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I ran my first-ever 5k race today.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to the beginning. Running has never been easy for me. I was never one of those people who could just go on a two-mile run with it being no big deal. I never thought of myself as a runner. I’ve always wanted to run, though. Somewhere imbedded deep within my loathing, was this admiration for anyone who laced up their running shoes and hit the road and I wanted to be able to do the same. I tried running when I was thirteen. It was harder than I had anticipated so it didn’t last long. Years later, when I was seventeen, I decided to give it another shot and see if I could train for a 5k. No such luck. I tried running twice that year and each attempt only lasted about a month. I had actually made progress having gone from being hardly able to run around my block without stopping to walk to being able to go for a mile, but it didn’t last. I came to the conclusion that I could not run and I would never be a runner. Maybe I just wasn’t built for it.
Then, at the end of October of this year, I decided I finally was going to do this. In the midst of wedding-planning, I knew that I needed a different and completely unrelated goal to work on between now and April to help keep me sane. I needed something for myself that could give me a break and provide personal accomplishment. Enter running. At first I fought it. No. I had already tried running. It just doesn’t work for me. Come on, find something else. But I also didn’t want to find something else; I had always wanted to run and this was the perfect time to do it. I would run a 5k before the wedding. As a result, one early morning in October, I downloaded a Couch to 5k app on my iPhone, put on my running shoes and headed outside. Starting that day in October, I began waking up at 5am three mornings a week to go out and run. The program started me with intervals of running for one minute and then walking for two minutes and helped me gradually improve. On Thanksgiving morning, about a month after I started, I felt like a runner for the very first time when I ran for a full 20 minutes without stopping to walk. I had never been able to do that before. Once I hit that milestone, every run was a joy and I found myself smiling every time I was out there.
I hit a roadblock in early December when I injured my knee. After seeing my chiropractor, I had to take two weeks off from running and he made me custom orthotics so I could train again. Those two weeks off were terrible and I spent every morning wishing I was running. Once I got the “okay” to run again, there was no stopping me. By God’s grace, I’ve been running again for the past month and today I ran my 5k.
It was a gorgeous morning at Dockweiler Beach for the the race. I was excited and ready to cross this 5k off of my bucket list once and for all. My goal was simple. Run the whole thing without stopping to walk. I knew I could do it, but I also knew that it wouldn’t be easy for me.
My amazing parents came with me and walked the course while I was running. They are the best support team. Seriously.
The route for the run was simple but beautiful. A faint rainbow appeared in the sky before we headed out and it started lightly raining in the middle of the run. I was able to keep my pace fairly consistent even though I started out a bit faster than I should have. The last mile hurt though, and my lungs were burning and my legs aching and I wanted to stop, but I knew that I could do this. It was during that hard stretch of road that I had to remind myself that running is a gift. God had blessed me with the strength to run and the desire to finish and I was resolved to honor Him with the opportunity He had given me. Once I conquered those mental barriers, I was able to finish strong and I was smiling when I crossed the finish line. I had done it.
After the race, I walked and stretched while I waited for my parents. It was still barely raining and I felt amazing. I had wanted to run a 5k for years and had never believed that I could. Today I proved myself wrong. God had sustained me when I felt like I couldn’t go another step and I am so thankful that I was able to conquer this run.
Thank you to everyone who encouraged me and supported me as I trained for this race! You are all amazing.
My 5k is finished, but my running journey is only just beginning. 10k next? Who knows? Just maybe…
Today is my last day as a teenager. Tomorrow, I turn twenty and a new season of life will begin. I’ll enter my decade as a twenty-something. Nineteen has been a momentous year and, even though I didn’t accomplish everything I had hoped, I am content. Previously, I had wanted to find an epic way to spend this last and final week but plans have a way of changing. So, instead, my week was a quiet one in which I went puddle-jumping in the rain, read for hours, explored my favorite childhood bookstore, and had my ankle and knee fixed by my chiropractor. The past six years, from ages thirteen through nineteen, have been filled with challenges and blessings, trials and success, sorrows and joys. There have been so many beautiful moments – just like the ones that this last week has been filled with. God called me His own and I gave my life to Him. I graduated from college. I read more books than I can count. I made deep and lasting friendships. I gained two sisters. I traveled and explored. I met the love of my life and said “yes” to spending my future with him. The experiences and opportunities that I had during my teenage years are ones that I wouldn’t have traded for anything. They shaped me into who I am today and I am so thankful.
Here’s to tomorrow and whatever twenty brings.