In 13 days I will be attempting something I have yet to attempt in my vast 25-year lifespan. I will be participating in my first 5K race.
The last time I willingly participated in a race of any kind was field day in about the third grade, where you get a ribbon just for being there. Actually, the race I'm remembering involved bouncing across the finish line on one of those large inflatable balls with the handles on the top, so maybe that doesn't even count.
In the sixth grade, to encourage us to join the track team, the gym teacher walked us over to the high school track and had us race around it. At that point, finishing near the back of my class and feeling like death, I pretty much decided that running was not something I enjoyed or wanted to do on a regular basis.
That has been my attitude ever since: I don't like running. I'm not good at running.
But here I am signed up for the YMCA's Run/Walk. And I'm pretty excited about it.
Unlike previous attempts at "racing," this one will be official with a bib number and finishing times and a T-shirt for participants. The Y's sign-up website says you get a trophy or a ribbon if you are among the top three finishers for your particular race and age group, but I'm not even remotely hoping to walk away with one of those. My goals are to finish and to not be the last one across the finish line - although, that I could handle as long as I did end up finishing.
Fast is not the word for how I run. Much like my cross country skiing efforts, I can move forward at a steady pace and that's about it. Once the snow started melting and skiing was no longer an option, I took up walking. Then I decided to see if I could run a mile. And I could. So I tried for two miles. And I could do that, too.
Maybe it's something about spring and just wanting to be outside, no mater what the activity. Every other day after work, I go home and change into my running clothes and run my route through Ishpeming. It's usually rough in the beginning, but by the end I'm happy I went, not to mention feeling more prepared for the race on April 23. Discovering a pace that allows you to breath like a semi-normal human was a major breakthrough for me.
Do I love running? Not yet. I don't hate it like I used to.
Having something to work toward, a specific goal, helps. It's almost like having a deadline for your column. Making an attempt at a 5K race is giving me the chance to explore an activity I never allowed myself to really try, just assuming I hated it. If I still don't enjoy running after the 5K, I can always stop then and I'll at least have that experience to look back on as an accomplishment.
I'm getting the feeling, though, that won't be the case.
Editor's note:?Mining Journal Ishpeming Bureau reporter Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.