Me, running

Me running

Rachel the runner, Grade 7 (1980), Merrickville Public School, Ontario

As some of you know, yesterday I made a big decision:

I am going to train for a 5K race. Then I am going to run the James Page sponsored “Blubber Run” in Minneapolis on September 11th.

It’s a big decision for me because I haven’t run anywhere, for anything (except maybe to save my son from running into the street) since 1988. That’s 22 years. A long time.

But there was a time when I was a runner, and I competed in long distance running. I actually came in 6th once at a meet. Since my career was short, and I was only 12, I was pretty pleased.

I loved the tranquility of running the trails through the woods behind my elementary school in rural Ontario. Setting my own pace, focusing on each point along the path, reaching the end and feeling that sense of satisfaction; it was all so wonderful that I didn’t even need anyone to know that I had done it.

As opposed to group sports like baseball (hiding waaaay out in the outfield during PE class so that I didn’t have to try to catch the ball) and volleyball (covering my head since I was terrified of getting hit), and pretty much anything else (always getting picked last for teams and being made fun of throughout every single class),  distance running was my saving grace in elementary school.

When I entered high school, gym was optional. And since I felt much more confident about my skills in academics, languages and art, and I didn’t relish being mocked any longer than I had to, I eliminated organized athletics from my life. I began to feel that my identity was almost exclusively about grades and good behavior. While my siblings were successful in many sports throughout the years, I acted disinterested in pursuing anything myself. Because I believed that I was actually not capable of it.

My lack of confidence physically has made me sad over the years, and I have felt that I was missing a really important aspect of my whole self. I have tried a few activities (80s aerobics, anyone?), but nearly constant depression and anxiety, pregnancy and postpartum, and the impact of being a mom while working long hours outside the home conspired against being consistently active. Energy to do anything was (as my friend Margaret would say) “scarcer than a hen’s teeth.” And, taking anti-depressants combined with the natural effects of aging caused me to gain weight. None of which made me want to put on a tight outfit and go out in public.

Now that my moods have been so much better for a couple of years, I stay pretty active with daily gardening during the summer months and I take a yoga class at least once a week year-round. I will continue to enjoy and challenge myself with yoga for the rest of my life. It is so good for me.

But I am yearning to push my nearly 42 year old body further. I want to give that 7th grade girl a shot at being a runner again. By stepping out to do this, I am staring down a long-held lie (the one that says that I am simply not athletic) and laughing in the face of my sports-related insecurity and fear of public failure. I am taking back the joy I once had.

Though clearly I know that not every minute of this process is going to feel joyful.

Why do I dare to think that I can do this?

Because my heart tells me that the time is right. Because I am well for the first time in years, and I want to celebrate my life and my body. Because I’m 40, not 80, and I still have the opportunity. Because I’m grateful. Because once I set my mind to something…

Because I am determined to find new ways to be me in the world.

new ways to be me in the world

The title of a scrapbook I created about 5 years ago. Inside, I expressed my desire to rediscover my sporty self.

The details of my plan:

I found out about the online program, Couch to 5K, and that’s where I will get my training schedule and links to podcasts I can download to guide my alternating jogging/walking/running program. Couch to 5K promises that only 30 minutes, 3 times a week, for 9 weeks will get me where I want to go.

My ultimate goal is to run the Get Ready to Rock race on September 11th. I’ve picked this one simply because it’s a local race that has a 5K option and is closest to my 9-week ending date (I’m starting Monday), with a bit of a buffer for a training day missed here or there.

I am going to further motivate myself and ensure that I don’t back out by running to raise funds for my Michelle Project sisterhood. If you would like to sponsor the MP through my run in some way, that would be great!

An unexpected bonus: Four of my girlfriends say that they are going to run it with me, and we are going to reward ourselves with something fabulous once we reach our goal. Way to go Lea, Anna, Michelle and Lizzie!

If you want to come on September 11th, you can see me, running.

Just one more question: Does anyone have an 80s vintage Adidas tracksuit I can borrow? I can take care of the pigtails myself. After all, if I’m going to be 12, I plan to look the part.

13 Responses to Me, running

  1. Tony Hedrick June 25, 2010 at 5:12 am #

    Rachel.. Have you heard of “irun”? Lauren raised money for ACCI missionaries through something called irun. I think that it is a fund raising support website for runners. As much as you know the net, you probably already have this… right?

  2. Michelle June 25, 2010 at 6:33 am #

    Great post. I’m stoked, Rachel! On your mark….get set…..

  3. anna June 25, 2010 at 6:37 am #

    You are awesome! I can see you, in pigtails and in your adidas track suit, at the finish line. x

  4. Jan Dougherty June 25, 2010 at 8:15 am #

    Yes Yes Yes – My 40 year old daughter Libby (with three children and works full time) is a runner and it is GREAT for her. It gives her time to be alone – important and difficult, plus, she feels so good. Hooray for you!

  5. Vicki June 25, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    From Forrest Gump: “That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road, and when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County….”

    Go Rachel!

  6. Margaret McBride June 25, 2010 at 9:10 am #

    Kudos to you, Rachel. Your story about your aversion to sport, etc. so mirrors mine, but I never even tried running at 12! Walking is my exercise of choice now, and your decision has inspired me, at 74, to ask you to keep me accountable for walking every day for 1/2 hour. Sounds pretty wimpy, but I have to start somewhere. Oh, yes – I’d like to be one of your sponsors.

    • Rachel Greenhouse June 25, 2010 at 9:14 am #

      Margaret: Not wimpy at all. After all I am only doing a 5K, not a marathon! Walking is going to be my friend when I am your age too, and probably long before! Thank you for offering to sponsor me. You are an inspiration for me in so many ways. xo

  7. Lea June 25, 2010 at 9:25 am #

    Rachel, You speak for so many women. I think too many of us underestimate our physical, emotional, spiritual strength. Let’s set that aside and start seeing our real strength.

    I’ve done a little running over the last couple years, and I find it difficult but satisfying. However, I get discouraged when better runners push me to have a better time: “You know, a 12 minute mile is technically a walking pace.” WHATEVER!

    I’m doing this for myself and glad to have supportive friends to do it with.

    Let’s go girl!

    • Rachel Greenhouse June 25, 2010 at 9:48 am #

      WHATEVER is right. The ideal is the enemy of the good. Thanks for doing this with me. ( :

  8. Lizzie June 25, 2010 at 10:15 pm #

    So excited for this… I did a little, key word” little”.. run this morning while listening to Supertramp and the Glee soundtrack, I think I even smiled while running 😉 Thanks for getting my b*t in gear 😉

  9. claudia kaul July 4, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    Right on! Way to go! I’ll come cheer you on at the race in September!


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