Monday, September 9, 2013

All it takes is heart

The other day I heard someone say "I may not have a runner's body, but I have a runner's heart and that is all you need". This statement has never held more true than this past weekend.  It took awhile before I really considered myself a runner. I always thought that I didn't run fast or far enough to be counted among so many elite athletes, I didn't feel worthy of the category. Thankfully I've been able to get rid of that notion and embrace the title. I am a runner. Over the last 3 days I ran 3 different races and while my legs may have started the race, it was my heart that got the job done.

At this point you might be thinking 3 races are you crazy? Well, yeah, runners can be a little crazy sometimes and this was one of those times. Friday night I did the Electric Run 5k which is a night time race held at McCormick Place. It was my first night time run and there were so many people it was tough to get a good pace going. Per usual I got up early Saturday morning to head to Field Museum for my volunteer shift working with the kids. Normally I don't do much else for the day because I'm pretty worn out after that but I was already downtown so I stopped by for a second day of helping out the Women Rock booth at the Half Marathon Expo. I guess you could say I just like being around other runners and hearing their stories. It feeds a part of your soul that can't be reached in other ways. After everything was packed up from the expo, I headed over to Grant Park for the Firefly night time 5k/10k. A couple friends were doing the 5k and I signed up with another group doing the 10k. I started to doubt myself and almost ran the 5k instead but this little voice kept telling me to just tough it out and do the longer run. It wasn't my worst 10k, but it certainly wasn't pleasant. The course was pitch black in some areas and I kept having issues with my legs or feet. The only thing that kept me going was that stubborn part of me, unwilling to quit or be conquered. So I pushed on, my little runners heart just kept on beating til I made it to the end.

Now, this is where the story turns, because Sunday morning there was nothing more I wanted to do than to sleep in and have a lazy Sunday. I didn't sign up to run the race with anyone so what's the harm if I just decided to skip it? Sure, I knew other people who would be there but they would all be running the half marathon and wouldn't even notice that I hadn't been there. I was my own worst enemy, it was just like in the cartoons where you have the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other trying to influence your decision.  That bad side was coming up with every excuse imaginable for why I needed to stay home. Ultimately the good won that round and I reluctantly rolled out of bed to get ready. The journey from my apartment to the race site took close to 2 hours and every minute that passed I regretted my decision even more. I had to shake away all my negative and just stay focused on trying to channel all of the positive energy I could muster (which is really tough at 5am).

As soon as I got to the race I knew I had made the right decision. The energy of race day consumes you. The instant I was surrounded by people I felt all of their excitement. As I walked to the starting line I ran into a friend who was there to watch and our talk gave me the last little boost I needed to get started. I'm not gonna lie and say I PRed, or had this amazing race. It wasn't. It was long, I ran slow and my body was ready to shut down.  Every single step was a battle. I toughed it out and kept on pushing until I saw the finish line. Normally I'd sprint to the end and finish strong but I just didn't have it in me. I kept the same pace and crossed that line when my body was ready. I got my medal and wandered over to the festivities to take a break before the long journey home. Since I didn't have any friends there I sat and talked with a friendly stranger who is training for her first half marathon. I shared my story with her to help quell her fears about her big race. Finally it was time to make my way back home and as I was walking I ran into one of my sorority sisters who did the half marathon. She hit an unofficial PR that morning and was overjoyed. Moments like that make it all worth it.

Once I got home I was able to enjoy my lazy Sunday and slept pretty much the whole day after having lunch. I missed phone calls and text messages until I woke up this morning. I kinda wish I would have seen them so I could have shared in the excitement last night, but it was still just as good this morning. Turns out I'm kinda famous. Well not really, but in the news coverage of the race, my friend and running buddy Abby caught a sweet shot of me running to the finish line. So this morning that's what I woke up to, a post on instagram from Abby with the hashtag #SoProudOfHer and it made my day before my day has even started.

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