Jessie: In Maine where the nights are beginning to cool.
On Saturday I did something that still surprises me several days later. I ran my first 5K race. To tell the truth, it was the first race I had run since some time in elementary school. I have no idea how I got the notion to try my foot at running but sometime in late 2018 I did.
I downloaded a C25K app on my phone, loaded my Netflix queue with foreign films with subtitles to keep my mind busy while on the treadmill and laced up some old sneakers I had bought on sale in the children’s clearance section of a local department store.
I felt pretty good the first week and was proud of myself the second but by the third I was pretty sure I was in over my head. Weeks 4-6 were daunting and I was not at all sure I would manage weeks 7 and 8. But somehow, with enough positive self-talk, putting it down in writing in my weekly planner and choosing an unrelenting commitment to reaching the end I completed the program.
To be honest, I did a few of the workouts twice instead of moving on to the next one on the list. I had days when I slowed my pace. I began following a bunch of runners and running hashtags on Instagram so that inspiration would show up in my feed. In just over nine weeks I went from someone on the couch to someone running for 35 minutes uninterrptedly. The first time I managed that, I was so proud I almost burst.
But I never ran outdoors. I didn’t run with anyone else. I didn’t even run on treadmills in hotel gyms when I traveled. I would pack my gear into my carry on bag and never end up using it.
All that changed when I told my son I was almost done with my program. He had started running himself and suggested that I plan to go running on the National Mall with him when I visited just before Malice Domestic in April. Once again I packed my gear but this time I pulled it out of my bag, climbed into it all and headed out into public view with my encouraging kid at my side. I was so proud of myself I almost burst. Somehow, in my own mind, I had crossed an imaginary line I never thought I would.
Then came May. My son moved to Maine and suggested we sign up for a 5K race in our beach town scheduled for August 17. I took a deep breath and agreed. All through this summer I have been strapping on running shoes I bought in the women’s department of a shoe store. I’ve jogged past neighbors and dogs and beachgoers. I began to be recognized by other joggers along a shared route. I was so proud I almost burst.
On Wednesday my back went out spectacularly. On Thursday I developed a hacking cough and floodgates of congestion. On Friday visitors arrived from out of town to stay for a few days. On Saturday my son and I went to the race anyway. And we ran it. It took me longer than I had expected and was harder than I had hoped it would be. But, at the finish line, I was so proud I almost burst.
Which, of course, brings me to writing. When I wrote my first book I was uncertain, intensely private about what I was doing and not in the least sure I would ever reach the finish line of a novel. But by scheduling time for it, by looking to others for inspiration and by making an unwavering commitment to getting to the end I ended up with a book. I was so proud I almost burst.
Readers, have you ever done anything that left you bursting with pride? How have you surprised yourself in a good way? Writers, do you have another activty that seems similar to writing to you? Runners, any tips for me?