So, I’m running a 5k on Saturday.
Okay, okay, enough bragging. Let me be clear, starting out here, that I have in no way, shape, or form prepared myself to do this. I am not a runner, and certainly not a distance runner. And yes, I consider 3.1 miles a distance, so all you running snobs out there just calm down and let me finish.
I am not out of shape. I am a pretty active person. I lift weights like I am King Kong, and I am decent at most organized sports. I will take on just about any physical challenge you set in front of me and mostly because of my stubborn nature, I refuse to be picked last for any team or showed up by almost anyone. I’m competitive, even when it doesn’t count. So by all accounts, this shouldn’t be insurmountable for me.
But it will be.
My only solid experience with running consists of me and my dad in my backyard practicing for Olympics Field Day when I was in elementary school. You heard me – practicing. I told you I was competitive.
We trained for Olympics Field Day as if it were, in fact, the real Olympics. And let me just tell you that year after year I cleaned house. I killed at hurdles. I crushed at all the “dash” events. I even won the three-legged-race events because I basically dragged my partner across the finish line with sheer force of will. I am NOT taking home second-place after I trained for this, slacker, GET MOVING!
I was World’s Proudest Daughter each year seeing my dad stand off to the side of the playground, watching me rack up a certificate full of First Place blue ribbon stickers. This was the 90’s, so we didn’t get real ribbons for winning – we got stickers. And despite what the world thinks of how we Millennials grew up, not every kid got a sticker unless you actually won something (JUST SAYIN’).
But even better than those blue First Place stickers was the smile that crept over my dad’s face every time I was in motion and competing for something. My dad and I were both convinced I was the fastest kid in the tri-state area. I definitely wasn’t, and I’m not sure what a “tri-state area” consists of, but it sounds like a noteworthy unit of measurement for this particular example.
Despite being an elementary Olympics Field Day champion several times over, you’ll rarely find me running anywhere for any purpose. Why? I’ll tell you why. It’s the same reason my stomach is churning when I think about running this 5k on Saturday.
The thought of running for an extended period of time is TERRIBLE.
You know it, I know it, even runners know it. Everyone who does it and enjoys it – they know it – their multiple ongoing injuries and slogans like “run through the pain” and blah blah blah says it all. Running is torturous.
As a coworker of mine discussed with me today how her experience went this past weekend running a HALF MARATHON (that’s 13.1 miles for those of you who are counting), I almost felt ashamed to admit out loud how I am freaking out at the thought of running (or walking – whatever I decide) 3.1 miles this weekend. I feel like I’m carrying the weight of the whole world on my shoulders, and this girl just physically ran – with her legs – further than I commute to work. I asked her the usual set of non-runner questions: “did you really NOT STOP?” and “are you in pain?” and “did you have to stop to go to the bathroom?” All important questions. She didn’t stop, she’s in some physical pain today, and no – she didn’t have to go to the bathroom.
I have a decent amount of friends and family who are runners. Most of these people can literally pick up their sneakers on a whim and go for a “brisk 5 miles” and not think twice of it. If I told any of them that I was running a 5k, they would most likely say, “Aww! That’s exciting!” and silently pity me for thinking that was worth sharing.
So I’m keeping it to myself that I’m doing this 5k. It’s between me and you guys. Keep your mouth shut, will ya?
I briefly tried to “become” a runner when I started dating my husband, Jared. Because when you’re young and you actually try to impress the people you’re dating, you do asinine things like that. Jared ran in both high school and college on cross country and track teams, so he’s like, an actual runner. A herniated disc in his back (that he developed FROM TOO MUCH RUNNING – see what I mean?) has sidelined him, which is why he isn’t lacing up his own sneakers to join us for this endeavor. Lucky son of a gun.
Anyway – during this time where I pretended to at least kind of like running for the sake of a dude, I will admit that I ran two 5ks back then just to say that I could. That was over 5 years ago, and I literally felt like I survived a gunshot wound at the finish line both times. The details of those particular ventures are for another day and another post, but just know, this isn’t my first rodeo. It’s how I can tell you without any doubt how miserable it is.
So why am I doing this race, you ask? Because I like putting myself through hell for literally no reason. Mostly, though, it’s because my little brother asked me to, and because the day he asked me was “National Sibling Day” and I felt like it would be such a stinkin’ cute thing to do together. I don’t think that “National Sibling Day” is anything other than an Instagram-post holiday, so the joke’s on me.
