Do you remember that running program I was telling you about? The one that promised I'd be running 5K in 9 weeks? I invited you to join me. I said something like:
So how about it? Are you going to let me run alone? Just think: in 9 weeks' time we could both be running continually for 5K. We will both be able to say, "I'm a runner!" We'll both have conquered the challenge. Won't that feel good?
On Sunday it will be 9 weeks since Christmas Day. It will also be 9 weeks since I started running. So…
Can I run a continuous 5 K?
Am I a runner?
And do I feel good?
I am tempted to whisper the answer to the first question… no. It would have been nice to have said yes. I could have boasted a bit and encouraged everyone to get out there and start running. But I have to be honest. No, I can’t run a continuous 5K.
When I first realised I wasn’t going to achieve this goal, I was a bit discouraged. Progress was slower than I anticipated. Why can’t I run like 8 year old Gemma-Rose? She runs 5K every morning… easily. One morning I ran/walked as far as I could, then collapsed on the grass exhausted. As Gemma-Rose sailed by, I asked if she was ready to go home.
“I want to do two more laps,” she shouted back. “I want to do 10 altogether (5K).”
I watched her run another lap and then rather foolishly, I offered to run the last lap with her. All the way round, I wondered if I’d make it back to our starting point. I did, but only just. I staggered home with Gemma-Rose bouncing along beside me, chattering away: “One day wouldn’t you like to come down to the fields and run as many laps as you want without anyone saying it’s time to go home?” she asked.
“I couldn’t have run one step further than I did today,” I admitted, wondering where she got all her energy from.
Her energy? She is young and I am… not so young. And so I have become realistic. And I have accepted the fact it is going to take me longer than average to reach my running goal.
Am I a runner, despite not completing the program? I think I can say yes! I am running a whole lot further than I am walking. I run practically the whole of the session. I just need to stop every now and then for a breather. Yes, I am a runner.
And do I feel good? Oh yes! That is the best part.
For nine weeks I have been strolling down to the park at the end of the road with my water bottle in my hand and my girls by my side. I have been part of The Team.
Some mornings it has still been dark when we’ve left home and we’ve watched the sun rise over the gum trees. Other mornings we’ve run in and out of the ground mist hovering over the fields. We’ve been caught in the rain a few times. We’ve seen kangaroos and wallabies and watched them bound away into the bush as we've approached. We’ve heard birds calling. The only person we’ve seen out so early is the lady who walks her dog. She must think we’re a bit strange…all these girls running at a time when most children are getting ready to go to school.
We used to run around the playing fields but a couple of weeks ago, after torrential rain, the grass became too boggy to run on. We discovered a network of bush tracks next to the fields and we have been running along these instead. And a whole new delightful running world has opened up.
We dump our water bottles on a picnic table and then we all head along the track. We disappear under the trees… round the bend and down through the loose stones, back up the ‘pyramid’ (a rocky hill), around the ‘ocean’ (a huge puddle), along the flat, across the sand, up another steep hill and then out into the open, along the ‘straight’… the picnic table is in sight … past the table, around the trees and back… and we have completed one loop. Now for another…
After about 35-40 minutes we are ready to go home.
“How many laps did you run today?”
“Wow! You did well!”
Yes, we are all exhausted, ready for a shower and some breakfast.
And I feel good!
I’ve done my exercise for the day, I’ve experienced the unique beauty of the bush at sunrise and I am now returning home with my girls.
Will I be able to run 5K one day? I think so. But being able to run a certain distance no longer seems so important. That’s not the best bit.
The best bit is getting up early and starting each day with the girls. I love working hard together, sharing our progress, encouraging each other, being part of a team.
We stumble up to the back door and kick off our shoes. As I slide open the door, I say, “Well done, Team!” and the girls grin back at me.
Yes, I'm a runner. I'm part of The Team. And that feels so good!