Last Sunday my dear friend Gina and I ran the Twin Cities 10 mile from Minneapolis to St. Paul on a beautiful fall morning. And yes, I’m writing a post about it. I don’t want this to come off as a “look at me and what I did I’m so awesome!” post. No. Thousands of people ran this race. Even thousands more ran the marathon following this race (16.2 miles MORE than what I ran). So I know I’m not unique in what I accomplished. But this was a big deal for me, so I wanted to document what I learned while training and running my first long distance run. Maybe someday my kids will read this and it will encourage them. Maybe it will encourage you. Maybe I’ll need a reminder someday.
1. Just sign up and set a goal.
I started running about 5 years ago. I have never been athletic. I was never an athlete in high school or college. I am not skinny with long running legs. When I first started running I could only handle about a minute before stopping to walk. I was envious of my friends who ran for “fun” and who made it look so easy and who finished half marathons and marathons. I thought that could never be me. I worked up to 3 miles and even ran a few 4 and 5 milers, but then would stop for months at a time (I blame the Minnesota winters) and then would have to start all over again. I always wanted to run a long race, but never thought it would be within my grasp. But this summer I started running again and it felt good and I thought maybe, just maybe, I could train for the 10 mile. Maybe if I just signed up for the race it would force me to train and stick with it. I wasn’t running for speed or a certain pace or time. I just wanted to run the whole 10 miles without stopping to walk. I wanted to finish. I signed up and set a goal.
2. It’s always better with friends.
I honestly think I caught Gina at a weak moment when I asked her if she would run it with me. We were at the lake together and I knew it was the last day to register for the lottery and I really didn’t think she would say yes. I mean, she is a crazy busy working mom of four kids, one of which isn’t even two years old yet. But she was too nice to say no. She’s ran marathons before so this little 10 miler was probably no big deal for her, but it was a big deal for me. And it meant so very much to me that she was running it with me. It was such great accountability and encouragement. And she even had a very rough and emotional week leading up to the race, but she stuck with her commitment when anyone else would have likely thrown in the towel. It would have been so much more difficult without her by my side so I’m so grateful.
3. My kids are watching me.
I need to learn to practice what I preach. All these messages I’m giving my kids about self-confidence and moving out of your comfort zone and rising above the anxiety and being brave…. I needed to do something for myself that forced me to deal with all of those same issues that I struggle with. They watched me set a goal, work hard, take time for myself, ask for prayer because I was so nervous, and then go and accomplish it. They realized that running 10 miles without walking was not easy, but their mom did it.
4. A cheering section is the best thing ever.
Darin was so supportive. The kids made me the best signs. They cheered me on from two different spots and didn’t complain about the cold or all the walking and waiting. My mom came and watched. My neighbor yelled my name as I ran by her at mile 7. I received texts from friends and family throughout the day. I also had lots of encouragement leading up to the race. It’s nice to be cheered for and lifted up from the sidelines. It’s what kept me going.
5. I learned to stop being so hard on myself. I learned that I can do hard things.
There were some runs that I felt like I was going to die. It wasn’t easy. Many negative thoughts went through my head. I wanted to quit. I questioned what I got myself into. I regretted telling anyone about the race in case I couldn’t do it. Why was a non-runner like me signing up for a 10 miler?? My hip hurts, I’m old, I’m slow, I don’t look cute in spandex, the course has hills, how am I going to handle hills?? I had to stop the negative talk. Thankfully I had a lot of that cheering section speaking life into me. And with a little help and a lot of prayer I started to have faith in myself that I could do this, that I can do hard things. My friend told me that running long distances has empowered her. That it has changed her….overcoming something we tell ourselves is impossible and then we start realizing the possibility of other things we thought impossible being within reach. And I see that now.
6. Smile and be proud and be thankful and then set another goal.
I’m giving myself permission to feel proud of what I did. Normally I’m pretty quiet and don’t really talk too much about anything I do or accomplish. But it’s okay to be a little proud. I smile and tear up when I think of accomplishing this goal. I actually did it. It was a big deal for me. I didn’t set any speed records or run a marathon, but I did something I thought was unreachable not that long ago. Time to set another goal.
Here are a few photos from that day. God bless my husband for taking my camera and trying to capture us as we ran by them and quickly said hi before running off again. They were at the top of a steep hill and we were so excited to see them. And don’t you just love the signs my kids made? I adore them. I was nowhere near first, but I sure felt like a winner in their book.