Several months ago, my best friend, Beth, who I’ve known since 8th grade, invited me to run the Color Vibe 5K with her- her first 5K. At first I decided that I absolutely would not- it was Mother’s Day weekend, after all. Then I started thinking about who I AM instead of who I WAS, and realized that I’m exactly the kind of mom who would choose to do a fun and messy 5K with her kids as the focus of my Mother’s Day weekend. So I signed up and the kids were free! As I talked about it over the past few months, reminding them that it was coming their way, Jude would look at me with fear. For him, this did not sound like a treat like it did for Gigi and me. To him it sounded like a lot of work.
I decided to make this a mama-K. We would go at intervals, at his pace, slowing on hills, walking when needed, drinking lots of water, talking about Pokemon and resting if necessary. It went pretty much as expected- Gigi took off like a rocket and ended up finishing in 32 minutes (the race actually turned out to be 3.5, not 3.1 miles, according to both of our GPS).
Jude knocked my socks off. He ran almost the entire way. At the beginning, he told me that he wanted to run the entire distance. I said we would try, but the secret would be going as slow as we needed, so that’s exactly what we did! We jogged, sometimes as slow as we could have walked, but we jogged the entire distance with the exception of two blocks, which were also steep hills. He was amazing! I was so proud of him as he crossed the finish line! I have an amazing boy, an amazing girl and I decided that it was definitely the perfect way to celebrate Mother’s Day!
Several months ago, my BFF, also the friend who invited me to this race in the first place, started on her own personal body project: she wants to lose weight so she can live a fuller life. She was just sick of the weight hanging around, same as me, and moved mountains to get on track and get it off! She was cruising along pretty well and she hit a plateau. Then she stayed on the plateau. And stayed and stayed and stayed. Frustrated, to say the least. She was eating the right foods, keeping treats in check, but still couldn’t lose more pounds! It was then that she dedicated herself to a walking plan. She signed up for the Color Vibe 5K, invited her community to come along with her and started training.
I’m telling this story in painstaking detail because I want to make the point that we all start out somewhere. As a teacher, I’m always talking about how we each have a unique set of skills that come in a unique sequence. We develop at different rates, and exercise is no different.
When Beth started out, she was a slow little turtle who couldn’t go very far. Part of it was her little boy and part of it was her fitness level, but a big part of it was her belief in herself. I watched her do it and I recognized it because I did the same thing when I was considering starting the whole exercise thing up, too. Exercise is scary for those of us who haven’t done a lot of it. There’s a lot of opportunity for failure, rejection humiliation, self hatred and shame in the exercise world and, of course, we all stay away from situations with potential for that cocktail of emotions. But she did it. She kept doing it. She walked, tracked it, talked about it online and did everything in her power to succeed at the race. And even though she got overwhelmed, even though her back hurt, even though it was hard, even though she wrote to me on Thursday asking if she should really do it, she trained until she thought she could, and then she did it. She crossed the finish line at a jog, today, and remarked that it wasn’t that big of a deal at all to finish a 5K. I was so proud of her! But even more importantly, she was proud, too, and she gained this whole new view of herself as a powerful, capable woman who can kick butt and bring IT! Even on some unexpected stairs…