Thursday, June 28, 2018

Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned by Running a 5k.

A few weeks ago, I participated in the Running Brave 5k in Redding, CA.  This sweet little race came just at the right time when I was feeling the itch to get back to pounding the pavement.  I signed up a few months ago, and started training about six weeks ago.  There are people in this world that can just pull a 5k out of their hat with minimal effort.  I'm not one of those people.  I have to work my way up.

I have come to realize that running a race isn't just about beating other people to the finish line.  It's also a pretty rich classroom in the school of life.

A change of scenery can do wonders for your motivation.
The Running Brave route went out across the Sundial Bridge, followed the Arboretum loop, and then came back over the Sundial Bridge for another little loop to the finish.  By the time I finished the Arboretum loop and was heading back across the Sundial Bridge, I was tired.  My legs were beginning to ache.  My breathing was labored.  The fresh, adrenaline-filled feeling of the start had worn off.  I wasn't feeling invincible.  But once I stepped foot on the bridge, the air immediately felt cooler.  The ground beneath my feet went from black asphalt to the smoky, lime-green glass panels of the bridge.  And suddenly I was no longer tempted to walk, but felt like I HAD to run.  Because even though I have walked across that bridge probably 100 times, it was still the crown jewel of this race course.  Same feet.  Same body.  Same race.  New perspective=Renewed motivation.

Sometimes you find your strength in the crowd, sometimes in solitude.
There were only a few hundred runners in this race, so as the course went on the crowd thinned considerably.  We began as a solid pack of runners and slowly stretched out into a smattering of solitary people putting one foot in front of the other.  The crowd at the start is invigorating.  The thrill of the start spurs me forward, usually at a faster pace than I can maintain for the duration of the run. But as the crowd thins, I appreciate the breathing room. The competition is no longer with the runners that surround me, but within myself.  Can I keep up the pace while nobody is looking?  Typically the answer is no...I tend to do better in a crowd.  But it feels good and free and peaceful to run alone, enjoy the scenery and be IN the experience.  There is a perceptible shift from "Who am I going to beat today?" to "How can I enjoy this experience today?"

Winning isn't everything. 
I'm going to guess I've run 30+ races during the past 20 years.  I didn't win any of them. Not a single one.  Never even got within spitting distance of a medal.  But I still do it.  Because it's good exercise, sometimes I get to run with my friends, it pushes me to stay in shape, and I like being able to say I did it.  Sure, it means paying $30 for a route I could easily run for free whenever I want. But there's something uniquely satisfying about crossing the finish line (even if you aren't the fastest).  Particularly when your kids are there to cheer you on at the end!

When you create a play-list on the fly, there are bound to be hiccups. 
I had a few extra minutes before the race started, so I sat down and tried to piece together something creative for my run playlist.  I'm not exactly sure what happened but songs that seemed out of place somehow started playing while I ran.  The list was also too short for the time I was running, so my phone automatically went on to the next playlist, which happened to be Christmas music. So, as I was coming around the corner toward the finish, I had an earful of "Oh Come All Ye Faithful." Next time I will plan better!

Scrapbooks come in all shapes and sizes.  
When I was younger, I was a faithful scrapbooker.  I dutifully printed photos, decorated pages and documented each occasion of life.  That promptly ended with kids.  Now I have a billion photos on my computer, various clouds, and CD's. Maybe I'll get back at it one day, but for now I document my adventures with Facebook posts, and by collecting random things like souvenir smashed pennies and race bibs.  It doesn't fit neatly on the bookshelf, but serves the same purpose.  And it alleviates any guilt I might feel about neglecting the long-lost art of scrapbooking.