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The Jacksons, Week 31: Running for My Life
Filed under: Healthy Families Challenge
I mean, I just finished my first-ever race, a 5k, a little more than two months ago. My personal trainer, Jenn Hall of the University of Mississippi campus rec department, was the first to urge me to go for it. After months of working out with her, she said she knew I was up for it.
So, slowly, I began to believe that I really could do it. And soon I was telling my family and a few friends that I was going to tackle the 10k, one of the featured events in the Double Decker Spring Run, in Oxford, Miss.
So, now it was public. It was on record. I had to run it.
In the days leading up to the big event, I began to feel insecure about my ability to pull this off, but I knew, eventually, that I had to push myself to conquer this big feat.
But... run 6.2 miles?
Done! Hello, 10k victory!
I pushed myself and won the race -- metaphorically speaking, that is. I crossed the pad, standing erect (well, maybe a little hunched over from exhaustion) and on both feet. That peeps, is a major win for me! Thinking back to the days before the Healthy Families Challenge -- me, running in the first two races of my life within months of each other?
Are you kidding me?
On race day, I actually felt lithe. I'm not exactly a picture of agility and nimbleness, but when most of my doubts cleared, I was ready to conquer the awaiting hills and growing exhaustion that would test my will. We would run through Oxford neighborhoods, downtown, the UM campus, and past Rowan Oak, novelist William Faulkner's childhood home.
It was ethereal.
Quite the throng of racers was poised at the start as we all waited for the go-ahead. Next to me and other runners and walkers stood a small squad of local firefighters in full gear, including some with oxygen tanks strapped to their backs, also waiting to begin what would be an even greater challenge for them. Showoffs!
Among this relatively fast group of runners, I finished near the bottom bunch of my age group, which was comprised of more than 350 runners. But I wasn't last, an achievement my ego enjoys.
I discovered how you can tell when you're rounding out the bend during a race:
* When volunteers posted along the path ask you if, "You know if there's anyone else behind you?" Ummm, no. I'm not keeping track of their times, sirs.
* If random homeowners and residents stand at curbs to cheer you on, saying things like, "You're keeping a good pace. You're almost there." What a very nice and supportive touch.
* When the tables that presumably used to hold cups of water and Gatorade along the way now are devoid of refreshments. Random homeowner, can I have a glass of water, please?
If a late runner crosses the pad and hardly anyone is around to see it, did she really finish the race? It's an age-old question. Hours later, it was a relief finally to see my name among the race results.
The thought of stopping -- but not ever quitting -- did permeate my thoughts. About halfway through the race, it was the extended version of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" filtering through my ear buds, courtesy of Pandora, that gave me the extra push I needed to drive my body up the hills and soldier on along the endless pavement.
What made me think I could run a 10k? My body is a much better version of itself now than it was before the HFC, thanks to better eating habits, increased rigorous fitness and a renewed commitment to health.
Once the body's about there, the heart and mind will follow.
Who's the rest of the competition? Check out all the challengers' latest updates here.
Check out how the other families are doing!
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.