A couple months ago, I was convinced by my friend, Jessie, that we would start running together again and run another 5K together. We had run together before, almost every day at one point, as she helped me to train for my first 5K over four years ago. We decided to do it again, set ourselves a goal, and work towards it. I even convinced a third friend, Kirk Ann, to run with us.
Back when we ran regularly, I was feeling pretty unhealthy and wanting to make some changes with my life. I ate better, took up running, signed up for the San Francisco Marathon 5K race, and even raised a couple thousand dollars for the American Institute for Cancer Research in honor of some very important relatives that I had lost. That first race was pretty tough as well as rewarding for me. Shortly after running it, I even came to find out that I was pregnant, like my body had turned on a switch for healthy enough to have a kid.
After that race, I had signed up for other 5Ks. All in Oakland, with the last one resulting in a pretty big fail. My husband and I had signed up to run Oakland’s Running Festival 5K back in April. Unfortunately, we went out the night before and barely got any sleep the whole week prior to that. That led to waking up later than expected, and that led to rushing to the start line, and once there and still feeling pretty crummy, so we got a beer and some ice cream… and walked home.
This time around, the three of us had signed up for the Oakland Pride 5K, which was just around the lake that is down the street from me. The sign up was even free. All things considered, it was no inconvenience us, making even more reasons to run it.
As summer came to a close and school started again, it was clear that finding the time to run together was going to be difficult. We have our kids, our families, and our daily lives to attend to. It was easy to push this goal to the back burner as running didn’t seem like a fun task at all. We would see each other and talk about how we haven’t trained and really aren’t in any shape to run it.
The day of the race came fast and it was clear we were not prepared. My running shoes were still dusty from the last hike I used them on, and I remembered that at least I still had some kind of exercise to prepare me for whats ahead. I rolled out my muscles and stretched in preparation for the pain that was inevitable. I considered my last 5K and the personal disappointment of not following through with it.
Even though my body felt like crawling back into bed, I was woke up a little bit more when I saw my husband and my daughter both up so early to get me to the course. As my heart sank to realize that it was so early that I couldn’t even get my daily caffeine-fix at Haddon Hill Cafe, I turned around and was encouraged to see both Jessie and Kirk Ann heading my way.
The air was cold, and our bodies were sluggish, but we made it to the starting point. It was a little confusing because of some organizing hiccups, but we weren’t going to investigate the situation. Waking up early on a Saturday and making it to the start line of an untrained for 5K was already a success in my book. We stretched with the group, mentally unprepared for the loud dance music played onstage. My daughter, Evie played around us and helped me stretch as we got ready to start.
Then the air filled with confetti and we were off.
The crowd was fun and festive, and filled with all shapes and sizes. Sometimes races are filled with your typical super-fit running types, making it a little intimidating as I’m a pretty slow runner, but this wasn’t the case here. Honestly, I was more intimidated by the thought of trying to keep up with my friends who are both much taller than me, but as it turns out we kept a good pace with each other for most all of the run.
Lake Merritt is no stranger to crowds on a Saturday morning too; walkers, neighbors walking to the farmer’s market, other runners, dogs, a lot of people were out that day. We ran, and talked, and even walked around the lake just enjoying the race. The sound of drummers, the check-in tables with cheers of support, the people watching, even the dj’s morning dance music, I just soaked it all in and tried to keep running.
We made it to the finish line, and enjoyed some drinks at the end. My husband took all the photos I have for the event, and did a pretty good job at documenting it. Afterwards, we walked to the awards area, munched on some snacks, stretched out on their mats, and I couldn’t help but feel good about the whole thing.
In the end, we weren’t ready, but still did it. The small success of even showing up was now overshadowed by running it and finishing. It really is helpful to get that little bit of encouragement from friends and family who show up with you. I’m glad I did it, I almost feel like I made up for my last 5K. I’m glad I got to share it with two of my closest friends here in Oakland. I’m also glad that even though we had other responsibilities, that we could make this goal and stick to it.
Maybe one day I’ll be more motivated for these things. It’s not easy to make and feel success with fitness goals. Although I’d rather not run, there are a lot of things that helped me to get to that finish line. I guess that can also translate to real life, you will come across all sorts of trials and sometimes the support and encouragement can really make the difference. Be that person for someone else, because you never know if you can provide that little bit of hope and comfort. Surround yourself with those types of people who do that for you and life does get a little easier.