You guys asked for it, and now I produce. Here is another guest post by the lovely and talented writer of Cookies & Kiddos, Mrs. Hanna herself, Deetz. As I said in the past couple of posts, Deetz will be giving a recap of what was not only her first 5k, but a race with significant personal meaning as well. Please leave comments below demanding that she write ALL of my posts from now on…
Once upon a time I was a runner. I’m not kidding. Seriously. I even have proof.
I was on the track team my freshman year of high school. I’m sure my friends must have somehow talked me into joining because doing something athletic, particularly with a bunch of people I didn’t know well, does not sound like something my introverted klutzy self would have thought of. Yet, it turned out that when you started me at point “a” and told me to run to point “b”, I was pretty good at it. (Unless there were hurdles involved between point “a” and point “b”. Then all bets were off. I may jump over them and I may not. I’d say there was a 50/50 chance I would actually take the hurdle and not walk around it. But that’s probably fodder for a different blog post. Because this post is about my accomplishments!)
This would have been a wonderful starting point for a healthy and active lifestyle that would carry me through the years to come. However, after returning to the track team my sophomore year, for reasons so flimsy that I cannot even remember them, I quit the team after a few weeks.
Fast forward several years.
When I went to Hank’s first race with him it was so exciting. All the participants were so happy about the running they were about to do. They came in costumes, they came in groups, they came with a uniting mission- we are going to get this done and get dirty! (It was a mud run.) It made me think, “I want to be part of a big crazy mob of people running!” I decided that since Hank could do it, I could do it too! If he could get healthy and train for this type of thing, so could I! (Nothing like a little friendly spousal competition!)
That was this past spring. This summer I started using an app called C25K to help train for running a 5K. In the beginning, every time I ran I would think, “this is so stupid. Why did I think I wanted to do this? I don’t really care about running some race with Hank.” Then the voice in the app would say “you may now walk” and I’d get enough of a break to handle the next chunk of running. Using this app really helped. For some reason, while I don’t always have the drive to make myself keep going, an automated voice and a green/red light telling me to walk or jog keeps me going.
I decided to make it official and up the accountability factor by telling everyone that I was training to run my first 5K. I registered for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. I thought it would be perfect because it’s near our home and it happened the same week I turned 35. I decided proving that I could accomplish running a 5K would be the perfect gift to myself.
By the end of the summer I was able to run a full 5K on the treadmill. I was psyched that I would be able to run a 5K when the time came. School started and I stopped working out every day like it was my job. By the end of September I couldn’t run that full 5K anymore. Whoops! I knew I had to take some serious action if I was going to do this. At the same time I found out that my great aunt, Aunt Bea, had been diagnosed with breast cancer and would be undergoing a double mastectomy. I knew that however hard training for a 5K might seem, what she was going through was much harder. I decided to start getting up at 5am so I could run in our neighborhood before the kids woke up.
It’s pretty amazing running underneath the stars. I loved it. I felt like I was part of this new secret club as I nodded to other joggers also out for a morning run. I felt really proud of myself. I gradually built back up from walking/jogging to being able to jog the whole time I was out. Since it just so happens our house is smack dab in the middle of the Race for the Cure race course I could even practice the actual route. I would run under the stars and think about and pray for my Aunt Bea. She’s one of the most beautiful, elegant, gracious, and warm women I’ve ever known. Thinking of her inspired me to keep going. I knew that she and thousands of other women were fighting a fight they couldn’t quit and that encouraged me not to quit either.
The Friday before the race we went to pick up our race packets and that’s when I started to get really emotional. They were giving out these cards on which you could write the name of who you were running in memory of or in celebration of. For some reason that was the first time it occurred to me that this could be a fight my aunt might not win. I walked away with my race bib and tears flowing down my cheeks. I didn’t want to think of a world without my Aunt Bea.
I was very excited on the morning of the race. My parents were in town for the weekend which meant they’d be able to watch Greyson and Charlie while Hank and I ran the race.
Hank and I set out for the race starting point early enough to walk around and warm up before our race began. There were thousands of people in the downtown area of our small community! It was a virtual sea of pink. The mood was celebratory with people smiling, laughing, joking, and enjoying being in the company of others engaged in a common cause. I kept getting hit by the waves of emotion. I was really proud of myself for even getting to the point where I could run this race. I was really touched as I saw all the women in their survivor t-shirts and hats. I felt so close to Hank as he promised to be with me every step of the way, letting me set the pace while he encouraged me.
When the race started it took a few minutes to hit our stride. The people packed around us took awhile to spread out. As we got going I looked at Hank and said, “I own this.” We were running the route I run every morning and every step felt familiar and comfortable. I joked that I was officially a runner after we passed our first water station and I grabbed my cup, drank the water, then threw the cup on the ground! Hank stayed by my side, encouraging me, cheering for me, reminding me to breathe.
During the race the most emotional moments were when we ran past Greyson, Charlie, and my parents. As I mentioned, our house is right in the middle of the race course. They knew where we would be running so they were waiting for us. Hearing them cheering, “that’s my mommy!” “Go Mommy!” and knowing they were seeing me doing this thing that I never imagined I would be able to do caused me to choke back sobs as I ran. I really want to be a good role model for them. I want to show them that exercise can be fun and that you can do it at any age. I want to show them that you don’t have to have a perfect body to have fun with it. I want to show them that it’s okay to bake cookies one day and run a 5K the next. Running past them while they were cheering me on made me feel like I was fulfilling this goal.
As we came into the final stretch of the race, I really kicked it up. My track coach used to call it “getting a monkey on your back.” I wanted to finish strong and make myself, my husband, and my children proud. I was again overcome with waves of emotion as we neared the finish line. I dodged around other runners, their figures blurred by the tears in my eyes. Then…
I did it.
I finished my first race!
It was such a great feeling. I had anticipated the feeling of achievement but I had no idea the other emotions that would accompany it. I had no idea I would feel like I was running for and with all those women out there who bravely battle this disease. I had no idea the sight of my children would fill me with such pride and joy. I had no idea I’d want to cry, not just because I finished, but because I started.
When I came home after the race and unlaced my shoes it was with a new goal in mind. I don’t want future Deetz to look back at 35 year old Deetz and think “you had it going on, why did you quit?” the way I do when I look back at 14 year old Deetz.
I’m looking for my next race… which one will be yours?