Moving to Florida was totally new for me, because I had never been in such a busy area before. I learned how to cross busy streets, and I discovered the joy of riding my bike to and from work. When I started running last year, I found that I was dreadfully afraid of running on the streets.
Some people don’t care what gets in the way of their pristine SUV. Also, I had never run on a road before, and for lack of a better word, I was shy. I spent the last few months training for my first 5k race. The training took place in some parks, and on some streets, but I tended to run only on back roads in my neighborhood. When I had to hoof it on busier roads, I usually walked until I reached another small neighborhood, and then I would run again once out of view of the main road.
I knew I enjoyed running, but I felt silly doing it in view of so many people. One day I decided to Google it. I typed “I feel silly running on main roads” into the search field. Gosh, you would not believe how many people out there felt the same way that I did!
Naturally, I decided that entering a 5k would help me cure the tendency. I was very nervous about my first race, which took place in North Palm Beach– the annual Halloween Ghost Run. I joined the crowd of runners, and when it was time to take off, I did so begrudgingly.
The sound of feet pounding on pavement surrounded me, and I tried not to give the girl in front of me a flat tire with my big toe. It was the strangest sensation, running with all of those people– because I’d never done it before.
I spent the whole morning reminding myself of the tortoise and the hare. “Go slow, don’t run fast,” I told myself. I have a habit of speeding up– it takes a lot of concentration and intention for me to keep my pace slow and steady.
Within the first mile, I felt like I was floating. It was early morning, so it was cool out, but I was developing a cold sweat, and my entire body felt like it was covered with pin-pricks. I immediately worried if this feeling was bad, but I kept running. I didn’t slow down until the water break. I took a drink, and kept running. My throat hurt. My body felt odd, weightless– my head felt light, as if it was hovering above my shoulders.
After a while, those feelings went away, and I began to relax. I ran most of the three miles, and it took me 38 minutes. I have never run so much in such a short amount of time– it was a personal best! For a first race, I did very well. I was number 192, and 14 in my age group.
As I started running, I recall a feeling of euphoria. I had never done this before. Years ago, if someone had told me I would run a 5k, I wouldn’t have believed them. It seems like a small thing, but I grew up very isolated, and I was never involved in sports. I stayed away from it because the kids who bullied me were often on sports teams, or frequented the school gym. When I was a kid, sports equalled certain humiliation.
Amazingly, running is becoming a physical and emotional outlet for me. It makes me so happy! I wish I could go back in time and tell the little girl that I once was– “Don’t worry, kid. You’ll be just fine.”