It wasn’t a big race, there were no prizes, I didn’t have to train or make sure I had the right outfit – – I just had to show up and be ready to run.
And not even the whole 3.2 miles, mind you. I could walk it along with my 76-year-old mother and my 8-year-old nephew – who I heard got a little surly around mile #1 and sat down in protest. Hey! I didn’t like running either! The most I’d run in years had been the day before when my sister Wendy and I challenged ourselves to run 2 miles around a lake. And I’d only done that because I was scared to run a whole 5K – even if all the money was going to the Colorado flood victims. I would have rather given them the dough because the thought of hauling my middle aged body over hill and dale was enough to make me chuck.
“Hell yes! I’ll run it!” I said, when when my little sister Amanda – total stud runner –invited me and everyone else in my family to run. I’m pretty competitive – I didn’t want to look like a slouch on Thanksgiving Day. No, I was going to work for my meal. Of course Amanda didn’t give two hoots who ran it; I’m pretty sure she invited us so we could watch the crew of kids she’d just begun coaching, but which ended up being one brave 7-year-old boy.
Of course I didn’t actually see them running because they were way ahead of me, so I’m taking Amanda’s word for it that she actually ran the thing. I did see more runners than I’ve ever seen in one location, including a lot of people who thought that running was hilarious because they were wearing stuffed antler ears and turkey feather headbands.
“Running is not funny!” I wanted to shout. “We’re all going to get sick and throw up!” But it was too late, BANG, the gun went off and a crowd of 800 people started running in unison – – first in a kind of walking shuffle and then the huge body of the crowd started moving into a trot, then a run.
“Shouldn’t we be in the back with the little kids?” I nervously asked my sister Wendy. “We’re going to be trampled!”
But we didn’t get trampled – the turkeys and the moose people ran past us, and after a bit Wendy ran ahead and so did 683 other people, leaving me and 191 runners to bring up the rear.
Huffing, puffing, ambling along, I ended up running with a nice middle aged couple around my age who informed me that if I finished the 5K I would have worked off 1000 calories and could eat as much turkey as I wanted.
“Turkey?” I wheezed to the man, “who counts turkey calories?”
I also ran with a tall, 20-something who had on loafers and a leather jacket. “My mother signed me up,” he admitted. And of course myself, I ran with me, myself and I.
“Hey, this isn’t so bad,” I thought.
“Ugh,” I replied.
“No, you got this.”
“Bet there’s a blog post in this”
“Really?” I picked up speed. Honestly, the idea of killing two birds with one stone – getting some exercise AND writing a blog post is very compelling. I lifted my head and looked around. It was a bright, cold, sunny day. The gorgeous snow covered mountains were right in front of me.
“But do I have to finish the race to write the post?”
“We’ll seeeeee,” I told myself. “Let’s talk after mile one.”
At mile one I thought for sure I’d already run at least two miles.
“I think I might be sick,” I told myself.
“You can stop anytime,” I cooed.
“Just a little farther,” I lied.
“What’s one mile when you can do two?”
What’s two miles when you can do three?
And that’s how I ended up running the whole 5K. I cajoled myself into it. Sure there were possible blog posts and metaphors at every turn; the hill, the blinding Colorado sun, the flat road, the pock marked road, the runners who ran past me, the ones I ran past, the way the road curved here but went straight there.
But after a bit I forgot all about turning my pain into a blog post and I fell into the rhythm of my feet. Even the chatter in my head died down to whispered protest I could barely hear.
“Laurie!” my family screamed as I came around the bend and into the last lap of the race. None of them, save my sisters had actually finished the race, but had ended up ditching the whole thing after a mile. There they were – my adorable teenage daughters, my nieces and nephews, my amazing Mother –laughing and cheering us on. I forgot all about how much I hated running and just kept going all the way to the finish line. And we all know there’s a metaphor in that!