I have never been what you would call an athlete. In fact, for most of my life I have been described as a "nathlete," a non-athlete. But on Sunday, December 5th I did a very athletic thing, I ran the NYRR Joe Kleinerman Classic 10K in NYC.
Erin, the "nathlete," ran 6.2 miles. Shoulder to shoulder with 4,647 other runners my sister-in-law and I braved the challenging hilly course in Manhattan's Central Park. We were lead in this endeavor by my fabulously fit celebrity training cousin.
My cousin has an extensive running resume and has completed hundreds of races over the years but approaches each one as a new opportunity to conquer a personal goal. She was patient and supportive, inspirational and encouraging and most of all, she was understanding when I ran away.
We began the race together, the three of us, running slowly, the Rookie, the Novice and the Expert. My sister-in-law had previously completed a 4 mile race in NYC but this was her first 6 mile run and she was nervous. I had never competed in NYC and although I felt sure of my ability to run the distance I began to freak out about the "race factor."
We both deferred to the expertise of our own personal Nike Pacer, who kept us from being swept away in the flurry of fast starters. My husband had coached all three of my children to remind me that, "Slow and steady will finish this race." Their words ran through my head on a loop as hundreds of runners flooded by us.
The December chill was biting and I was happy to be moving as we started to run. We listened intently as my cousin told tales of her "Single Girl in the Big City" life. We were just beginning to climb the first hill of the course when I realized that this was my chance. This was my opportunity to really dig deep and see what I am made of.
I pulled away from our threesome, looking back with a wave and a smile. I launched forward into the herd of runners scampering up the hill. I accelerated and felt the speed in my legs. It was amazing.
I ran strong and long. I put on my music and felt the electricity of the race surge through my veins.
I found my stride.
It was mine.
I owned it.
It felt amazing. Something that could not be taken away.
I raced with elite athletes in a sport that I have fallen madly in love with.
I reached inside to that place where athletes keep their guts.
That place I didn't know I had.
That place that has been there all along.
I will continue to run. I'll run towards my goals. I'll run away from my fears.
I'll run to recharge and I'll run until I burn out.
I'll run with others for support and I'll run alone, untethered.
I'll run in the rain and I'll run under the stars.
I'll run with the sand and surf at my feet and I'll run on the rotating belt of the treadmill in my basement.
I will continue to run because I have finally found my stride.