MY FIRST DISAPPOINTMENT AS A RUNNER

I didn’t think I would make it home. I clutched my phone, ready to call for back-up in case I collapsed. The ache in my legs was tear-worthy, matched only by the disappointment I felt in myself–in my body for letting me down.

It was a perfect night for running. Clear skies, bright moon, upper 60s, low humidity. My heart was set on achieving the milestone I had been racing toward (see what I did there?) for the past few weeks: my first 5k.

I didn’t get very far. About a mile in, I decided nabbing my first 5k on this particular night just wasn’t worth the injury my legs were warning me about. And let me tell you, they were screaming. It wasn’t an unfamiliar feeling, but it was one of maybe three times I’ve ever experienced it in public (and the first when running).

Ten years ago, I broke my back in a fall*. The EMTs were certain I had broken my left leg, too, but x-rays didn’t show anything. While my mobility has never suffered as a result of the accident, I do get these weird, very painful shooting spasms in my legs–mostly the left one. Sometimes, it’s like a white hot lightning rod coursing from my hip to my toes. Others, it’s centered mostly behind the knee with a sensation like a charley horse. I can’t predict when they will happen or how long they will last. As I’ve gotten older, they’ve gotten worse, but they are still quite sporadic so I just soldier through.

There was no soldiering through on this night. I had invested too much to ignore my body and push it too far, risking major injury. I had read the warnings from seasoned runners: it’s better to cut your run short if you suspect something isn’t right rather than sideline yourself for weeks as you nurse an injury. Lesson number 5 in my “I’m not a runner” diary.

I hobbled home, nearly in tears (of pain? disappointment? both?). As I stewed in my angry juices, I realized that the reason I was so pissed off was because not only did I pine for the 5k milestone, I believed I could achieve it. Me–the girl who struggled just a couple of months ago to run a mile. The anger cooled, turning into a renewed, icy resolve. Though I conceded this particular run, I haven’t given up my goal. I’ll get that 5k before the end of June.

* Full story on my accident to come in September.

PROPELLED FORWARD BY WILL ALONE

Last night was my first night “running.” At its best, my pace was a clunky, awkward jog. At its most comfortable, it was a very brisk walk. At its worst, it was me fumbling with my gadgets to mask the embarrassment of catching my breath. I went 1.15 miles before I gave in to quitting.

Sunshine + good tunes + sneakers = AJ's first run

sunshine + good tunes + sneakers

My first run taught me a few things:

  1. I really need to find a way to “batten down the hatches” when engaging in high impact sports. Curvy women will know what I mean. Everything that gives me my feminine shape hurt last night. I knew the impact would be killer, but I was not fully prepared. I blame the elliptical and stationary bike for spoiling me over the winter. Time to get some compression wear! Some toning exercises probably wouldn’t hurt either.
  2. Just as I had to figure out a good pace on the bike, I need to find a groove for running. It will take time, but it’s there somewhere. My heart rate monitor coupled with some beginner runner training programs will likely help.
  3. I need to get over my own vanity. Honestly, who looks sexy when they’re running? My paranoia that everyone was watching me did nothing to help my first foray into the sport. My messy, sweaty running > lazy couch potato-ing.
  4. Training on my indoor equipment still has a relevant place in all of this. I had thought once the weather broke I could just transition straight to jogging outside. This first run laughed in my face with a, “Oh, you think you’re a hot shot just because you can do 13 miles on your bike in an hour? PFFFT! Think again, lady!” Endurance on an elliptical or stationary bike is completely different from endurance running outside. That said, my indoor equipment can still help me improve my endurance on days when I can’t get outside to run.

As I’ve said before, I am not a runner. I never have been. My body just doesn’t seem to be built for the sport. But that’s not going to stop me.

Even without pushing myself, I wasn’t too far off from my mile times in high school. That alone is encouraging to me, especially given all the sedentary years in between now and then. And the trails behind our house don’t know it yet, but I’m one stubborn woman. What my body lacks my tenacity will more than make up for. That’s right, trails: I’m gonna whoop your butt! It may not be the fastest ass kicking you’ve ever received, but it will be an ass kicking nonetheless.

A DRAGON OF MANY COLORS

[Note: I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Major changes in my life must be dictated by the exact moment and frame of mind required to succeed. The stars don’t magically align for that simply because we roll over a new calendar year. Thus I must emphatically assert that this is not a resolution.]

I am not a runner.

Most people reading this probably remember those physical fitness tests in school–one of which was to run a mile. I think I finished around 14 or 15 minutes–and that was in my prime. I haven’t really pounded the pavement since.

So why in the hell did I sign up for the Color Me Rad 5k in August?

Maybe I was seduced by the pictures of smiling people splattered with bright colors. They certainly don’t look exhausted. In fact, they look like they’re having fun! Or maybe my imperial system brain couldn’t comprehend how far a 5 kilometer run actually is. Maybe I thought, “Bah! That’s like eight months from now! Plenty of time to get ready!”

Once I had publicly committed to Color Me Rad, there was no backing out. That’s part of why I did it. One little Facebook post and a few tweets helped keep me accountable.

And now that I’ve actually signed up, I feel the panic coming over me.

Oh man, it's real now...

Oh man, it’s real now… Wanna run/jog/walk with me? Sign up under Team Hearts and Stars, team captain name Motia.

What have I gotten myself into? I’m not a runner. What if I can’t finish the run? What if it’s unbearably hot? What if I fall flat on my face?

Remember my post last year about conquering dragons? This 3+ mile long dragon with rainbow scales is a big one for me in 2013. Running a 5k was never on my proverbial bucket list, but I’m coming out swinging at it all the same. Color Me Rad, you will be mine this August. Oh yes. Prepare to be conquered!