runners in race
Health & Fitness

Yes, I Did! My First Race

My phone rang on a chilly December afternoon; it was my sister reminding me to register for a 5K (3.1-mile) race that was being held in Atlanta in late January.

I don’t like to run. Her response: “You don’t have to run the entire race. You can walk if you need to” made me realize that she wasn’t asking me whether I was going to do it. She was reminding me.

Race day arrived.  It was a gray Sunday morning and while most were happy that the predicted rainstorm held off, I was silently wishing it would pour. I felt I needed an excuse for my slow performance. Nonetheless, I felt the energy of the racers around me. I wanted to begin.

My sister is one of the most dedicated fitness people around; I didn’t want her to slow up for me, and I made a vow that I was going to work extra hard. “Are you ready to run?” I shouted. “Let’s do this!”

I began racing down the road, and I was amazed when I reached the one-mile mark. I almost didn’t recognize myself. Police officers were stopping traffic to allow the racers through the busy streets of downtown Atlanta, photographers were snapping away and people were watching and cheering us on.

There were a few moments I could feel my leg cramp up, and I started to get a little doubtful if I could complete the race.  My sister kept assuring me that our timing was really good and that I should not worry. We stopped running for a bit and briskly walked. I felt sore but better.

Runners who finished the race before we did cheered us on to complete it, too. They were enjoying their treat of hot cocoa and chocolate fondue with pretzels and marshmallows. I love chocolate, and I wanted my cocoa, too! “Let’s just get this over with, baby,” I shouted.

The adrenaline of arriving at the finish line was something I never experienced before in my life.  I did not feel the pain in my leg and could have probably run another mile.

I wanted to cry as I hugged my sister and jumped up and down screaming, “We did it, baby! Yay, we did it!” I could not stop thanking my sister for not only inviting me but encouraging me to do this with her.

Out of 296 people in my age group I came in 125th; to me, that was a gold medal.

Thanks to my sister I left my comfort zone.  I now realize the only competition I have is within myself and I have the ability to win my own personal gold medals in so many aspects of my life.

The road I traveled the past 57 years is far longer than the miles remaining.  It is time to tie up my laces or hit the keyboard or get on the treadmill or read books.  It is time to volunteer and join the clubs.  The word can’t must go away.

I am not a professional writer as I type this piece.  I am not a professional fitness instructor as I work out.  I am not a professional chef as I make dinner, and I am not a professional athlete as I look for my next race.

But worrying about being the best at any of these things are only dead ends that keep me from stretching, growing, learning and trying.