This past Sunday, I ran my first 5k. Emphasis on the word ran. Sure, I've done my share of 5k walks, but I've always told myself that I'm just not a runner. I've never been particularly good at it (envision the scene from Friends where Phoebe teaches Rachel about running), and I've never really gotten much enjoyment out of it. Ok, I've never gotten any enjoyment out of running. This has led me to tell myself that I just can't do something like run a 5k.
How then did I come to the decision to run this 5k? My sister recently did a Couch to 5k training program as a way to get into better shape after having her son. She completed the program earlier this month and wanted to sign up for a 5k race as the final step. So, I offered to do it with her. I wanted to show my support, and also show her that she didn't have to complete that final step alone. The race she chose to run? The Top Pot 5k Doughnut Dash in Seattle. Now that's what I'm talking about. I know that it doesn’t matter if I walk or run, I'm getting a doughnut at the finish line. Winning!
Even though I'd committed to running alongside her, I put off actually registering for the race until the Thursday before. I joked with my teammates at work that "I was probably going to walk most of it" and "I was just in it for the doughnut"; which was partially true. The night before the race, I was anxious and kind of dreading it. I even avoided looking at the course map as my way of denying that it was actually happening. I was spinning this story in my head that I wasn't going to be able to keep up, and that I would probably be one of the last to finish.
As we lined up to start on race day, my heart pounded in my chest and I almost chickened out, but I knew I couldn't leave my sister hanging like that. I had that "we're-in-this-together-even-if-we-go-down-in-a-ball-of-fire" mentality. The starting gun fired, and the crowd in front of us slowly started moving. Then, we were off. I spent the first quarter mile or so making sure I didn't trip on anything and concentrating on my breathing. Then, I spent the next half mile or so convincing myself that I didn’t need to slow to a walk, that I wasn't going to lose pace with my sister, and that I wouldn’t die from a lack of oxygen. The rest of the way, we stayed side by side, silently encouraging each other to keep going. If one of us started to lag a little, the other would slow down to stay together and keep pushing.
As we approached mile three, there were supporters along the sides of the course with funny signs that said things like "Keep Going Do Nut Stop!", and "You're Almost There" with pictures of giant, delicious looking doughnuts. There was also a course volunteer loudly cheering us on and telling us how close we were, to keep it up, we were almost to the finish line.
At this point, I started to realize that we really were almost there and that we'd already done most of the hard work. I found myself glancing over at my sister while holding back tears as I thought, "We're gonna do this. Both of us. Together." I realized that I was doing this, I was going to finish this race; and I ran the whole way.
As we rounded that final corner to the finish line, I looked over at her and asked, "Are you ready? Let's kick it up and push it full speed the rest of the way." We crossed the finish line, photo-finish style, at 36 minutes on the dot. We made sure to get clear of the runners behind us before giving each other a triumphant high five, both of us holding back tears.
In that moment, I was so overwhelmingly proud of her for sticking with it and giving it everything she had. I was proud of her for not giving up when she was tired and for finishing that race. I was also proud of how she was going to demolish the doughnut that was coming her way.
I found myself overwhelmed by my own sense of pride. I had just completed a 5k; without training for it and without truly believing that I could. You know how I felt? Invincible. Like I could accomplish anything.
What's the point of my somewhat long-winded story?
1. Almost all of what we tell ourselves that we can't do is mental.
2. We convince ourselves that we can't do something and it becomes true.
3. We can never know for sure if we can or can't do something unless we try.
4. With a little practice and the right attitude, anything is possible.
This can be true in all aspects of life; family, career, school, fitness, etc. So, what are you waiting for? Get out of your own way already!
*Since I know you’re wondering, the doughnuts at the finish line were just as delicious as we’d imagined.