“The miracle is not that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start. – John Bingham”
This year I have so many things to be thankful for. I have a loving, supportive husband, two beautiful and healthy children and fifty pounds lost that I hope to never find again! With all of that, one would think that there was nothing else to be grateful for but I am ever so thankful that I made the decision to challenge myself and take on running in my first ever five mile “Turkey Trot”.
I trained for six weeks. When I started I could barely run a half mile and the thought of running five miles was really only a dream. Yet, when the day arrived, although mildly nervous I was confident that I had trained and prayed enough to be able to finish this challenge strong. The race began at 9:00 am in a picturesque area of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park called Forbidden Drive. There were hundreds of people who signed up to run and the air was full of anticipation.
First and foremost in my mind was the fact that I had my husband drag our three year old and our 17 month old out in the frigid weather to support me. After I made sure they were sufficiently bundled up, (Mommy duties never rest…) I was able to focus on stretching a little before the race began. The event was truly a family affair with my husband and children there. In addition, my father in law lent his support by running with me! I was extremely happy to have a running partner to get me through the run, as I had never run a full five miles before.
” Before every run is a race between your mind and an excuse. Win it!”
At the start I was confident. I told my father in law who is a half marathoner, I was taking it slow and easy. There were all kinds of people out there running: entire families, young and old and a variety of fitness levels. Although it was a race and the mayor was there to present awards to the top three finishers, the only race I was running was against myself. I turned on my running app to keep track of the miles and the time and we were off!
We were in the middle of the pack, which made for a slow start but once we got moving we were able to get a steady pace going. Somewhere around the one mile mark my father in law pulled away from me but I just kept my steady pace. He came back and got me and we made the 2.5 mile turn around together. Let me just say, when you are cold and a bit nervous it is inevitable that having to go to the bathroom is going to happen. I don’t know if I was happier to see the turn around or the bathroom!
On the way back to the finish line I took the time to text my husband and tell him we were on our way back and then I fixed my mind on finishing strong without stopping. My breathing was still good, my legs still felt strong, and I was beginning to sense that feeling of accomplishment with every step closer to the finish line. When I saw the four mile marker my excitement grew because I knew was in the final leg of completing something that I would have never dreamed of being able to do a year ago. At the 4.5 mile mark, a police officer gave some encouragement to my father in law in the form of a “way to go sir”. I found it kind of humorous that that the encouragement was offered to the marathoner who runs that same path a few times per week, while I, the newbie was given a slight nod of the head. Never judge what a person can do based on age or appearances because little did that officer know, my father in law was keeping pace with me as my support even though he could have left me in the dust.
When we crested the final incline I could see the tents at the finish line. Immediately I began looking for my husband and my kids so I could share the moment with them. As the finish line came into full view, I caught the attention of my daughter who broke free from her dad and ran out to meet me with a big smile and a hug. All the weeks of getting up early, running in the cold, falling and injuring my knees, pushing myself beyond my mental and physical limits to become a runner were instantly worth it when I crossed that line. As I crossed the finish line hand in hand with my daughter on her third birthday, I was overwhelmed by how blessed I really am.
I faced the physical and mental challenge and I completed the race in one hour and twelve minutes. As we end this year and enter a new one challenge yourself to accomplish a new fitness goal. While we were running my father in law asked me to complete a half marathon with him in the spring… What new activity would you like to accomplish?