Which is why it was a big deal, to me, to participate in my first "official" (meaning where there were other people and a start/finish line and people were wearing bibs with numbers instead of lobsters on them) 5K race. Thanks to a husband who understood that I wanted to try this first one out on my own, I headed out early on Saturday morning, still making excuses in my head as to why I didn't want to do this.
"I'm really proud of you for doing something that is so far outside your comfort zone," Chris said, and that's exactly it. That's why I felt compelled to follow through. A few of my runner friends have these t-shirts they wear, boasting about a race they completed, and I wanted to earn a t-shirt, too. I started attempting to run back in November and at the beginning, finishing a mile without stopping or pitching backwards off the treadmill was a big accomplishment for me. Since November, I've built up some endurance and wanted to try the 3.1 mile race with the aim to finish, without walking, and without falling into a ditch.
"Do you know where the registration table is?" I asked a lady at the event, who was wearing fancy sneakers and a worn-looking t-shirt that claimed a marathon finish back in 2010.
"I actually have no idea," she said, and since we were both alone, we walked around the venue until we found the small table staffed with caffeinated volunteers.
"Oh, here we go!" she said, and we both checked in, grabbed our bib numbers, and stood off to the side to pin them to our shirts.
"Where should I be sticking this?" I asked, fumbling and awkward and ready to bail because my nerves were fraying.
"They want them pinned to the fronts of our shirts for this one," she said, gesturing to my belly button. "Is this your first race?"
"It is." I pinned the number to my shirt, noting ruefully that the "138" was just three points higher than my Dexcom was reading. "Can you tell?"
"You'll be fine. Once you start, just keep going until you finish, right?" She pulled on her gloves to warm her hands against the unseasonably chilly April morning. "I'll see you at the finish line."
So far outside my comfort zone that I couldn't even see the hazy edge, I finished the race. I didn't walk. I didn't come in last. My pace was decent. My blood sugars didn't tank. I felt proud of myself for following through on this, and not backing out in the end because I was self-conscious. Now I have a t-shirt, and I earned that shit. Oh, and I didn't fall into any ditches and roll down a hill or anything.
And oddly enough, I am looking forward to doing it again.