This weekend in the city of Flint tens of thousands gathered for the Crim, an Annual festival of races. Downtown was hopping as families and runners gathered to compete against themselves. The main race is a 10 mile all through the city. But there is also an 8k and a 5k run.
When I first moved to the city, I knew I wanted to be a part of this city’s most beloved race. So I signed up, and I began to run. Here are some observations from the last six weeks of training.
1) Gotta start where you are.
I am not a runner. I am an overweight 35 year old with visions of youthful strength. So when I began, I grabbed an app called 5k Runner. This thing assumed you were a couch sitting monolith. So it started you off real small. 5 minutes for a warm up walk, Then you did this 60 second run followed by a 90 second walk. You did this little back and forth 6 times. Then you had a 5 minute cool down walk. This sounds easy to many of you. But I was really nervous the first time I went out running. I was scared of that 60 seconds. But I made it. I was sweaty. I was tired. My pace was slower than some speedwalkers. But it is where I started. And you gotta start where you are.
2) Gotta keep on keeping on
So, the first time running wasn’t awful. But then Wednesday rolled around. Time to run came back around. I had to wake up at 6a, roll out of my big comfy bed, stretch out my tired limbs and head out into the waking world. And the app pushed me. Before I knew it, I was running 4 minutes intervals. The first time I ran 10 straight I put my arms up in the air like I was Rocky clearing the stairs.
But the path from 60 seconds to 3 miles was a long one. It was an everyday path. It was getting up and getting out day after day after day. It was a long obedience in the same direction. There was no way I was heading out onto a 5k the shape I was in. I had to take the small steps to get to the big step.
3) Gotta run the race.
Race day is a crazy thing. There was so many people around. The crowds went further than my sight. There were real runners there. Guys and gals with strong stamina. Runners from the different schools in the area. People with shoes that cost more than the bike I rode in on.
The day of the race I was a bundle of nerves. My ankle was tweaked. My stomach was threatening revolt. But when they announced the 5k over the loudspeaker, I took my place. I was nervous, but all the training and preparation was for a reason. The time came, and the race began. And I began to lightly run.
That first mile was the hardest. It was my longest mile, and it was the toughest mentally. I wanted to give up. I wanted to walk immediately. I felt tired. Excuses floated up from the recesses of my mind. But I kept on running, one step at a time.
Now, I wasn’t near the fastest guy out there. I didn’t blow away my best time with run of my life. No. But I ran the race. I finished the race. I crossed the finish line and came home to a cheering family. They even gave me a medal. And it was good.
So, this was my first race. And tomorrow morning, I will be out running again. Cause that was just the first leg of this new journey.