Sunday, February 13, 2011

How It All Began

Let's get one thing straight... I was coerced into signing up for the Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler. In the 3 years that I have lived in DC, I've had many a friend enthusiastically sign up for the lottery in the hopes of running this race only to find themselves left off the ballot on lottery day. The race gods have a funny way of turning runners into spectators for this particular event.

So when Chelsea suggested we run it, I laughed. When I realized she was serious I went along with it, thinking surely this would blow over in no time. I mean, hadn't we just run a 5k and hadn't I specifically sworn off any race that exceeded my 3.1 mile limit? Fast forward 1 week to a work cubicle packed with Elizabeth, Kate, Chelsea and yours truly discussing the pros and cons of a 10-mile commitment. The cons - too many to count; the pros - we'd be known as "Team Beave" from here on out. SOLD! (That and the fact that I was convinced we were safe from the lottery drawing). With reluctance, I handed over my credit card and Elizabeth signed me up for the race. Did I mention that I was a mere week away from a planned trip to Barbados? I was in such high spirits you could have asked me to do just about anything and I would have said yes. Clearly.

As you know, a few weeks later our fate was sealed and my mind reeled. Getting right to the matter of the heart, I was terrified. I'm a newbie in the running arena and I've had my fair share of challenges and self-doubt. More importantly, I actually don't love running. I do it because it's quick, easy, and the camaraderie is worth the pain. For me, 3 miles was a comfortable goal but 10? Who in their right mind wants to run 10 miles? Not this girl.

So training began and I was on board. 1 mile, 2 miles, 3 miles... Okay I thought, I can do this. And then came the dreaded 4 mile run. In all my months of running 4 miles has been my wall - I was exhausted after 3 so why even bother with 4? 3 miles is respectable, any thing more is showing off. I was convinced I didn't have it in me and when I failed my friends would finally understand my protests, take pity on me, and kindly let me off the hook.

On 4 mile day, Elizabeth and I headed out to the Crescent Trail in Georgetown; an awesome shaded trail that runs along the Potomac river. It was a warm(ish) day and I was excited to trade in my treadmill for trees. E gave me my running instructions and I headed out, wary about the 4 miles that lay ahead of me. I found my pace and settled in, determined to face my demon.

I thought about a lot on that run. I thought about how far I've come in the past year when a 1 mile run was cause for celebration. I thought about my team, Chelsea, Kate and E. One year ago these women were colleagues. Now thanks to our adventures in running, they are some of my closest friends. I thought about all my cheerleaders: coworkers, friends and family. The support I've received has been unbelievably overwhelming. Somewhere between miles 2 and 3 it occurred to me that apparently, I was the only one who thought I couldn't run this race.

Wouldn't you know, in the midst of all this thinking, mile 3 came and went - just like that... and I greeted mile 4 with a smile on my face. The reality of this run was undeniable, this race has become so much more than just a race and the coercion I once fought so hard against has become a welcomed friend. The race gods are certainly smiling down on me now - pleased that they have turned a spectator into a runner.

Here's to miles 5, 6, 7 ,8 ,9 and 10 - I look forward to meeting you.

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