When you think you can’t go any farther, you really can. When you’re scared, or sad or worried, it’s amazing how your legs can still carry you, pace-by-pace, to the finish line.
On May 5, my cat ran away, and I was worried sick that she was eaten, mangled or lost. But somehow, the next morning, I ran my first 10K race. My focus shifted from the cat and to the excitement of joining 300 others as we jogged over the wet asphalt runway of the Saint John Airport. With no music, all you could hear were people’s steady breath, and the slap of their shoes on the flat stretch of road ahead. With the heart at a steady rhythm and my mind set in the moment, all I thought about was putting one foot in front of the other. This is why running rocks: it clears your head. Because when your body is being challenged, it’s as if the energy from all your worries and fears are sucked out of your brain and into your muscles and heartbeat.
I was so tired, but I kept going. And while it hurt, it also felt amazing. I crossed the finish line at 55:17, which blew away my goal of 1:00. I placed in the middle of the pack for the 20-29 age group of female runners. I honestly had no idea how I would do. I hopped and skipped for joy across the finish line, making bystanders laugh. I almost cried.
People wonder why runners do it. Why do they keep extending their distance, entering races and setting new goals. Why do they risk injuries and sacrifice late nights out so they have the energy for the Sunday morning long run?
For me, it’s simple. When you train, you reap the rewards. Not only do you get the gratification of self-improvement, but you feel good in every fiber of your being. And it’s a high that reverberates long after the race.