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SparkPeople: Weekly Community Highlight
  Week of 12/31/2009 - Featured Board Post

Lessons Learned
KATIEHENEGHAN



What a Race!!

I woke up this morning knowing that I had a race ahead of me. I set some goals for the so-called Winter Waddle including a 10 minute mile goal. I'd come close before and hadn't hit the mark, but since it's been awhile since my last 5K and I have a couple of longer races under my feet, I felt confident that I was up to the challenge. I figured it would be just your typical 5K with lower temperatures since it's December in Minnesota and I'd want to run fast to get out the cold as quickly as possible... It was a nice theory, but the reality of the race soon proved that theory wrong!!

I got to the race in time to warm up, hung out in the clubhouse since they figured that we could stay indoors pre-race and post-race, and got ready to run. The race officials came in and announced that it was time to line up and all of the racers filed out to the starting line. And that's when it hit me-- this was no ordinary 5K race, it was a true Minnesota winter race and would be run entirely on the golf course in the snow measuring between 1 inch and 9 inches deep. Suddenly my easy afternoon race turned into something that I'd never imagined doing.

I started out strong and within a minute realized that my chosen pace was not going to be something that I could keep throughout the course. I ran up and over hills, turning my ankles as I broke through the top layer of unbroken snow, questioning whether or not the race organizers had noted this kind of course and I just hadn't read the race summary thoroughly enough. All I knew was that I had to keep running, no matter how slowly. I focused my eyes on the single track that had been tread by the pack ahead of me and kept my head down as the afternoon light faded, knowing that eventually I would reach the end and be an official finisher. I ran for what seemed like forever, and after the longest 5K of my life, I crossed the finish line in 41 minutes and 43 seconds-- my slowest 5K race by over 8 minutes.

The crazy thing is that even though it was my slowest 5K ever, other than my first one, it was by far the most rewarding. During those 42 minutes, I used many of the lessons I've learned on my journey to better health over the last 2 years and solidified my desire to continue to challenge myself.

Here are just a few of the things I relearned:

1. Even if you aren't the best at something, you can inspire others through actions, words and deeds. At the end of the race, a woman approached me at the finish line and thanked me. I'd never been thanked before at the end of a race, so I was pretty confused. I'd passed her a few times while she was walking and she would pass me when she would run. She told me that after awhile, she realized that we were about the same pace and she just settled in right behind me, watched my feet and ran the rest of the way on my heels. I thought that it was really cool that I could help someone finish. Much to my surprise, 2 other women came up to me at the end of the race and thanked me too. I soon found out that there was a line of 6 women running right behind me and I was their “mother hen.” How cool!!

2. When things don't go as planned, being positive, flexible, and patient with yourself will always help you move forward, even if it's not as fast as you wanted to go. The race was hard, but I changed my goals on the fly without thought that that equated to failure, allowed myself to slow down, stayed positive, and finished what I'd set out to do.

When you are consistent, you'll be more confident when things don't go as planned. Like I said earlier, I'd never planned to do a 5K in the snow. Fortunately, my training and the many other skills that I've learned on this journey gave me the confidence to continue even in the face of adversity.

When you meet a challenge, it will propel you forward to achieve the next one. Yes it was only a 5K, but after today, I'm no longer afraid of making the jump from the 10K races I've done to running a half marathon. It will be hard, but I know that I have what it takes to make it!

Thanks for reading and letting me share my experience with you! Happy journeys!



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