A partially cloudy eastern sky came alive with the morning colors as the sun awoke in Kent, Ohio. In the pre-dawn hours, I had prepared myself for my first 5K. Running shoes laced and tied – check. Blue and gold identifying my allegiance to my alma mater– check. iPhone queued to my C25K playlist – check. It appeared that I was ready. The big question of the morning was if I was mentally ready for the day.
For the past five weeks, I trained in a Couch to 5K program under the direction of my best friend Chuck. I had planned to run my first 5K after completing this eight-week program. The perfect storm conspired to shorten my training. Today’s Black Squirrel 5K benefiting my alma mater, Kent State University, was four miles from my front door. The run had a cool t-shirt with a running black squirrel logo. I was feeling more and more confident as our C25K runs went by. I threw caution to the wind. I signed up to give the black squirrel a run.
This run is something I will remember in the years to come. My emotions were high along with my expectations and enthusiasm for the day. My pal Chuck’s encouraging words during our practice runs, at our Friday lunches, and in our texting set the stage for me to succeed. Last night I finished The Courage to Start, the first of John “The Penguin” Bingham’s running books. During and after the run, the following paragraph from that book inspired me to succeed.
“For me, running comes down to equal parts inspiration, perspiration, dedication and celebration. Each of these components is essential to a lifelong program of running, and each contributes to keeping running fun. “
Inspiration – I love stories of inspiration. John Bingham and my pal Chuck inspire me with their dedication to run. Running has led me to inspire myself to go into uncharted waters and find a new side of myself I did not know existed. It never occurred to me that there could be such a thing as self-inspiration.
Perspiration – Running was very hard the first time I laced those shoes and set out for a run. It is getting easier with every run. I want to be a fitter, healthier person and I now know that running will be part of me achieving that goal. No pain, no gain and there will be sweaty times.
Dedication – Today’s run was an exercise in dedication. I faithfully prepared myself for the run. Once the starting pistol echoed in my ears, I focused on how I could succeed and let that positive attitude fuel my energy for the run. As I crossed that finish line, I reaped the rewards of being dedicated to running.
Celebration – In my weight loss journey, I learned the importance of celebrating victories. Today’s celebrations were small but memorable; the police officer on Main Street giving me the thumbs-up, the students on the Commons cheering, and my husband, friends and my friend Chuck with his camera at the finish line. There were many outward celebrations today, but I know I will inwardly celebrate running in the years to come.
Fun – John Bingham has it right. The combination of inspiration, perspiration, dedication and celebration work together to make running fun. I share his philosophy that fun plays a very important part in our lives. Today’s run brought running full circle to me. I remember those warm summer nights when my friends were running to catch fireflies. For almost fifty years, I told myself that running is not for a person like me. It was something relegated to athletes and the fit and trim. Crossing the finish line changed that voice in my mind. I now am ready to run more with Chuck and his group and look forward to my next race on Mother’s Day.
Since getting to know you over the last few years I have seen your grow so much as an athlete. Yes an athlete. You have said many times you were never an athlete.
Most sporting endeavors, running being one of them are 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. We don’t have to measure ourselves as athletes by comparing ourselves to others. It is what we have inside. We are athletes by how we measure ourselves, by our own resolve to achieve what at one time we thought impossible. That is what makes an athlete.
I know your have hear me say that the race is the easy part, it is getting to the starting line that is the hard part. The training and dedication takes days and weeks the race is over in 30 minutes. It is the countless hours thinking about and training for that race that make us ready so when the gun goes off all we are doing is executing what we already know we are able.
Today has been an emotional day for you. You did great things you went where you never thought you could go. The so called runners high good. I’ll be the first to tell you it happens after every race, eery good run and after ever little goal is reached.
Today’s race probably meant more to me than all my other races combined including my marathons. I had a dream to be able to share my sport with others, to start my own group and share my love of running with others. Today I had 5 good friends and my best friend in you share this day with me. We all completed our runs. For a few it was their first 5K after a long layoff, for a few others it was their first 5 k ever, and for me it was my first 5k I got to share with my friends I have helped introduce the sport to. Yes today was a good day…. no a great day.
You rocked it, the look on your face crossing the finish line will be forever be engrained in my mind. It will be a constant reminder why I started the group. Your resolve to do this and your dedication and energy to put towards the Spinoffs inspire me. Your friendship is one of my most valuable possessions.
Congratulations on a job well done you jock!
Tom & Chuck, positive inspirational words from both of you! I feel blessed to have meet both of you & proud to call you friends! Paula Bz.
Tom, Congratulations! You did it! I think I was happier to see you cross that finish line then when I crossed it myself. Your love of life shines through you and I’ve been blessed to see your progress over the past few weeks. You really are an inspiration!
Chuck, Paula and Amy, Thanks for your comments. The run really was important to me. When I turned off Summit and saw the top of the finish line, I got pretty emotional. As I got closer, I looked for a familiar face. Right behind that finish line was Chuck and Amy. I was so proud to finish the race with both of you cheering me on. When Jone came in, it was a real special time. I do like our running group and hope to run more. I need to get some more 5Ks under my belt but I know Chick wants me to expand my running. I am ready for it. It’s funny how just a single race can change your view on running and your abilities. Thanks to all of you for running glacially slow with me these past five weeks! Tom
Wow. I am so glad I found this post. It is totally inspirational and makes me want to cry tears of joy! I am so happy for you and your friend Chuck. Reading his comment to you was so sweet! It reminds me of the relationship I have with my brother who also encourages me via text messages etc. It is so awesome when people like Chuck reach out to encourage others. They don’t just keep what they have to themselves. They take the time to teach and encourage other people and to share what joy they have found. I am so happy and I could just cry again right now!! Congratulations!