I used to say I didn’t believe in running. I also used to say I would never give birth. Apparently 2013 must be the token year for challenge and change, because six months ago I labored my son into the world and this weekend I’m running my first 5K race.
It’s somewhat humorous that I signed up, because I don’t even run for the subway. Ever. Even when I’m late or there is construction over the weekend and I know I’ll be stranded for 20 minutes before another crowded train arrives. I have weak knees to contend with, exacerbated by years of gymnastics and soccer, so running is pretty much the opposite of fun. Nonetheless, when a coworker mentioned that she’d recently signed up for a race, my interest sparked. Our conversation took place during one of my final days at work, at a time when I was feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of being an at-home mama. My outside job was the only outlet I had away from baby boy and the time was drawing to a sudden and unexpected close. I needed a project or a class sans baby and she made a compelling case; a glow-in-the-dark run with an after party, dance and a laser show included. How could I refuse?
Laser show aside, there was a bigger reason I agreed to run, one generated by the Boston Marathon this April. Upon hearing the reports, chronicle of events and personal stories in the aftermath of the bombings, I felt particularly struck. Boston is very close to my current home. I admit I read the news too much. It’s just what I do, despite the fact that it often leaves me feeling stripped. Sometimes there is nothing to be done, but often there are petitions to sign, protests to attend, conversations to start, funds to donate etc. Usually though, that’s not enough for my own sense of relief and peace. At the end of the day my anger or devastation has stirred and helplessness settles to the bottom all over again. What I desired (and desire now) most of all is for human violence and hatred to cease to exist. Around the globe. Not just close to home.
Listening to my colleague speak with such excitement about the 5K, it hit me how much runners love what they do. In fact many of my friends are avid runners. Though I highly admire them, I kind of always thought they were a little crazy. Over the years I’ve been invited to 5Ks and half marathons only to shrug them off. This time a lightbulb went off. I felt that in some small personal way I could lift myself above helplessness and actually take a stand, or run with Boston. I could get an extra pair of legs in a race that never would have been involved prior. I could petition, fight back peacefully, whatever you want to call it, by entering the race.
For now a 5K is quite enough for a non-runner who’s only been jogging for a couple months. I’m still not a lover of the sport and I have no clue if I’ll ever physically build up to a longer run. It doesn’t really matter. Participating has brought me a sense of peace and opened a door I never expected. When I signed up I thought about Boston and other world events that leave me feeling helpless. I didn’t think about the fact that training would give me an opportunity to see my dear childhood friend every day while I was in Kentucky. That because of my knees I would need to visit the park, near our NYC apartment, several days a week to practice on the track with others. That my two guys would be present and cheer me on ever single time I go, sitting under the canopy of trees, picking grass and socializing with other children and dog owners. I didn’t expect to reunite with friends at the park or that this run would bring my whole family the opportunity to bond with our local community. What started as a goal sans baby has evolved into time spent with the whole family, friends and neighbors. For me running, or jogging really, is much like giving birth. The actual process isn’t exactly fun, but the return is truly beautiful.
Wish me luck!