Friendship and a 5K

This morning I woke up early and ran my fourth 5K! My friend Jen and I ran together. It was her first.

And I think it was my favorite one thus far.

Because neither of us cared about our time or being competitive.

We were just doing something to be healthy and to hang out together.

Plus, it’s sponsored by Guardian Angel Services, an organization both of us care about. We’re both in social work.

Jen and I have been friends since freshman year of high school– 1995. That’s 20 years! Holy cow.

The event was called Angels Against Abuse, and before we ran there was a speaker. She talked about how she found the strength to leave her ex-husband, the man who was “the father of my children.”  She repeated that last phrase emphatically– and I got it. Wouldn’t that be the primary arrow aimed at any woman trying to move on and escape an abusive relationship? Aren’t women always pressured to forgive all because they are expected to sacrifice not just her happiness, but her own well-being and safety in the name of keeping the family together? She said she knew if she didn’t leave, one day he would kill her. The most incisive moments for me was when she read excerpts of the love letters he would write her after the abuse. The promises, the begging, the hope he would spark that he really did want to treat her better. Her belief that *she* was the one who could heal him– he’d had a rough life.

She credited her counselor with helping her manufacture courage to start her own life with her children– safely. That counselor was her advocate at each court date, all the way until the divorce was finalized.

Afterward, they hugged. I was definitely tearing up.

And subsequently, the race stated.

There were times she needed to slow down and walk, and there were times that I did. And both of us are happy to comply and wait until the other was ready to run again. We’d talk a little.

And she was always positive, always fun!

It was equal. And both of us suggested running again to the other and encouraged each other to keep going.

We were also laughing because we got hit with not just substantial wind resistance, but rain!!

It was really coming at us! Luckily I had a hoodie from the event, but I was soaked. My toes were squishy in my shoes.

I joked that we were “hardcore” runners now! I I felt like such a bad ass.

Crossing the finish line was such an achievement!! I’ve never had to deal with so much weather in a run.

I did see my time at the end,  but didn’t make particular note of it.

Then we grabbed some refreshments and snacks, thanked each other for a great race,and went our separate ways.

Neither cared about how we ranked. We had achieved our goal!

And now it was time to go home and enjoy it.

In two weeks we have another 5K, in Chicago. Cannot wait!!

My First 5K!! No Looking Back

I ran a 5k this morning. The 4th Annual Theresa Lang 5K, in my hometown of Joliet, IL.

I got to say that today! My first ever. I chose this one because I was friends with the woman honored in this race– it only makes sense that her event be my first.

I felt her spirit with us when I saw a young girl in the parking lot, a volunteer, totally jazzed with energy. She was yelling and dancing and positively HOPPING with joy. She just exuded fun. That’s how Theresa was, and why she is still mourned deeply by myriad people. That jubilant spirit is why she is worthy of this event.

FIrst, it is so wonderful to wake up early, run, and then go on with my day. Like it’s just part of my routine!!

My biggest fear had been that I would tragically sleep through the race entirely. But I made it!! I started with everyone.

Second, my experience was made so much better because my close friend Jennifer signed up to support me– so I wouldn’t have to run my first race alone. She’s invited me to other 5k’s this year, coming up soon. I think it’s so cool that this is a part of our friendship– something we have in common and can do together! Plus, it’s healthy.

This was only her third 5k, so we’re both beginners. And though she can run faster than me, she never left me behind. She stayed within 5 feet and slowed down if I was really struggling. She’d ask me if I wanted to walk or run. She was very accepting of my ability, which was such a gift. My original goal had been to run the whole thing, but I didn’t. However, I’m still proud!! I finished. And I wasn’t last!

Just having someone there with me made the race so much more meaningful.

I heard there were 140 runners signed up– online, it says that I finished in 42:18, 96th place. I’ll take that!!! And though a 5K is supposed to be 3.1 miles, somehow my Nike Running app calculated us at 3.42 miles? I’m not complaining!

When it started I was pretty intimidated– it seemed like most of the runners passed me up right away. But I took the advice of Jen, who told me to just run steady, that we’d end up passing a good amount of them who would be walking and etc.  And she was never annoyed when I had to slow down. But she would also encourage me to go faster.

When I had to walk or was losing motivation, I told myself I wasn’t allowed to look behind me. It didnt’ matter who was back there– it only mattered that I keep going!!

She also tried something out of her comfort zone– for the first time, she ran without music. She wanted to get the full experience of the other runners. I didn’t have music either.

And considering that I ran late last night and didnt’ get enough sleep, I think I performed extremely well. Lesson learned for the future: NO RUNNING the night before a race!!

I’ll continue running 5K’s, and I will continue to grow in ability and endurance.

Running is a skill and a passion for me.

Today is such a milestone!!

Probably the best was taking a few pictures after the race, with Jen and I, one of me alone with my arms in the air– holding that gloriously cold bottle of ice water. And one of me near the “Start” sign.

Theresa Lang’s 5K today marked the beginning of my official running life.

I’ve already got my eye on another next month!!

A Serious Runner?

“You look like such a serious runner!”

That’s what Eleise said last time we ran, on Wednesday. It was a quick one.

I loved hearing that!

And now it seems I’m dealing with my first injury. Which both makes me feel like a hardcore athlete and also anxious.

I JUST started! Coming up on a month. Just when I’m starting to get good.

It was Friday night that I strolled into Barnes & Noble and my left leg twisted. I felt a little pop and then my left knee buckled backward. Intense pain. I felt very unsteady and the only way to alleviate it was to stand in place on my right leg, gripping a display table. I pulled my left leg up behind me, holding it in place. I tried to walk and was unsteady. I got a few steps, then it happened again.

“I am way too young for this,” I thought.

Dejection. Then annoyance– what had I done wrong? I’ve been so careful not to push too hard as I’m starting out.  I’ve tried to be consistent with my distances but also not aggressive about beating my times and extending my runs just because I feel optimistic.

I’ve been trying to run smarter, not harder. Maybe I’ll get lucky. Maybe it’ll clear it up on its own.

I was there to meet someone, so I didn’t go home. The pain lessened.

But I asked a few friends and was told to get it checked ASAP.

Because of work I couldn’t go yesterday– and calling off was not an option. Today isn’t either. Monday it is.

As per instructions given I used rest, ice, compression and elevation. It seems to be working.

I’ve always been quite resilient and healed quickly. I always always go to the doctor, just to be safe.

I’m still young.

So I’m going in first thing Monday morning.

I feel optimistic. I felt no pain today with the wrap. But when I unwound it tonight, the tenderness at the back of my knee was definitely there. But it’s not a throbbing pain. It seems fine now, hours later.

Already, I miss running. It’s become something I look forward to, part of my routine.

I hope it’s minor and won’t take more than a week or two– worst case scenario– to heal. That’s what I’ve been told to expect.

Also sadly, yesterday, just hours before it happened– a new friend invited me to join her, her husband and a mutual friend in a 5k in a few weeks. It would be my first!

I want to go. If I can at least walk it. Too soon?

I have no idea. I can only pray.

I want to recover and grow as a runner.

Maybe God’s telling me to slow down?

Please send a prayer for healing my way! Any advice, fellow running bloggers and readers?

Comment away!!

Where’s Mr. Miyagi? I wish he could do that hand-rubbing thing on *my* knee right about now!

Like Danielsan, I want back in the action.