Saturday, March 9, 2013

Celebrating Mardi Gras During Lent

Late last year, I started thinking about learning to run.  What do you mean “learning to run”? You just take off and run don’t you?  Well, not exactly.  You see, I’m still a bit large (but shrinking), and I wanted to be able to start running without hurting myself (or others) in the process.  My only other running attempts were in small intervals of 30-60 seconds with a LOT of walking in between.  I’d walked a couple of 5k’s but that was all.  I prayed about it and then just kind of put it on the shelf.  After all, I’d never even thought about being a runner before.  The only time I ran in my childhood was when something or someone was chasing me, or mom called me in to dinner.

The first part of January, I saw a flyer at our local community center advertising a 9-week running clinic called “Couch to 5k.”  I took a flyer home and called the instructor to check it out.  Forgive me for being a skeptic, but other times I’ve gone to “beginner” workouts, I have been sorely disappointed.  For example:  the time I went to a Zumba class and the “instructor” didn’t explain any of the moves before hand and did the whole class with her back to us.  Everyone else already knew the moves and I was totally lost.  Haven’t tried another class since.

Anyway, the certified running coach, a lady in her late 50’s who’d run several 5k, half marathon, and full marathon races, was a delight to talk to.  She sounded very patient and sweet.  Though I still wasn’t convinced, I agreed to try it anyway.  The first sessions were agony.  Every time I started or stopped the running motion, it felt like someone shot me in the back of the leg with a nail gun.  My coach just kept encouraging me to keep trying (and stretching).

As the weeks went on, I looked forward to every session and started enjoying it more and more.  Every week was a new challenge, but it was great.  Fast forward to today.  It’s the end of the running clinic and our final session is the challenge of completely running The Mardi Gras 5k in Oxford, Alabama.  Five kilometers; 3.1 miles (what’s with the extra 0.1 miles?).  Until now, I’d only been able to run two miles at a time, so this was the ultimate challenge for me.  Plus, the course had hills (WTC?!)  The goal for the day was to run the whole time and finish the race in 45 minutes or less. 

The running route took us on from the Oxford High School track to a brief tour of downtown Oxford and back to the track again.  It’s amazing that the only time I wanted to quit was at the very beginning.  Not on the hills, not when I drank water too fast and almost barfed, but at the BEGINNING!  I admit to having the mental hang up of wanting to turn tail and run from situations where I feel out of place, and this race certainly qualified.  But, I set my pace and kept going.  I had my tunes in one ear, and my running coach in the other.

I ran the entire race, finishing in 47 minutes and 36 seconds!  I know the goal was 45 minutes, but I say CLOSE ENOUGH.  A victory is a victory!  I hugged my coach and thanked her over and over again.  I was so jazzed!  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to shout.  I wanted to run around the track doing a William Wallace FREEDOM scream!  Yes, I did behave myself. 

So what’s next on the running front?  Well, I plan to keep running (I really do like it!) and I plan to work on improving my time and run more 5k races.  I’d say that today was an awesome celebration of Mardi Gras!

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