I ran 5 kilometres for the first time this week.
It was awful. But I’m so proud. I began running eight weeks ago. That day I ran 6, 1 minute intervals. I had such an intense stitch in my side that I thought I was going to keel over. That whole week I wobbled around the factory on rubber legs. By the next week, I was running 2.5 minute intervals and feeling stronger. Three weeks ago, I ran my first mile.
As I walked home from my run that day, I reflected on why I was doing this.
When I was in my early teens, I was at a youth conference with members of my church. One of the chaperones met a friend there, and they planned to go for a run. One of my friends was tagging along and I, desperate to be accepted, said “Sure. I’ll come too.” How hard could it be? I was left behind in less than a minute, humiliated and unable to continue.
That Saturday, my first mile run behind me, I said “This mile’s for you,” to my friend and my chaperone. I could keep up with them, but it was too late.
I said “this mile’s for you,” to my peers who were always faster and more athletic than me, who I couldn’t keep up with and finally gave up on.
I said “this mile’s for you,” to my Grandpa, who ran competitively well into his seventies, until an injury took him out of the sport. He now organizes races with the Manitoba Runners’ Association, and coached me through my training.
I run my first 5K race on August 17th. My Grandpa and my family will be there to cheer me on as I cross the finish line. Today, in the last half-kilometre of my run, I pictured their faces and heard them yelling “Go Geralyn.” I imagined getting a surge of energy, and picking up speed as I crossed the finish. I almost began to cry.
I’ve learned this over the past months: the power of seeing the end at the beginning. “Greater things are yet to come,” I’d say to myself on one of my three-minute runs. Running, which is truly only a small thing, became a romantic battle, a fight between myself and my tired legs, my burning lungs, and the lure of the couch after a long day of work.
If I can do this, I can do so much more.
Right I don’t plan on increasing the distance of my runs. I’d rather run 5K a little faster than run 10K. 5K is still too painful to want to run twice as long! But I’ll never say never. These two months have also taught me that. Because I shouldn’t be doing this. I’m built like a Clydesdale, not built a gazelle. I’m artsy, not athletic. I’ve never played sports. But here I am. I probably won’t ever win a race, but I hope that others will look at my tiny example and be inspired to try something that, by rights, they shouldn’t be able to do.