Humbling moments have been rare in my life; but today, I experienced a big one.
Three months ago, 96 days to be exact, I committed to do something I had done fairly routinely three to four years ago. I committed to run a 5k race. Scouring through the Ontario race lists I was meticulous with my choice.
a. had to be a fairly flat course
b. had to be early in the morning
c. had to support a charity
d. had to be no more than 45 minutes driving distance and
e. had to be during a month where heat would not be a factor.
The hunt was on… I found a 5K/Half Marathon in the St. Catherines’ area, start time of 9:15am, in support of the Heart and Stroke foundation, on September 24th (cool weather!) and the course looked mint.
As we all know, signing up is the first step and the most simple. The biggest part of committing to anything physical is to prepare your mind and body for it. Well, I failed to train and commit to my training until late August, with only four weeks to go, I started running again; this after a major injury on my meniscus stopped my ability to do any impact training at all, but I started slowly. I also hired a personal trainer to help me with my endurance and strength. Things were going well. Then seven days before the run, I caught a chest cold. I was forced to only walk the days leading up to the run as any form of cardio had me in a coughing fit.
Then, three days before the race, the weather predictors announced a major heat wave in Southern Ontario. Temperatures, with the humidex, would hit over 40 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
My meticulous process in choosing a run was teetering and tottering like an almost-finished game of Jenga. What else would happen?
Oh, how about this, I was the last to cross the Finish Line.
Now, I’m not going to go into detail about the constant mind-fuck of a conversation I was having with myself from the second that start horn went off, or the pain in my injured knee that started at kilometer marker ONE, or the fact that I stopped sweating at kilometer marker TWO knowing that sun stroke was immanent, or that the lady I was consistently ahead of finally overtook me at kilometer marker FOUR and I had nothing left in me to push myself to catch up with her, or that by the last stretch of the race, where all I could do was walk as the heat of the sun and the humidity from the asphalt baked my skin causing my feet, calves and fingers to balloon, I was ready to bypass the finish line and just walk to the misting station to call this day done.
In the 14 other 5K races I have done, I have never once experienced that emotion. I was brought down to the bitter feeling that at the time I finished I couldn’t even rightly process. It wasn’t until almost 12 hours later that I realized what really happened today.
I was forced to face myself. Finally. I had no choice but to keep going today. Walk, dragging my leg at certain points, knowing there was no water for another 3 kms, I had to push myself. And it wasn’t a good push myself like in the gym when I have to flip that tire one more time or get down on the ground for a modified burpee. This ‘push myself’ was just me and the sound of my breath in my ears and sweat in my eyes and ears and lady parts that I hadn’t felt in a long while.
It was just me and me. And we both had to work together to get me to complete that course without crying, without having a panic attack, without worrying about what my boyfriend would say when he saw me.
I crossed last.
And this has never happened to me before.
And it will never happen to me again.
As I sit here and type these last few paragraphs, I would like to dedicate today’s race to the old me – the one who could finish a 5k in 36 minutes; I would also like to dedicate it to the future me who will finish a 5k without stopping in whatever time that means; and finally dedicate it to the current me who found the courage to sign up and go through with it, even though she knew the odds were stacked against her.
And it is also dedicated to all those of you who have followed me and my journey for the last five years. For all those who I ran beside during your first race and who I encouraged on to just keep going. I was thinking of all of you when all I wanted to do was stop.
Being humbled has made me realize how much potential I have to grow and improve.
Thank you, P, for being there for me today. Your encouragement meant the world to me – more than I think you will ever truly know. Axxo