I’ve never been a runner. I never ran a full mile in gym class growing up. I never thought I could. Up until a year ago I never actually had. Running a 5k has always been something I’ve thought about doing. When I got the email from the Mario Lemieux foundation announcing this years 6.6k run I knew I had to sign up. I didn’t put much thought into it. I registered real quick at work and it was done. I couldn’t take it back. It was something I didn’t share with anyone. My family didn’t even know until Saturday that I was running. That’s how I like to do things. I don’t like the questions and the attention. I don’t want the advice and suggestions. I like to do things on my own in my own way and check things off my list by myself.
It was important to me to run this first race on my own and that’s part of the reason I didn’t tell anyone. Yes, running with someone can be great motivation, but it can also feel like competition. I don’t want to compete with anyone. The only person I’m competing with is myself and that’s how I like it. So, I woke up at 6 o’clock yesterday morning, had a protein bar, drank some water, got dressed, brushed my teeth and headed downtown. Traffic was pretty heavy, but after attending so many Penguin games in the years past I know how to get through it. I parked in the garage and to the starting line I went. I was a little nervous because doing new things on your own is always scary. A few years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing something like that on my own. Now I just throw myself into new situations and get over it. I actually had to ask one of the volunteers if I needed to do anything before going to the starting line, because I have never done any type of run or walk. Thankfully, she was very nice and didn’t think I was an idiot. haha
I placed myself in between the 9:30 and 10:00 min/mile groups. I wanted to put myself in the 11 min/mile section, but I’m glad I didn’t. I have the tendency to tell myself I’m not as good as I am and that I can’t do things. I stood around with the other runners and waited for the sound of the gun and off we went. I’m so glad I looked to my right before crossing the start line. Seeing 66 at the very beginning was extra fun. I didn’t even hit the 1/2 mile mark and I was already smiling. There was a little boy with his dad on the sidewalk giving everyone high fives. He was so excited and proud. It was awesome and made me feel amazing. After the 1 mile mark and crossing the bridge to station square Paul Coffey was waiting for us with the Stanley Cup! Talk about exciting… running your first race and having the Stanley Cup there to cheer you on. My legs felt great and my breathing was better than usual. I was focusing on breathing through my nose. I’m not very good at it and because of that I can get some killer cramps, but I’m happy to say I didn’t get any this race!
I figured I’d probably stop and walk in the middle of this run, but once I got started I made a decision to not walk. It was the one goal I had. I didn’t care what my time was or how long it took me I had to keep running. I was passing people, people were passing me, but it didn’t matter. We were all in it together. I noticed at the 3 mile mark that I was well ahead of the man running with the 10:00 min/mile sign. That was an exciting moment for me because I thought for sure I was going to fall behind that. Running with such a large group of people was so motivating and fun. The whole race went pretty quick and seeing that finish line was an awesome feeling. I remember seeing the clock and just picking up my speed because I didn’t want to go over the next minute and I didn’t. I didn’t know that Mario Lemieux stood at the finish line and high-fived everyone. Let’s just say I was SO excited! I got that high-five and almost forgot to grab my medal because of it. haha
Growing up we never watched a lot of sports in my house. The only sport I remember being on TV was hockey and eventually there was a small Nascar moment. For whatever reason hockey was something I’ve always enjoyed watching. It might be because it was one of the few times I saw my Dad excited as a kid. Mario was someone and is someone I’ve always admired. He had an amazing career and could have had an even better one minus the cancer and back issues. He fought through all of it and never once gave up. At one point his back was such a mess he had to have his skates tied for him, but he went out and performed on the ice every night. You don’t find that drive and hard work in everyone. I could write an essay about 66, but I think I got my point across. Running the 6.6k for my very first run just felt like the perfect decision. I try to donate to the foundation as much as possible and this was an extra special way for me to donate.
Crossing that finish line felt amazing. Someone that could never run a mile ran 4.1 miles. This was a big milestone for me and a huge motivator. I can’t wait to sign up for more races. I can’t wait to push myself and to see how far I can go. Our bodies are capable of anything we just need to put the work in to get them there. Yesterday was awesome and I’m really proud of myself. I can’t wait to see what’s next!