The 5k we’re “running” is for his company at work, and since he’s new at the company, I think he just wants to be a good sport about it and participate. He and I ran one of my two total career 5ks together back in 2013 (see photo above) in which I actually beat him because he wore sneakers that were falling apart and stayed out way too late the night before. He was a college kid at the time, so the fact that he even agreed to run that race with me was gracious. As I said before – the experience was very brutal and that photo does no justice to demonstrate the shin splints and regrets we felt for literally weeks to come afterward. I owe him.
Don’t get me wrong with all of this – I love runners. Alright, alright, I don’t really LOVE them. I admire their perseverance and am even, on occasion, jealous of their ability. Except for the ones that literally poop their pants when they’re running (come on, you guys, have some PRIDE for God’s sake). But I know in my heart that in order to run a farther distance than what you can throw a ball or visually see with your own eyes is partial lunacy. It just is.
Because I think it’s so looney, I’ve always been intrigued by Jared’s former life as a runner, and I often ask him questions about it to try to wrap my head around what type of alien genes he inherited that made him able to run that often and not want to die.
I’ll never forget one particular day when I asked him what type of music he listened to when he ran. You know – what were his go-to jams to pump him up for races? Imagine my horror when he uttered the response, “I didn’t listen to music when I ran.”
Uhhhhh… excuse me, sir? I couldn’t speak for a few moments, as I mentally processed the thought of someone doing anything without a soundtrack playing in the background. “So, you just, RAN, in silence, the whole time?! All the time?!” I must have married a crazy person.
I use music to inspire me to do literally EVERYTHING: work, drive, put makeup on, most certainly exercise, shower. I can barely dress myself without a song to inspire me to do so. So when I found out that “serious” runners don’t usually listen to music when they run, and CAN’T listen to music when they compete, I became even less interested in this sport. I guess they listen to themselves breathing or maybe the sound of their own lungs screaming at them instead…? That’s thrilling.
In preparation for our sibling 5k race, other than creating a playlist that I could use to trick my brain into possibly forgetting that I was running, it goes without saying that I also had to do a little bit of practicing. Today, my brother sent me a text asking simply this:
“Have you trained at all for this?”
My response was brief and succinct:
“I ran once when it was nice outside.”
And that about wraps up my preparedness for this event. I “trained” by running one time on the one day the weather was halfway decent in Western PA in April. It was at my old high school track and I put in a mile and a half, stopping to walk twice, and decided that would about cover it.
Perhaps even sadder than the actual training regime itself was the fact that my brother had to ask if I was “training” to complete a task that most people would just decide to start walking if they weren’t prepared or wanted to quit. He had trained twice as hard as I had – meaning, he ran a total of 3 times. Now THAT was dedication.
We may not have prepared, but we will sure act like we came to win when the starting gunshot fires.
I know what will happen come Sunday morning. My legs will ache, my knees will begin their slow decline into old-lady-hood, I won’t be able to bend over, etc. But I’ll give it my all on Saturday, and I’ll push myself to the brink of barfing and breaking a hip just so I can say that I did.
My dad called after work to ask me the address of this 5k race because he wants to come and watch. My initial response was, “why would you want to come WATCH me slow-trot past you once?” It doesn’t hardly seem worth it. In fact, it doesn’t even seem worth it at all.
It doesn’t matter if it’s running, or crawling, or dragging somebody against their will across the three-legged-race finish line. I’m a Millennial, which means my parents are overly proud of me – of us – and my dad is coming to watch his children do completely mediocre work whether we like it or not. It may not be the elementary school Olympics, but it’s us doing something. And apparently he thinks that’s worth it.
It doesn’t matter that I despise running. It matters that I’m doing it together with my brother, and my dad will be standing on the sidelines just like he did 20 years ago watching his kids do something that honestly doesn’t matter in the slightest. We’re doing it anyway, and he’s proud of it anyway.
So I’ll give it a go, because I love my family a lot more than I love not having to run. Right?
Remind me of that on Saturday when I’m silently cursing my brother for roping me into this and have to spend the rest of my waking days hobbling around on crutches. That is, if I make it to the finish line.
Speaking of the finish line, I hope they have blue ribbon stickers there. The moms running while pushing a baby stroller (show offs!) and the middle-aged dudes with dad-bods who will undoubtedly beat me will assure that I won’t be receiving one, but I’m just saying, I hope they have them.