I feel very proud of what I have accomplished with my running. However, I hate it when people downplay their own accomplishments by comparing themselves to me. When talking about fitness, I often get, “I ran three miles yesterday, which is nothing for someone like you…” or “my little run must seem silly to you..” Not at all! It is all about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. I am especially excited if I can be part of someone taking those steps toward fitness.
I know a woman who has struggled with her weight. She is determined to get in shape and has started walking. Walking for an hour is difficult for her, but she does it. She puts one foot in front of the other and gets out there. Good for her! I am sure that often her walk is harder for her than a six mile run is for me. So is that any less of an accomplishment?
I recently had a friend complete her first 5K. To me, in some ways, that is as big of an accomplishment as running a marathon. She isn’t an athlete and has been working hard to get out there and run. She doesn’t run fast, but she runs. That 5K was a big step and a scary one. When you have never run a race, it is an intimidating thing. She got out there and did it and I am super proud of her.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to pace my sister-in-law in her third 5K. It was a beautiful morning at the beach and a small, fun race. Kristi likes to run with music. As we were lined up at the start, she said to me, “I know it’s silly, but I am really nervous.” That’s not silly at all! It is totally normal to be nervous. I still get nervous starting a race. Any race. I told her that the nerves would help her. She hadn’t run much since her 5K on July 4. Her work schedule had been crazy and between that, her three-hour round trip commute and raising her five-year-old daughter, she didn’t have a lot of extra time to run. She warned me that I would be running my slowest 5K ever. She convinced herself that it would be her personal worst. I told her that she might surprise herself.
We started off and her nerves had her running a bit faster than we ran in July. I told her that she had plenty of room to slow down. It was a beautiful sunny day in Malibu and it was starting to get hot. The race didn’t have any water after the first mile. I was proud of Kristi who kept going with a smile.
There were three runners right by us at the starting line who told us they were running their first 5K’s. I congratulated them. When I saw them out on the course, I cheered them on and when I saw them afterward, I asked how it went. I think it is important to encourage runners of all shapes and sizes to push themselves and to celebrate it. They were all very excited and proud.
As we were deep into the second mile, I realized that we were on pace to come pretty close to Kristi’s last 5K. I pointed out the finish line and told her that she definitely wasn’t running her slowest 5K. I encouraged her to pick up the pace a bit. She dug deep and sprinted toward the end. As I stopped my Garmin, I was so excited. Her time was 34:29—eight seconds faster than her previous PR!! As I showed it to her, I was as excited as I would be if it were my own PR. I had tears in my eyes as she realized that she had pushed herself hard enough to achieve a personal best.
Once again, I had a great pacing experience. It reminded me that each accomplishment needs to be celebrated. Each person has his/her own obstacles to overcome. Whether an accomplishment is someone taking that first walk around the block, running a 5K PR or qualifying for Boston, we need to recognize it as a personal achievement, I am fortunate that I am able to be part of several women achieving their goals. In the next several weeks, I will be celebrating even more accomplishments as two of my friends complete their first half marathons and another her first full marathon. I’m looking forward to it!
Congratulations to Tess on getting out there and walking/jogging, Mellisa for running your first 5K and Kristi for setting a new personal best. You are all stars!!