My phone rang on a chilly December afternoon and it was my sister reminding me to register for a 5K race which was being held in Atlanta the third weekend in January.
I reminded her how the entire family knows, despite not having its speed, I resemble a gazelle as I leap and bounce when running. I do not like to run! Her response of "you do not have to run the entire race; you can walk if you need to" was informing me loud and clear the phone call was a reminder to do it not a question if I was!
Race day arrived. It was a gray Sunday morning and while most were happy the forecasted rainstorm held up I was silently wishing it would pour for I felt I needed an excuse for my slow performance. I was feeling nervous for I am not a runner but at the same time I felt the energy of the racers around me and was feeling anxious to begin.
The race began and the large crowd slowly began walking out of the starting line but soon began thinning out and the running began. My sister is one of the most dedicated people I know regarding working out and I knew my slow speed was not her goal. I did not want her to slow up for me so I made a vow that I was going to work extra hard. I shouted out "are you ready to run?" Let's do this!
My legs began racing down the road and I was getting excited. I was amazed when I reached mile one and I could feel my adrenaline rising as it seemed I arrived at that point quicker than I imagined. I almost did not recognize myself!! Police officers were stopping traffic to allow the racers through the busy streets of downtown Atlanta, photographers were snapping away and people were watching and cheering us on. It was amazing. I was actually running my first 5K race at the age of 57!
There were a few moments I could feel my leg cramp up and I started to get a little doubtful if I could complete the race. My sister kept assuring me that our timing was really good and that I should not worry. We stopped running for a bit and briskly walked and I felt sore but better.
Runners who started before us were finishing the race and I noticed them walking next to the road cheering us on to complete it too. They were enjoying their end of race treat of hot cocoa and chocolate fondue with pretzels and marshmallows to dip inside. Oh how I love chocolate and I wanted my cocoa too!!! Despite beginning to tire I shouted let's just get this over with baby and we RAN.
The adrenaline of arriving at the finish line was something I never experienced before in my life. I did not feel the pain in my leg and honestly at that point could have probably run another mile.
I wanted to cry as I hugged my sister and jumped up and down screaming WE DID IT BABY! YAY!!!!!! WE DID IT!!!!
After the excitement ended it hit me that I had just completed my very first 5K race at the age of 57!!!! I could not stop thanking my sister for not only inviting me but encouraging me to do this with her.
The next day the race scores were posted and of course I was not the best runner but I did not do too bad at all!!! Out of 296 people in my age group I came in 125th place which to me was a gold medal.
Thanks to my sister I left my comfort zone. I now realize the only competition I have is within myself and I have the ability to win my own personal gold medals in so many aspects of my life.
The road I travelled the past 57 years is far longer than the miles remaining. It is time to tie up my laces or hit the keyboard or get on the treadmill or read books. It is time to volunteer and join the clubs. The word can't must go away. The word try must be erased. I have two choices moving forward and they are Do or Do Not!
Everyone had different goals the day of the race however we shared one thing. The finish line! Some runners were real fast and some slower but we were all in the race together. We were all encouraging each other not to focus on the discomfort and the potholes in the journey. Together we were doing this!
I am not a professional writer as I type this piece. I am not a professional fitness instructor as I work out. I am not a professional chef as I make dinner and I am not a professional athlete as I look for my next race.
I will never have the speed of a gazelle!!!
Worrying about being the best at any of these things are only dead ends that keep me from stretching, growing, learning and trying. This gazelle is ready to keep hopping and find other corners to race through.
I look forward to answering more ringing phones and even if it pours I am jumping, leaping and dancing in the rain. It does not have to be a pot of gold at the finish line; believe me hot cocoa and chocolate are pretty good incentives too!
The race of life is on and I feel unstoppable!
At the age of 57 I ran my first 5K!
Yes I can! Yes I did!