myself and just started running. It was not pretty. I sucked wind. I hated it. I questioned my ability to run two miles much less 6.2. I couldn’t understand why it was so hard given my daily exercise regimen. And yet I decided to reserve judgment until my first group run. Maybe I was doing something wrong. I’m so glad I did.
It was a beautiful 48 degrees on that March morning. I got to the local preserve and was happy to see that the 10k group was comprised of eight people of different ages, sizes, abilities, and shapes. Our trainer told us to start out easy, so we started running the same way a baby starts walking: one step at a time nice and slow. Still, I was really nervous. Was it going to be too hard? Would I be sucking wind, counting the minutes until we hit our goal that day? (A two mile run in the preserve.) I didn’t and wasn’t. Running with a group meant we were moving at a slower pace than what I had done on my own. It was relaxing and surprisingly fun. I got a rush of adrenaline when we hit the one mile marker and turned around. I was completely glowing by the time we got back to our starting mark.
In the months that have followed I have run farther and faster than I ever expected to run. I went out and bought gear — new sneakers, a water belt, and a new hat. I have been sore in places I never expected to hurt. (Why didn’t anyone tell me my obliques would hurt after running?) I have surprised myself, too. My legs don’t ache as much as I expected, and I’m stronger than I expected. So far, running isn’t living up to any of my preconceived notions about it.
My original due date passed in March. I was very sad. I cried. I still cry every once in a while when I see a swelling belly or a newborn sitting in a carriage. But the promise of my new due date — the date that I will cross that 10k finish line — pulls me back from the brink of despair. I remember my strength. I remember the joy I feel as my body moves through the air. I picture myself crossing that finish line in May. And since everyone can use a new goal in life, I signed up for another race. It’s a November half marathon.