Bursting

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?

25 Thoughts

  1. Jessie, how did I not know this? So many congratulations! As a former runner, I know exactly how hard it is to start and keep going. The pinnacle of my running ‘career’ was training for and finishing the Boston Marathon on a charity number – in five hours and 16 minutes. It was a huge one-time accomplishment, but so was my first five-miler and my first 10k. Tips? Keep yourself in good running shoes, and stretch gently after running.

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  2. I am in awe – running is beyond me! Congratulations, Jessie! I managed to walk more than 13 miles in one day on the Camino de Santiago. My husband told me how long it would be in kilometers and I didn’t manage to translate it into miles until we were done. But running in a race? That’s awesome!

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  3. Congrats! I remember that feeling as well when I did my running firsts, including my first 5K. Warning, running can be addictive.

    Second warning: I will now start asking you to join me for a mud run. Just think how proud you’ll be when you finish that!

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  4. Way to go, Jessie, for making a difficult goal and sticking to it, and beyond. My knees couldn’t take the pounding anymore, but back in the day… My son and hubby were black diamond skiers, but me? I stayed on the blue trails to keep my fear of heights in check. But that was before I got stuck on a frozen lift at the top of the mountain. The only way to get down was to jump off the lift and ski down a nasty piece of slope – or wait for help that we were told thru loudspeaker would be a while. I was cold and getting colder, dark was closing in, and I was in need of a ladies room. I struggled with the top piece of trail, but made it to mid-station without breaking or spraining anything. The guys high-fived me for navigating the black diamond section and I felt pretty good. I hadn’t planned for it, but it was certainly a goal I never thought I’d attain, even if it wasn’t Olympic pretty. lol

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      1. I don’t run at all and can’t imagine the energy, guts, EVERYTHING, needed to finish that race, so back at ya!

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