My first-ever athletic feat

It’s funny that all my college friends think I’m athletic. Ask anyone who knew me prior to Mizzou; I am definitely not. I was the most uncoordinated kid in gym my entire education. I failed at every sport my parents tried to put me in. I tripped over my own feet and hit my head all the time.

But since late high school, I’ve been getting more and more into fitness. I started working out, then started doing Pilates. I added strength training and became an instructor. About a year and a half ago, I started running regularly as my form of cardio, and now I’m considered a runner by most who know me.

I just read in Women’s Health that you’re more likely to stick to a fitness routine if you think of it as part of your identity. Well, it’s definitely part of my identity at this point. I’m a runner and a fitness instructor, and I’m pretty devoted to my workout regime.

However, the absence of sports from my life persisted until today, when I ran my first 5K. Not just my first 5K — my first athletic competition of any sort.

I was convinced to sign up by a friend who’s training for a 10K. I know of many people less fit than I who have run races, so I got to wondering why I’d never done one before. Because I was too cheap to pay the entry fee? Because I didn’t want to get up early on a weekend? Both are probable excuses, but I decided not to let them deter me anymore.

I signed up for a 10K in a few weeks and a 5K today as practice. The 10K will be a challenge, but my typical daily run is about four to six miles, so a 5K shouldn’t phase me.

However, I was still a bit nervous going into today. What time should I get there? How much should I warm up? What happens before and after? All silly questions that didn’t matter seeing as I had no competitive investment, but still — I’d never done this before!

Needless to say, everything worked out fine. I had plenty of time to stretch and warm up, I made it home in time to shower and go to church, and — best of all — the race itself was way better than I expected, even though it was shockingly cold and windy.

I paced myself by those around me, letting my competitive edge push me to keep those ahead of me in sight and not let those in my peripheral vision pass me, but I also wanted to simply run my own race, stay steady and finish strong. On my longer runs, my pace hovers around 8 or 8:30 miles, so I was shooting to break 25 minutes.

I did all those things. The girl in my blind spot fell back in the first mile, and I passed the girl ahead of me in the last half-mile. I kept a steady pace the entire time, with a sprint at the end.

Best of all, I came in at 22:43 — 7:20 miles. I’m way quicker than I expected.

So now I have a race completion and time to be proud of. But what’s more, this race gave me a boost of motivation. It’s so true that training for something is much better than exercising just for the sake of exercising. I had no expectation of winning, I don’t consider myself fast and my running will always be primarily to burn calories, but I was so much quicker to get out of bed and run the past few weeks because I knew my workout was for training in addition to trimming. I even did an extra run on Friday, which I normally would have a difficult time convincing myself to do.

Now that the 5K is over, I guess I run the risk of losing that extra mojo, but I have the 10K to look ahead to, and maybe I’ll sign up for some more races. If nothing else, I now have a 22:43 to beat.

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