This morning started early. My alarm went off at 6. It’s always hard to drag myself out of bed at 6, and to be honest, I was feeling quite ambivalent about the whole thing. The grey skies didn’t help, nor the fact that it was only 62 degrees upon stepping outside my door. It didn’t matter. I had to go. Out to the car, down the driveway, on the road.
It drizzled on my drive there, making the prospect of getting out of my car even less appealing. So, upon parking, I got in a fight with my mind. I yelled at it. Kicked it in to shape.
Out of the car, past the back door of one shop, two, a restaurant, and I am there. The rain abated, clouds still covering, humidity pressing down, but now surrounded by smiling faces.
Yes it was early, yes it was warm, yes it was going to rain, but none of that seemed to matter anymore. We were going to run. Together.
This is the experience of Run Camp. This is my fifth? Sixth? season running through this 18 week program. There are always some new faces, always new runners joining us, but there’s a good solid core group of folks that keep returning as well.
Running with them makes getting up in the mornings easier, makes it worth it. They are the only reason I keep going. Conversation comes easy, we run and we talk about nothing, and everything. I’ve heard so many stories.
As someone who enjoys reading and writing, stories are such an important part of my life. I love to hear them, I love to read them, it’s how I connect with other people.
I don’t have permission to share stories here…yet. I’m hoping to talk a lot this season, hoping to be able to share more of other people, to highlight them.
But for now, this is me.
Or it was, anyway, about three years ago. This was a week, or two weeks, after completing Couch to 5k, just before running my first official 5k. Looking back at it now, I can’t even believe that this was the same person. I can’t believe how many mistakes I made that first race. I can’t believe I kept going.
July 4th, 2012, Ishpeming, Michigan: The Firecracker 5k. I had trained. I ran the same path every day – a beautiful winding sidewalk that ran along the shores of Lake Superior in Marquette. It was a gorgeous, and very flat place to run. I had no idea what I was doing. I just followed the program, the words coming to my ears through my headphones telling me when to run and when to walk. I was ready. I had run for a whole 30 minutes during my training. I was going to do this.
I remember it being hot. I was so nervous as I walked to the park with my husband (there for moral support). I was afraid I was going to fail. I was afraid I was going to finish dead last. We wandered around, I found where to get my bib, and shirt. I went to the restroom. I paced back and forth waiting to be told where to go to start.
Eventually we found out that the start was to be in a field, and the course wound through the woods. I’d been hiking. I could climb through the woods.
There were announcements. The voice booming through the megaphone talked about how they were so excited that this was the biggest year ever for this race, with 75 people running. That seemed like a whole lot of people to me.
The gun went off to signify the start. I trotted away, after everyone else. We cut through the field and off to a sidewalk, and then back into the forest. And that’s when the hills started. I had trained on flat sidewalks. Nothing I had done had prepared me for this. The trail was rough, winding through the trees, and around Teal Lake. At least we were protected from the sun by the trees.
I walked a lot. Up hills, around corners, past trees and the lake. I ran too.
I finished in 36:01, smiling, upright, and sweaty.
Since that day, I have gone on to complete several more 5ks, 7 half marathons, and 7 full marathons.
I haven’t looked back, and I wouldn’t have gotten there without Run Camp. I thought about a lot of this as I ran and chatted with others this morning. As the rain poured down, as we ran on boardwalk and sidewalk and street. I thought about how far I have come.
I am always glad in the end that I dragged myself out of bed, that I get out there in wind, and rain and snow. The smiling faces remind me of what running is all about to me – achieving my goals, yes, but also helping others to achieve theirs.
I don’t know what I would have done without them.