Twelve weeks ago, I started training for a 5K race with a program at Fleet Feet because I wanted to prove to myself - a cancer survivor - that I could do it. I was never really that athletic and if you told me at 9 that I would willingly run 3.2 miles for fun at 39, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. At 9, I hated running the stupid mile for gym class. I barely ran and walked most of the dreaded mile. I did okay in those physical fitness tests because I could rock the sit-ups (I held the school record for the most sit-ups in 2 minutes), but run a mile in under 15 minutes. Yeah right.
Our running group started off walking 3 minutes/running 1 minute then progressed to walk 2/run 2 and walk 1/run 4 until we ran our first actual mile. I did fine with the interval training, but running the miles was a little tough at first. In November, Mike convinced me to do another 5K in Rockville just to see what I could do. My plan was to run for at least 4 minutes and walk when necessary because that's what I had been doing. Four minutes turned into five, six, seven minutes until I was at my first mile. I felt pretty good so I kept on going until I finished. Not bad! I finished in about 32 minutes so my goal for my actual 5k race I was training for became to finish in under 30 minutes.
Some of those training runs were brutal - it got cold and windy around here. There were days I just wanted to stay home but I stuck with it. During my runs at that critical moment when I wanted to stop, I'd remind myself that I beat cancer or that a year ago I could barely walk a mile and now I was running. It worked and I continued my training. Mike also joined our group a few weeks ago to help the running coach keep track of all of us since we were either fast runners or slow runners and she was stressing herself out trying to keep an eye out for everyone.
I ran the 5K Jingle Bell Run for arthritis this past Saturday. It was cold - 22 degrees. I thought about staying in bed, but I layered on my clothes and set out for the race. People were decked out in santa hats, jingle bells attached to their shoes, or in other holiday attire. Some crazy person wore shorts. Our group met inside the warm Frederick Armory building for the pre-race activities and photos. We also gave ourselves a pep talk to remain strong, despite the weather. Soon, it was race time. My run went great. I started off strong and took the lead in my running group. One of the guys who I usually ran with, stayed just behind me, but we kept encouraging each other. After we crossed the finish line, he told me he had stayed behind me because he didn't want to catch up for fear I'd make him run at my pace! I finished the race at 29 minutes, 31 seconds - YEE HAW - under 30 minutes. It was awesome.
I'm already planning my next 5K - the Cherry Blossom 5K on April 5. That's also marks the 2nd year "anniversary" of my cancer diagnosis. Once again, I'm just proving to myself that I'm a strong woman who beat cancer. It's kind of my victory lap.