I wrote this creative non-fiction piece a couple of weeks ago for the writing class I was taking at the local college. I thought I’d reproduce it here.
If you had told me six months ago that I would spend the better part of today wondering when the rain would stop so that I could get out and run – while sick with a cold – I would have laughed in your face and gone about my business. Running was not my cup of tea.
But a woman’s got a right to change her mind, doesn’t she? I hope so, because I did just that. It was January and I was perusing the new class offerings at our local community centre online when I read about some clinics that were going to train people to run a 10K race. Could I do this? Even though I had always protested against running and vowed that I would never do it, I still – inexplicably – had written “run a 5K” down on my Top 100 Lifetime Goals list. Clearly I had always had the intention to run, but my mindset just hadn’t caught up to it yet. Well that was about to change.
I signed up for that training clinic – it would happen every Sunday morning for 14 weeks at a local rec centre – and went out and did what any brand-spanking-new-to-running Canadian female would do to prepare herself. I shopped! Taking a page out of my husband’s book (guys just love getting all the gear for things, don’t they?), I just had to go out and get the right clothes.
So there I was, buying the basics for running, putting some fear into the guy at the store when I said I needed to get a – gasp! – sports bra. (He got a kind woman to help me instead.) I picked out some suitable pieces and eventually went to the cash register. When I heard the amount of the bill, I got a bit of a shock – who says it’s cheap to get into running? But I handed over the cash and was on my way. Now I was ready to run.
The first weeks of the clinic were hard ones for my body to get used to. I huffed and puffed doing those 30 second and then 1 minute intervals between running and walking over weeks one and two. I waited with anticipation each Sunday for our run leaders to blow the whistle to indicate that it was time to stop running and walk. I dreaded running up the large hill in the first part of our run, and I savoured the less-intensive trek back down. Each week we gradually increased the time we ran and decreased the time we walked. It felt good!
Week seven tested my resolve as a new runner; it was my first 5K race! This was our ‘practice’ run, halfway through our training program on the way to the 10K. Race morning came early (it was the day of the time change) and wet (it rained the whole morning). But, oh the exhilaration! I never thought it would feel so good to run in the rain with 1200 people at my side. (Well, ‘at my side’ is a figure of speech here – pretty much three-quarters of the other runners passed me.) I ran the whole way and came in with a respectable time. I was quite pleased with myself, actually! My first race had come and gone. I was really a runner now.
And so I sit here, a few weeks later, waiting for the rain to stop. I look out the window every 20 minutes to see if things have changed. The rain isn’t slowing me down today, but my sniffles are. Is it irresponsible to subject one’s unhealthy self to running in the rain? There seems to be a break in the weather and so I’m going to go for it. In an act of desperation, I decide to borrow one of my husband’s handkerchiefs for emergencies. I run, and I feel great. The exercise even makes my cold disappear.
I know now that there’s no turning back. I must run. Who would have thought?