Let me tell you a secret. I used to hate running. I thought running was some sort of punishment. When I played softball in high school and we didn’t put much effort at practice our coaches made us take laps around the track. With tears stinging my eyes, I would curse every step that I took around that track. I used to think who wants to just get up and start running for fun? Not me. I thought people on the cross-country team were crazy and thought, I could never do that!
It wasn’t until 2009 that I started running. How? Why? I was influenced by my fave. As an avid (semi-retired) runner, he would tell me about how he would run the hilly streets of San Francisco everyday at night and sometimes in the rain. He would meticulously log in his miles and tell me about the feeling he got when he reached Ocean Beach and had to run back again. When he ran his first race, he told me how fun it was and how he kept up with someone who was almost half his age. I would listen in awe and used to think, “Wow, I wish I could do that! Maybe someday I will.”
I don’t know how I thought about doing my first 5K but I mentioned it to my fave one day and he encouraged me to do it. I found a race and signed up. It was official and there was no turning back. He offered to help me and soon became my “running coach”. At first, it was tough. I was out of shape, had zero running experience and didn’t know what I was doing. If you know me, I’m extremely stubborn so there were many times we fought. I mean, disagreed. I didn’t know it then but I knew that he just wanted to help and wanted me to do well. Through my training, he taught me how to pace myself, how to use my watch, that it was ok to take walking breaks and to not worry about coming in last. Beginning runners, you know what I’m talking about; the fear of coming in last! When I started running, I could barely run a mile! I thought how am I going to do three! Excuse me, three-point one. But through many days of hard work, lots of sweat and tears, I started to “like” it. I didn’t love it. Yet.
When race day arrived, I was nervous but didn’t want to show it. My fave acted like a proud parent sending their child off on the first day of school and took many pictures to document this “special day”! I felt like such a newbie. Seeing all those runners got me excited and nervous. I waved good-bye and headed to the starting line. There were so many thoughts going through my head but I said a little prayer and relaxed. The gun went off and we took off running. With the energy’s crowd and the adrenaline coursing through you, you can’t help but feel literally swept off your feet in the midst of a race. At the halfway point, I forced myself to walk for a couple of minutes just like I had trained for even though I knew I could have finished it running. Then I ran towards the finish line.
Running through the finish line never gets old for me. But when it’s your FIRST time running through one, there’s no other feeling quite like it. As I was running through, I could hear my name and knew who that voice belonged to. My number one fan; my fave. We looked at each other, hugged and had to hold back a few tears. I knew he was proud. Heck, I was proud of myself! Can you believe he almost missed me coming in?! I had come in much faster than he anticipated. My goal was just to finish the race. If there’s one thing that running has taught me, it’s this: You can accomplish ANYTHING if you put your mind and EVERYTHING into it. From that day on, I knew something changed a bit inside me.
It wasn’t until a few races and years later that I took running seriously. Running became a passion and is now a part of me. Sometimes, I think my fave thinks he created a “running obsessed monster”! But I owe it all to him. I run for many reasons; to stay healthy, the runner’s high, the camaraderie and for people who can’t. Because of many years of running and an injury, my fave doesn’t run as much and so I run for him. I dedicate my last mile from every race that I do to him. It’s my way of showing him that I can and will finish this, not only for me but for the both of us.
Have you always liked running? Who has inspired you to run?
See you at the finish line!