My almost two-year gastric sleeve journey brings so many rewards. Better physical and mental health are the biggest rewards naturally. After completing my first 10K race this weekend, though, I’ve realized the best reward really is the confidence and pride I have in myself. All it took was running 6.2 miles to get this through my thick head.
When I signed up for this race I admit I was a bit cocky. I ran my last 5K race with my best time ever so I figured it was time to push myself. So what if my pace was still pretty slow and that I still walk and run? I found a 10K race set for about two months later. Perfect! I would be ready and confidant.
As the weeks passed, I started to reconsider my decision. My hamstrings and shoes were bothering me. I missed a week of running due to a cold. Excuses, excuses, I know. I got over my cold and went right to the store for new shoes. I was back on track.
Well, until I looked at the race course. I picked this race because it included running over the Golden Gate Bridge, but in my excitement I forgot I would have to go up hills to get to the bridge. Oops. So with two weeks until the race I added hills into my training. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t fast. “I am going to die” kept going through my mind as I stumbled up hills.
While I was nervous up until the race started, I did manage to keep my mantra in mind: “all you have to do is finish.” Before every race my 7-year-old tells me she hopes I win and I always tell her I’m running to finish, not to win. This past Sunday when I said it I realized I actually am trying to win. I’m trying to beat my previous pace, but really I’m trying to beat my doubts, my lack of confidence and my fear of failure.
So, how did the race go? The first quarter-mile was a lovely start and then the first hill appeared. I braced myself to be passed by “real” runners, but it didn’t happen. Yes, some people were running, but others jogged up and some even walked. Woo-hoo, I wasn’t the only runner/walker! It was a huge relief to know I wasn’t alone in my running method.
Before I knew it I made it to the Golden Gate Bridge. My Facebook friends know from my photos that I have a slight obsession with this bridge. It’s beautiful, spectacular and iconic and I can never get enough of it. To run over it and back was the highlight of the race. It was difficult to navigate at times as the walkway isn’t wide, but when I turned my head to take in the view, it took my breath away…more than the running. I couldn’t help but smile as I ran over the bridge. I’ve lived off and on in San Francisco for over 20 years and this was the first time I ever ran on the bridge.
The bridge is 1.7 miles each way and while it was amazing, the crowds, inclines, and staircases made it difficult at times. I am still getting used to confined spaces and the lack of personal space in races. I was bursting with pride when I stepped off the bridge, but self-doubt tried to creep back in. I paused for a second as I realized I had about two more miles to go. As if on cue, my ever-supportive husband texted me. I laughed and regained my confidence as I scanned his text and saw the words “Pull yourself together! What will you do? Is this a question?” It’s from my favorite Pixar character, Edna Mode from The Incredibles. Hearing hearing her voice and thinking of my husband’s support, got me back on track.
Well, until the last mile when my hamstrings ached and I calculated that I wouldn’t make my goal of finishing in 1 hour and 15 minutes. My spirits dipped and I considered just taking it slow, but I was able to brush off the negative attitude and kept going. I couldn’t finish in 1 hour and 15 minutes, but I could make it in 1 hour and 20 minutes and so I did!
Crossing a finish line never felt so good! The pancakes, sausage and beer breakfast afterward was the best meal I’ve had in a long time. I sat down on Crissy Field with my breakfast and new race t-shirt and stared at the bridge. I sipped my beer and smiled as I then and there decided I really had won the race. I pushed aside my doubts. I kept believing in myself. I came out a winner.
Pushing myself out of my 5K comfort zone into a 10K unknown experience was just what I needed for my continuing weight loss journey. While I’m all for comfort and stability, I know that I need challenges and goals to keep motivated and inspired. While I’m learning to enjoy where I am in my life, I know that I need to push my boundaries and limits from time to time.
I’ve also come to realize that disappointments and failures will come along with the successes. While at times I think of my slower pace and my run/walk style as failures, deep down I know they aren’t failures. Change and growth aren’t always comfortable, but for me they are well worth it. If you told me 3 years and 100+ pounds ago, I would run in a 10K race over my beloved bridge, I would have laughed and said, “Oh, no, not me.” But here I am the winner of my own personal race. Now, that is winning, isn’t it?