Today I graduated from active.com's Couch-to-5K running program. It feels like something worth celebrating. When I started, I could barely run to the end of our road without getting winded. Last Saturday (and the Saturday before), I ran for more than five miles without a break.
I began my early morning sweat-and-stagger routine in the middle of August when the air was hot and thick like treacle. As the mornings turned cooler and the sun rose later, I learned to run with extra layers and a light at my back so pre-dawn cyclists didn't curse as they nearly collided with me in the dark.
This is the third time I've tried the program but the first time I've finished it. A hilarious but painful roller skating accident on Easter morning put paid to my initial attempt (and my figure-skating dreams) as I came hurtling over the bridge by the dog park, zooming round the corner, only to land in an ignominious heap by a group of holiday picnickers. I was in too much pain to continue running for some time after that. The second time, I abandoned the program to fly to England and be with my mum who was very sick. I guess the third time really is a charm.
When I began all this, running was just the method; the goal was to get fitter, leaner, and healthier. In the last nine weeks, I've logged 78 miles and dropped a lot of pounds, so I guess I'm well on my way to "Mission Accomplished." Along the way, though, I've fallen in love with the feel of feet pounding on pavement in the dark as the sun hits its snooze button and then rises, sometimes a little reluctantly, over the smokey lake. These days fitness is just a happy by-product of what I'm doing; I've graduated from the couch. Next week I start training for my first 10K, but this time the journey and the destination are one. This time, I'm running just to run.
October 19 Postscript
2013 Komen-Dallas Race for the Cure. My very first race: placed 410th overall, 20th in my age group, running 5K in 32 minutes, 49 seconds. Not too shabby!