I did it. We did it. It was as much about me as it was about them. I mean, I only started running six weeks ago. And I'm not a runner.
It may have been Elizabeth sharing her Run Like a Mother attitude. It may have been my husband encouraging me to push a little farther every time we ran together. More than likely, it was signing up to be a running buddy for a fifth grader for a 5K in Chicago. I had to think I could be a runner.
I talked with my running buddy a few weeks ago. So, are you a runner? Yes. Are you a fast runner? Yes. Promise you'll help me out? Yes. (Giggle.)
Our school participates in a powerful program with our fifth grade girls. Girls on the Run encourages girls to take control of their health and body and builds self-confidence and self-respect through running. Girls on the Run culminates at the end of the school year with the girls running a 5K.
The day arrived. It was June in Chicago: hot, sticky, and humid.
I think we were all a bit nervous and excited. "So, what's our game plan today? Run, walk, a little of both?" I asked Cassi, my running buddy.
"Jog. We'll start off with a slow jog and speed up," she replied as I nodded my head in agreement hoping I can keep her pace. We've been waiting almost thirty minutes before our wave was set to go. Crowds were cheering. Music was pumping. Sweat was dripping. Excitement was building.
We stepped up and the announcer reminded us to hydrate. It was H.O.T. and we hadn't even started the run.
"Raise your hand if this is your first 5K." Hundreds of hands popped into the air waving with delight. "Well, you are thirty seconds away from beginning your race. Good luck!"
Cassi and I, along with our team and hundreds of other girls and running buddies, swayed back and forth in anticipation. Everyone was ready to go.
"5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1!" The sound of the horn buzzed and we were off! I looked down at my watch as we crossed the starting line: 9:28.
Because of the mass quantity of girls and their running buddies, we were jogging fairly slowly, but as the running path widened, the crowd spread out. We finally got into a rhythm and I was feeling pretty good with my running buddy along side me. I can do this.
I could see Cassi slowing down out of the corner of my eye. "I need to walk," she gasped. We slowed to a walk and moved toward the right. I looked down at my watch: 9:34. Six minutes.
What was I so worried about? Kids have the strength and endurance to play all day, even in extreme heat. But running? I quickly learned in six minutes not so much. But we forged ahead.
We pushed our way through the crowds of walkers and runners. We jogged. We ran. We challenged each other. We weaved in and out and around to stay together. We walked when we needed to catch our breath and wipe our brows.
Fifty minutes later, little water, lots of heart, sweat, but no tears . . . We crossed that finish line. Hands in the air. We did it.
After completing the run, I realized what a big deal it was for these girls to run/walk/jog and finish a 5K. It really is quite an accomplishment.
But I also realized that it was a big deal for me too. My first 5K and I did it. I can only imagine the power and self-confidence that I would have gained if I ran a 5K back when I was in fifth grade. This is an accomplishment that Cassi, nor I, will ever forget!