Sunday, September 11, 2011

Baby, You Were Born to Run

Ok, that may be a stretch (pun intended), but I will tell you that this morning’s 5K run was exhilarating, exciting, and of course, challenging. I signed up on a whim, because the thoughts about running had been there for a long time. All I needed was a little nudge to get me to sign up, and it was done.

Let's do this, yo.
On this, the 10th anniversary of 9/11, what did I do? Honestly, if Future Me had shot back in time to 9/11/01 to tell me I would be running 5K this morning, I would have laughed and immediately fallen back to sleep.

I debated watching some 9/11 specials, but I knew this run would be more tangible to me than watching more footage about the stories and lives connected to all the events of 9/11. I knew I needed something major and something tangible for this day. And I pretty much stumbled into this run, thanks to my friend Candriann. I immediately knew it was just the thing to push me to my next level.

I knew I needed good rest, but I couldn't sleep last night. I kept waking up, anticipating getting up for the race. I knew I needed to get some good fuel into my body (early, but not so early that I was hungry again prior to the run). I knew I needed to start with yoga, so that my muscles would be nicely stretched out and warmed up.

Not only did I get up early (I mean, really early) on a Sunday morning, by choice… but it was to run. It was a good cause—the Run for Heroes, and that was my reasoning—well, really, my excuse. It was the only excuse I needed.

I did this to do something tangible, to feel connected to those whose lives were lost.

I did this because a friend encouraged me.

In the end, though—I did this for me.

And I know that at least a handful of you thought I was completely nuts, to just wake up one morning and run 5K, when I haven’t run on purpose since junior high days. But this is the way I do things. If I’m in—I’m all in.

What’s important, though, is that I did this despite all of the little judgments I picked up on. I did this because I knew I could. I did it because it was something I wanted so badly, I could taste it.

And this morning, I realized a few really important things.

When I listen to myself (instead of the voices and judgments of others), I can do more than I ever expected
Following my heart is the only way to go. Others may not understand it, and often—others really can’t understand the motivations lying deep inside a soul—and sometimes, I don’t even understand my own motivations until after the fact… but the important thing is following my heart. It never steers me wrong.

At one point just before the 1 mile marker, I realized that I wanted to start running again, but I felt conflicted because I also wanted to stay with my two pace buddies. In the end, I started running again. 

It felt good to go my own way, knowing that I had support to make my own choices, know my own limits, and take care of my own needs.

When I accept things happening in my surroundings as motivation (instead of as something negative), it helps me push myself harder
There was a group of very young Navy ROTC men and women running in loose formation for the entire run. They did chants (the same one over and over…). It was cool to have them as background noise, but it was annoying to run behind them. They ran very slowly and deliberately. And I had to constantly be on alert because at any one time, one of them might stop mid-stride to grab an ankle, bend over and stop suddenly, or cut across runner traffic suddenly—and without looking.

So around the halfway point, I managed to get in front of this group. And even though it was halfway through the run, I used them as motivation. When I heard them coming closer up behind me, I started running again, or if I was already running, I ran faster.

I can do more than I thought I could
I really surprised myself. I set very low expectations. I expected to not be able to run for more than the first little bit and maybe the last little bit. But, I ended up running for more than half the race.
Feeling downright giddy. I did it!

My time was 41:24. Not bad for my first 5K.

I am in better shape than I thought. The problems I had that caused me to slow down weren’t related to my lungs or my asthma at all. It was all about how much energy I had, how much my muscles hurt, or needed to go back to a fast walk to shore up some more endurance. 

Mostly, it was the endurance issue that slowed me down. And that is something I can definitely fix, with time and practice.

I was more ready than I realized
I have put off starting the running thing. It’s something I have wanted to so long, but I didn’t want to give it a try too soon, because I know myself well enough to know that would have been too big of a defeat for me. I needed to wait until I knew I could handle 3.1 miles before I tackled it.

Having a cheerleader at the very end, when I was hot and tired and on my last bit of fuel, helped push me even harder and then, I realized—there’s still more in me
My friend Candriann was right there at the end, and she ran the last bit with me, cheering me on, pushing me to run faster and harder for the last little go. At first I bucked… “I’m not quitting!” As I tried to start walking again… and then I went with it, and found that I still had a little more in me. I surprised myself, but it was thanks to my friend who spurred me on.

Rubber legs will not stop me!
I was #811 on 9/11
I still managed to have a coffee date today, get some chores done, and get ready for tomorrow’s work day, all the while with rubber legs and an intense desire to collapse in bed.

I think I’ll sleep really, really well tonight…

It occurs to me that on this big day... 10 years after America's worst tragedy... I am born, all over again. Is there any better way to not only honor myself, but to also honor all those who lost their lives on 9/11, than learning how to love on a deeper level?

Today, love meant getting up too early, running (slowly), and seizing a dream I've seen dangled too far ahead of me for the majority of my lifetime.

This is the continuation of my own personal revolution. I picked a very big date to begin running. It's not coincidental, although it felt that way last Tuesday evening, when I signed up. 

Nothing is coincidence. 

Every event, every moment, every encounter in our lives has meaning. It's up to us to find that meaning. 

We were all born with all the wisdom and grace we will ever need in this life, and through the violence of the birthing process, we forgot. 

We spend the rest of our lives rediscovering that wisdom, shining light on the places where we didn't know we needed grace.

And by nature, shining light on ourselves—and by doing so—helping others shine, too.

Shine on, my friends...


  1. I ran a 5K (only once - so far!) and could not believe how happy I was when I was done. I thought I would burst. There is simply nothing else like that feeling of accomplishment. GOOD FOR YOU! Hope to do one with you one day. :)

  2. Aww Lindalee this brought tears to my eyes!! I felt very similarly after running my first 5K two years ago. This was just my second, but I look forward to running 3 multiple times a week now! I was always the super fat girl who dreaded the mile and came in last in high school and this just proves that you can do anything if you set your mind to it! go girl!