A year ago today I went to watch my first 5K. At that time I was not even contemplating running one myself and it would be another 2 months before I actually did one. Of course, this year, when that race came around again, I had to run in it.
What a difference a year makes. The night before my first 5K I couldn't sleep. I was a basket of nerves all morning, I thought the butterflies in my stomach would keep me from even being able to start. This morning, with at least 7 races under my belt, was just another morning, punctuated with a nice run to start it off. What once seemed like an insurmountable distance is now my bi-weekly workout run. Where a year ago I hoped I would just finish, this year I had a target time to beat (and did, by 2 minutes!).
Today, though, was about much more than a time or a distance. Today's race was all about what is most important to me about this journey. A friend of mine ran her first race today and as I plugged along I felt her presence on the course the whole way. It was such a thrill to see her approaching the finish line with a smile on her face and run with her up to her big finish.
I re-learned a second lesson today too. I'm usually the one who gives encouragement and am not so good at asking for or accepting help (though I'm getting better). Today, another friend I didn't expect to see was doing the race and ran the entire course with me. I do all my training on my own, in fact, I do most everything all on my own, so I wasn't sure how much I was going to like this. I was ready to sink into my tunes and just do the race. He asked me at the beginning what time I was hoping to do. And at every mile marker, he'd calculate where we were and say "Oh yeah, we're going to make it for sure." A few times, when I was flagging, he'd say "Come on, you have a time to beat! Let's go!". Now he could have done the race much faster without me but he was determined that he was going to help me reach my goal. He didn't get up planning to do it, he didn't know I was in the race, but once there, it was just the right thing for him to do...and the right thing for me to accept. I learned a lot more than how to pump my arms going up a hill today. I learned to use my strength to pull someone else along, and to let myself receive the same.