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Examiner
  • Pacing myself: Running as an adult takes different motivation

  • I awoke at 6 a.m. and enjoyed a protein-filled, frozen breakfast of eggs, cheese and ham. I laced up my running shoes and drove to Independence City Hall. The sky was gray, spitting wimpy rain drops every 10 minutes.

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  • Happily so, I didn’t sleep in Saturday morning.
    I awoke at 6 a.m. and enjoyed a protein-filled, frozen breakfast of eggs, cheese and ham. I laced up my running shoes and drove to Independence City Hall. The sky was gray, spitting wimpy rain drops every 10 minutes.
    I crossed the street and dropped my four canned good items in the donation barrel at Community Services League, grabbed a couple more safety pins for my race number and began warming up.
    At the starting line of Saturday’s second annual Circle the Square 5K, I stood in the middle of the pack. My iPod blared the start of my running play list, a luxury unknown in my high-school running days. (How did I ever run seven miles at a stretch, without stopping, on dry Kansas country roads? How did I manage to not die of boredom?)
    I didn’t hear the official start siren or whatever organizers used to get the race under way. I just followed the pack, pacing myself up the steep hill on White Oak Avenue.
    I went the entire first mile without even thinking of walking, and at some point, the following thought began playing on repeat in my mind: “I’m actually doing this. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when I didn’t think I could run again.”
    I’m really trying to not sound dramatic here. I thought my days of lacing up the well-worn Nikes, stretching in toe-touching form and then hitting the pavement for a couple of miles without stopping were finished.
    In high school, I was a runner. It defined me. I trained hard and often, and I considered myself a failure if I didn’t take home a medal from each meet.
    I didn’t break any records, but I ran varsity cross country and track all four years. I was reliable, only experiencing an injury at the tail end of my sophomore year in cross country – and even then, I still practiced and competed.
    “Never again,” I told myself post-high school. Never again would I put myself through the pre-race jitters, the pain of shin splints, the damage from having my skin under the worst sunlight of the day. I wanted other hobbies and interests to define me.
    In the decade since, I’ve run a handful of races, but the advance training didn’t take place. I’ve gained weight (although some of it was needed). I don’t have a coach or a team any longer. I’ve consumed way more pop than I ever want to think about, and sadly, it’s slowed me down.
    Saturday’s Circle the Square was different. I really trained for it – and I went at it alone, without a personal trainer and without one of the most well-known high school cross country coaches in Kansas.
    Page 2 of 2 - I turned to social media for inspiration and motivation, creating a running-dedicated board on Pinterest and posting regularly on Twitter about my training progress. By January, I told myself I would run at least one monthly 5K race from March through August.
    Some nights, after covering a meeting and filing a story on deadline, I really wanted to go home and just read or go to sleep. But, I made myself change clothes and hit the treadmill five or six days a week. “No excuses,” many of my pins on Pinterest state. “Someone who is much busier than you is running right now. Whether you run it in 5 minutes or 15 minutes, a mile is still a mile.”
    On Saturday, I ran alongside buildings I’ve toured many times, streets I drive regularly. I saw Community of Christ’s Auditorium and Temple from a different perspective. I struggled up the hilly streets of the Square toward the end of the second mile.
    Lexington Avenue was brutal, but my arms and legs pumped hard enough to get me back to White Oak – the very hill we started up served as a great ending. Race volunteers held signs that thanked participants for supporting Community Services League.
    And, CSL’s president and CEO himself, Doug Cowan, cheered me to the finish line, giving me a high-five as I rounded the final curve.
    I finished without a trophy, medal or even a ribbon Saturday morning, just prior to the start of a downpour. I finished at a time of slightly less than 33 minutes (roughly 11 minutes per mile), placing seventh in my age category.
    If I’ve learned anything about running as an adult, it’s that you must set your ego – and the past – aside. All those medals I earned in high school? They sit in a box in my closet, only to be removed once a year, if that.
    Health, happiness and “the high” of running drive me now. Running is a lot like life: The race is long, but in the end, it’s only with yourself.
     
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