I hated running with an unbelievable passion. I was the kid who faked illness to get out of running the mile in gym class. During softball practice, I was the last one to finish laps. Running was not on my to-do list this year until suddenly it was.
One of my best friends, Trish asked me to participate in a run to raise money for her friend’s scholarship fund. Her friend, Clay passed away last summer in a car accident. It was tragic and painful to watch my friend go through that. So, if running the 5K for Clay was one small thing I could for the both of them, I was in. I had no clue what I was up against; a Rugged Maniac course that was 3.1 miles with 20 obstacles. Go big or go home, right?!
I started training for your standard 5K in March and surprisingly wasn’t nervous before starting the obstacle course on Saturday morning. Realistically, nothing would have prepared me for what I encountered on the course. Walls, tunnels, mud crawls under barbed wire and much more. I am still amazed at what I accomplished. I am wearing several battle wounds proudly today and learned three important lessons after my first 5K.
I knew I ran this race because of Trish and because of Clay. Last summer, I remember feeling so helpless, that there was no way to comfort my friend, whose life changed forever that day. Saturday was one way to help her and to honor an amazing guy who lit up the room with his presence. I could not imagine losing one of my best friends and having my world change so instantly. Trish and all of her friends are remarkable and turned such a sad day into a celebration of Clay’s life. I admire them for that. A lesson we’ve learned so many times was reinforced Saturday: that life truly is too short.
I never would have dreamed of running a 5K a year ago, let alone complete a mud run with obstacles. I physically, mentally and emotionally blew myself out of my comfort zone. To be honest, it feels (and felt) great! Crossing that finish line was one of the proudest moments of my life and I will never forget how it felt to accomplish something I never thought I could do. Impossible is a relative term because if you want to accomplish something, you will. I tried something that scared me, succeeded and now want to continue to get better.
During the last four months, running has taught me a lot about myself. It has become a form of therapy and the best way to manage my anxiety. When I get that pang in my chest and feel anxious, I go for a run instead of freaking out or screaming or eating. It has worked every single time with a variety of emotions including anger, sadness and nervousness. It has made me healthier, helped to manage stress and forced me to eat right. Amazing to think saying yes to one race led to all of this.
Saturday was amazing and I would totally do it again. I encourage you to jump out of your comfort zone,
with arms wide open. It is terrifying but the payoff is tenfold. If you’re as lucky as I am, you’ll have friends and family pushing you every step of the way. Friends like Trish and her brother Andy who were there each time I wanted to quit during the race. Friends like my co-worker Alicia who literally forced me to run certain days and supplied constant virtual support during the last couple of months. I am so grateful for their support as well as the support of others because you can’t do it alone.
Next time an opportunity to do something new, something that scares you arises, DO IT! I promise it will be a life-changing experience.
If it scares you, it probably is exactly what you need.