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. Congrats, Jessie! What an accomplishment. I doubt I could run for more than a few seconds. I bet your son was bursting with pride over you on Saturday too.

    1. He was very proud! It was his first race too and he is already registered for another one at the end of the month! If you want to start your own running journey the couch to 5K programs are astonishingly effective!

  2. 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.

  3. This is so great Jessie! Congratulations! I downloaded the c25K app again last night. My knees can’t take a run, but a jog could happen.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

    1. Thanks, Mark! I am not sure I am all that up for mud but then, I didn’t think I would be up for cleaner sorts of running either so you never can tell!

  6. 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

      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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