One of the goals I had set for 2016 was running a 5K.
Why is that such a big deal for me? Well, even though I’m physically active and I do a lot of things like dancing, yoga etc., running has always been a challenge for me. First of all, I never fell in love with it. Second of all, I get cramps even after running for 10 minutes. Also, believe it or not, my teeth start hurting if I run outside.
In order to get over my fear, I figured pushing myself to run a 5K would be the way to do it. I mean, the only way to grow is to overcome our fears, right?
During the year I got sidetracked with projects and work. Then I realized that there is only one month left until the end of the year and my goal hasn’t been accomplished. So I started browsing the Internet and signed up for the first 5K I found that was for a great cause. It was a “Miles of Music 5K” to raise money for the “Youth Mentoring Foundation”. I loved the cause and it worked out with my schedule, so why not?
Well that left me with about 2 weeks to train. What I didn’t take into consideration was that I was booked every single weekday AND weekends. Also, most of the days I had double shifts. I managed to run once on the treadmill and twice around the block. However, neither one of them exceeded 1.3 miles and it would take me about 20 minutes to finish.
So here I am on the morning of December 11, the day of the race. I had gotten no more than 5 to 6 hours of sleep in the past two weeks and no training. I was up at 4 AM. I just couldn’t sleep anymore. I decided to meditate and envision myself crossing the finish line. I believed in it so strongly and I told myself that I’m ready.
So here I am, ready to take the challenge. I don’t know how I managed to be in front of the start line. I looked to my left and to my right and I saw all these athletes that probably run every day. I started questioning myself. “Who am I kidding? What if I can’t finish?”
Well, that lasted for a few seconds because I heard the bell and it was time to run. For some reason I got inspired by the energy of the crowd and I started running really fast. Within 600 feet my ankles started to hurt really bad. I had millions of thoughts going through my mind: “I had barely started the race and I’m already hurt? I thought I could do anything.”
Luckily I remembered that meditation I had in the morning and I decided to calm my mind and slow down. I had a few runners stop by me and try to cheer me on. I encouraged them to move forward and told them I’m going to run slow and steady. I felt my heart racing and the fact that a lot of runners were passing by me didn’t feel too good. I tried to focus on my goal, which was to finish the race with no stops at all. Everyone runs for different reasons. Some people just like running and some do it for a great cause or because they love the community. My goal was to overcome my fear and prove to myself that I can achieve anything I set my mind to while inspiring others to do the same!!!
As it was becoming more difficult step-by-step, I turned around the corner and what did I see falling from the sky? Fake snow provided by CBS studios and a Santa that was high-fiving everyone. I opened up my arms like a little kid that saw snow for the first time and I had a huge grin on my face. That made it all worth it!
I continued on until I reached my first hill. It was like everything was moving fast, except my mind was so slow. I did a great job detaching myself from what was happening and I tried to meditate as I was running. If you calm your mind and just let your legs do the work, it seems so much easier.
The first lap was really difficult and I was thinking that there is no way I can do 2 more of those because I was already tired. Then I heard “Congratulations, your first lap is over”. Me- “Really? All I have to do is two more?” I started telling myself “You know what Veronica, now that you’re warmed up, you can probably run 5 more miles”.
Guess what? I kept repeating that to myself and somehow within a few seconds I started believing it. Talking about the power of your mind ☺️
Here it goes again, I high five Santa one more time. I enjoy my fake snow and go on to start my 3rd lap. All of a sudden running became so easy. Am I the same person that a few minutes ago didn’t think was going to finish one lap and now I want to run more?
When the third lap finished it was almost as if I was disappointed. “That’s it? But I can do more”. That thought just made me smile and I rushed through the finish line hearing people cheer.
“I did it”!!!!
I had no idea how long it had taken me. It felt like an hour. I asked one of the runners what time it was. He looks at me and says “you finished in about 26 minutes”. I was in shock!!! “What do you mean 26 minutes? I did? But I never ran more than 1 mile in 20 minutes before, how is that possible?”
It’s hard to explain what I felt when I finished the race. It was a combination of pride and strength. I had tears coming down my face. I was excited and I was in shock. I had all of these feelings going through my mind and I had no idea how to control it. Within the next few minutes I found myself finishing a Nesquick milk shake, a banana, a piece of bread and I was still looking for food. I was really hungry.
I got a text with the results showing that I finished the race in 24 minutes. Really? Me? A non runner? Someone that was so scared to even try?
I did it 🙂 I believe that if I can do it, anyone can!!! One runner came up to me and said “If this is your first time doing a 5k, you’re a natural runner. That is really impressive, you need to sign up for a 10K next year”. I looked up at him and said -“Why not?”
I hope this becomes an inspiration for you guys as there’s nothing impossible in this world. If you set your mind to it and believe that you can accomplish anything, trust me you will. Start with small steps like I did. Run a 5K today, accomplish something bigger tomorrow. Every victory, no matter how small or big, is a step forward to your success. It’s another step to your fulfillment and your ultimate happiness. Accept the challenge and believe that anything is possible.
Veronica Parks #VPLove