On Sunday, I ran a 5k with my two sisters-in-law, Shira and Rea. Shira and I were mainly running to support Rea in first 5k. This race was serious business. It was a small race one town over that attracted maybe less than 100 people all of which looked like they would finish this 5k in under 20 minutes. To make matters more challenging, Sunday was not the most beautiful day of the week. Rather, it was one of those days where you seriously contemplate a DNS (I know I did). The course while mostly flat had one bitch of a hill that would stop the best runner in his tracks. In my cousin's words, "No medal in the world could get me to run up that hill." And my cousin really I mean really likes her medals.
Yet, despite all of this, my sister-in-law Rea was determined to run her first race ever, her first run outside ever, and her first hill run ever. For me, I got to witness the magic of someone conquering what they never would have thought was possible. Anyone can be a fast runner start at the front of the pack and then make a mad dash for the finish. It might hurt like hell and take months and months of training but in many ways there i something simple about that. But not anyone can have the courage and perseverance to run a race knowing that you will not be even close to Number 1. To have the confidence and charisma to be one of the last runners on the course, but still find the ability to keep going because she or he know that this is his or her race. It is not about who else finishes in what time or how long it might take them to finish. Rather, it is about completing their journey and their race that they set out to complete whether it took 20 minutes or an hour.
Rea is this person. She began her journey a few weeks back with Couch to 5k. Honestly, I did not believe she would do it. But she proved me wrong battling through each week to complete the training requirements and successfully making it to the starting line. I was and am so proud of her. While she may have been nervous, intimidated, or even embarrassed, she rose to the occasion with a smile on her face and took off. As Rea put her game face on, Shira and I started our job at being the best cheerleaders we could screaming at the top of our lungs. O.K. so maybe I was the only one screaming and Shira and Rea were thinking how they desperately wanted me to shut-up. People pulled ahead of us quickly until it was only us and one walker behind us (who by the way had done over 62 marathons but then his knee gave out so he took up running). No matter to Rea or any of us though, we were on a mission. It did not matter if half the group was already finished before we got to Mile 2 - we were out there for Rea and Rea's journey alone. So Rea continued to run and I continued to scream. The course was lined sporadically with the town's middle school cross country team who sort of just stared at me like I was a screaming lunatic although some cheered with me and others told me that they had seen my other half (referring to the fact that Aaron in his Crazy shirt had whizzed by before us).
Soon enough though, we were almost at the end. The last part of the course, the part that always seems the longest. Rea wanted to give up, to walk, to rest. But she did not. We kept telling her she was almost there. That she was so close, to leave nothing on the course and she kept going like a champion.
And then we were there, we could see it - the finish.....
Rea finished in about 40 minutes. In a normal sized 5k, she would not have even been close to last, but today where only the "elite crazy" runners came out, she was almost last. However, in my book she was one of the strongest runners on the course that day. Most of the other runners may have felt nervous or exhausted or like they wanted to throw up (a sure sign of a good 5K), but most of those individuals were just doing the same old, same old - a thing they had done most of their lives. Not that these people are not amazing (they are don't get me wrong) but there is something truly spectacular about someone who takes a chance. Who is strong and confident enough to complete her goals no matter how long it takes. To persevere and do something and accomplish something for one's body and mind.
It only took one race by the way, it seems as if Rea is addicted with the rest of us already dreaming about 10Ks and a half marathon - who can blame her.
And I have to give one final note, Aaron CRUSHED it with a new PR yet again coming in with 29 minutes in change. I ran 3 miles today on the Treadmill (apparently it is winter again) and it took me 32 minutes. How the tables have turned...
Aaron's comment - are you all really that short?!?
How was your first 5k? Who do you believe are the courageous runners?