I started off 2009 with a goal-setting frame of mind. It was in the early morning hours of the new year that I decided that I was going to accomplish something I’d never done before: to run a 5k. Specifically, the Ras na hEireann USA, a 5k that is held every St. Patrick’s Day weekend right in Somerville.

While I decided to participate on January 1, I decided not to immediately sign up for the event, as I didn’t want to commit to something while still feeling the sweet elixir of New Year’s Eve running through my veins (a classy way of saying that I didn’t want to sign up while tipsy). But I got all the paperwork filed and settled in to train.

Partway through the training process, right as I was starting to really feel the addiction that comes with running, my knees went out on me. One day I was fine, the next I was wondering who replaced my knees with a 60-year-old woman’s knees overnight. What it came down to was a combination of needing new running shoes and doing too much too soon. And I was struggling and frustrated with the idea of having to relax and do anything other than run.

As the big day approached, I changed my goals. I wasn’t going to worry about running fast. I was going to settle on a nice normal pace (I was shooting for a 10-minute mile, nothing crazy) and complete the run. It was an entirely singular experience that I wanted to have while running. Just me, my iPod and the course. I would not stop. I would not walk. It’s my first 5k, my first distance run outside since I was playing sports. I was going to set my normal competitive side aside and just complete something that I’d never done before.

Which is precisely what I did today. I haven’t gotten the official results yet, but I think I was right around the 10 minute mile mark. I had good moments, I had moments where I was laughing and smiling (bagpipes on Holland Street was an absolute delight), I had moments where I struggled (Powderhouse Circle and Broadway – ugh), and I had the combination of a perfect running song (Travis, “Selfish Jean”) and a shot of adrenaline that found me passing people as I made a strong finish across the line.

I did not stop. I did not walk. I packed all the competitive thoughts into a corner of my mind and focused entirely on completing something I had never done before.

I did it and I feel absolutely fantastic. I can honestly say that I am very proud of myself today. And that I can’t wait to run this again next year.

When I crossed the finish line, though, it should be noted that this chant popped into my head and set me laughing as I headed off to find water and try to track down my other friends who had run the race – to whom I offer congratulations congratulations until I can give everyone hugs in person.

***UPDATE: Results are in! I’d wanted 10 minute/mile pace. Clocked in at 9:36. YESSSSSSSSS***

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