In 2004, I re-met my first love of 20 years ago, Anthony. He and I had both changed quite a bit and part of his big change was that he was running again. Running to him is what makes things right. It gives him focus, strength, peace and personal challenges. I keep telling him how he inspires me. He inspires me to set goals for myself, to challenge myself, to be more positive and to never give up or settle. He never has to motivate me or push me, he just simply leads by example.
Part of Anthony’s running regiment is to sign up for a lot of races around the GTA and some out of town. I started going out to all the races with him. I love everything about race day. Wake up early, eat, drive to the race, listen to inspiring music along the way, watch runners get warmed up for the race, watch people’s excitement and just being part of something positive. The best part is to watch Anthony come in usually in the top 5% of runners and cheer him in. I also always get to talk to other spectators and we of course talk about the people we’re supporting. I never hear anyone complain that the weather’s crappy or the waiting is too long. And so, began my love for running and for races.
In the spring of 2005, I decided to give running a try. I thought that I was in great shape since I’d been power walking for a couple of years and eating right but as soon as I tried, everything hurt. After running for only a minute I would experience stitches in my side. It was extremely disheartening but I decided to read up on it, ask other people what to do, tried breathing exercises, went to see a physiotherapist and nothing seemed to work. I tried to run for 1 minute, walk for 1. I tried running through the pain but it just got worse. I tried not eating before a run. I tried eating before a run. I tried not drinking as much. It seemed that I had tried everything. I kept telling myself though that I would never quit trying. I even signed up for a few 5k races and didn’t do too badly. I needed to stop often because of my stitches but that was fine. I enjoyed the buzz of running a race and pushing myself. I also realized that I do better when I compete.
In August, Anthony and I celebrated our birthdays. We decided that every August, we would give each other a challenge each for the year. So for me, he gave me the challenge to run a wee 5k without stopping or under 30 minutes. His challenge, a triathalon. We were both up for the challenge.
Yesterday, I ran a 5k in Ajax. When I woke up, I felt nervous because I knew that I wanted today to be the day that I met my birthday challenge. My stomach wasn’t accepting food well but I kept quiet and just got on with the day. When we got to the waterfront, I warmed up, stretched and was ready to run the best race of my life. Anthony was there at the start line cheering me on. So off we went and I felt like I hit a wall right away. I started too fast and started in front which meant quite a few people began passing me. I know that runners experience mind games and so I just refocused and just reminded myself that I run 5ks almost everyday and this is no different. I slowed my pace a little and stopped once after a hill. Anthony and I had forgotten our watches so I didn’t know how well I was doing so when I got to the finish line and saw the clock read 27 minutes, I threw my arms up in the air and was so incredibly proud that the moment had finally come. I ran across the first matt and in my excitement, I went straight toward Anthony. He then yelled at me to go over the second matt and so had to go back. After they took off my chip I went back to him and asked him what my next challenge was.
Slowly but surely, I’m getting there. I’ll never truly know why I’m plagued by stitches since it’s never bothered me when I was young but I keep trying and hope that one day, the stitches will be a thing of the past. With the continual support of Anthony, my running club, XSNRG, and sheer determination, I know I’ll get there.
My next goal is to run another 5k and shave off yet another couple of minutes, if not more. I’m also going to work on stamina and longer distances. That’s the beauty about this sport, the challenges are endless because you’re always competing against yourself.
2 loves and one accomplished challenge in one year; life has never been so good. I never dreamed of running into my first love again and building a future with him and never thought I would be part of such a terrific sport. I’m looking forward to an exciting future and setting more challenges for myself in the years to come.