In first grade, I learned that I was a slow runner.
We were in P.E. class, playing a game called “Snow White.” One person was Snow White, and they stood in the middle of the gym, while the class ran across. Snow White tried to tag as many people as possible, while avoiding getting tagged by the Wicked Queen.
I was a lanky, energetic 6-year-old, and of course I raised my hand eagerly when the teacher asked who wanted to be Snow White. It surprised me when the entire class burst out laughing when I was chosen. The teacher said, “Now, just because someone isn’t fast, doesn’t mean that they can’t be tricky.”
I was surprised to learn that I wasn’t fast, and that apparently this was common knowledge in the first grade. I was quickly tagged by the Wicked Queen after everyone safely made it across the gym.
And thus began my dislike of physical education class.
In fourth grade, when we did relay races, I was moved to a different team for each round. I was the only one who was moved in this way. And everytime I was put on a new team, the members of that team groaned.
We did physical fitness testing every year, and I learned that I was not flexible. We had to do this v-sit, forward bend, where they would measure how many inches we reached past our feet. The last time I did it, I got -10. My teacher told me that I needed to be more flexible.
Our teacher had a quarter mile track drawn in the grass behind our school, and we would occasionally go out to run a mile. I learned that for some unknown reason, my legs would start screaming at me well before a quarter mile was up. I could, however, walk indefinitely.
Over time my legs became very muscular, but I was never able to run. I even tried a couch-to-5k program in Prevention magazine. I could do intervals of running and walking, but I never could run very far in a stretch.
We moved to Texas, and Rob and Ili rocked her school “Mustang Stampede,” while I took pictures from the sidelines.
And then this happened….
Yoga has changed my life in many ways, and running is one of them. Stretching my hips and hamstrings allowed me to take a larger stride and run without pain. Shortly after I started practicing yoga, I decided to sign up for an untimed 3k “Family Fun Run.” Ili ran the 1k.
By August, it was time to try a real 5k. Rob and I signed up for the “Night Moves Trail Run.” We would run the race at night, then camp in the park where it was held. My training was going well, and I knew I could do it!
We excitedly lined up at the starting line, and everyone was too shy to go to the front of the group. Knowing I would be passed, I marched to the starting line and announced, “I am going to be victorious!”
Once we started, I was in the middle of the pack, and Rob was in a commanding lead. Then we entered the woods, where the trail was poorly marked. After tripping over a few roots, I walked with a group of other runners, trying to find our way with someone’s GPS. I actually stopped at the rest stop and poured water over my head. Then there was more getting lost, until we found our way to the road, just in time for an ending sprint.
Much to my dismay, Rob was not at the finish line to cheer me on. My time was terrible–I had finished my first 5k in 57 minutes. But still, I had finished my first 5k! I marched to our tent to give him a piece of my mind, but he was not there. In fact, he was nowhere to be found.
At this point, I was starting to get worried. We had been given GPS trackers, so I asked the officials if they could track him down. It turns out that the GPS trackers were not working.
Finally, after an hour and a half, a very exhausted Rob ran across the finish line. It turns out that he had gotten lost by himself, since he had been in the lead. At one point he had ended up on the 10k course., and, regrettably, he had not stopped at the rest stop.
I decided that my medal was well-earned! And surprisingly, I finished in the first half for my age group.
September came along and brought with it another trail race, the Zombie Run. This time, it was light out and the course was well-marked. However, we had to wear belts with strips of ribbon velcroed to to them. During the course, we would encounter “zombies,” who would try to pull off the ribbons. Once all the ribbons were gone, we were “dead.” There were prizes for the winnings “survivors” and “zombies.”
This race was a challenge, because we had to sprint everytime we encountered a zombie. It was actually a relief for me, when I was finally “dead.” In the end, I finished in the top third of my age group, with a time under 40 minutes. Rob was a “survivor” and finished in second place overall.
The rest of fall passed without any fanfare, until we were greeted by a chilly December, and my friend suggested that we run in the “Santa Hustle” in Galveston. This was my first road race, and the temperature was in the 40’s.
We ran in a loop, and the longest stretch was into the wind, along the seawall. There were over 1000 runners, and all three of us set personal records, because we were so cold and wanted to get it over with! My time was 34:58, and I finished in the top quarter of my age group.
That was the last 5k I ran, for a long time. The next school year was extremely difficult, and it took me a couple years to get back on my feet. Then 2020 and the pandemic happened. We did a virtual race, the “Social Distancing Run,” but that was hardly scientific.
So here we are, just coming off of a spike in Covid, but still with things returning to normal, especially in Galveston county, where the virus hasn’t been as bad. September 30 is my 43rd birthday, and when Rob asked me what I wanted, the answer was easy.
It was time to start running 5k’s again.
I am determined to eventually run a marathon, but I want to keep doing 5k’s until I break 10 minute miles. Then I will move on to 10k’s, and so on.
So we found ourselves a race in Galveston, and I actually trained a little bit this time.
This race was a road race along the seawall, and it was not officially timed. However, I do know that I finished in 33 minutes (not sure how many seconds). So it definitely was a personal record! Rob finished 4th overall.
After the race, we enjoyed a walk on the beach…
…and a lovely lunch with a view!
We picked up Ili, who was with her grandparents, and she wanted to go sailing. She enjoyed being on crew, so I had an easy time!
Iliana was right at home at the helm!
When we got home, Iliana informed me that she is going to start training for her first 5k, and she asked me how I stretch. She and I have the same tight legs, so I showed her how to do my pre-run yin stretches.
I should have known where this was leading! As soon as her stretches were done, Ili changed into running clothing and said, “Come on, Mom! It’s time to start training for my first 5k!”
She did impressively well, for her first day of training. And I think I will sleep very well tonight!