Running Again

As my feet hit the pavement, I pushed forward reminding myself I need to keep moving. Dozens of runners with me gazing ahead, the rush of adrenaline as we start this journey forward. Groups wearing identical shirts whizzed by, some with small children in tow. I ran solo today. My personal mission being just to arrive, start and keep going until then end. This isn’t my first race, but the first in a long time. I wanted to keep moving, proving to myself that even early on a Saturday morning in the droves of family and friends that come out to support their loved ones living with epilepsy.

This was my first 5K run/walk and I needed desperately to prove to myself I can finish. I needed to do it solo first, before the fuss of gathering a team. I barely spoke of the goal I set for myself and prepared minimally to make sure I would not be defeated if I didn’t make it. Recently more than before I’ve been experiencing an anxiety around events, small or big did not matter. The anticipation of it made me feel doom and gloom. For so long receiving bad news in what feels a continuous pattern made me numb to any news, good or bad. Then I get a cancellation notice for something novice like a nail appointment and I’m in tears, I doubt I’ll ever get the timing of life correct. The negative narrative is racing through my mind trying to take over my day. I push back with the best positive talk and it still lingers. I go for a walk in nature and the gloom still lingers close.

I sign up for this run in the midst of feeling unsure anxiety. It’s the Freedom For Seizures 5K, scheduled for June 4th and it feels good to have something productive to look forward to. Epilepsy is a brain disorder leading to recurring seizures that effects 3 million adults in the US, and over 500,00 children. Runs like this help bring awareness, raise money for research and support as well as build community for those affected. Being one of Sophia’s primary issues I felt it a great cause to join and support.

  The race happened to occur on the weekend Sophia goes away to her dad, so I’m free to go solo. I haven’t run in such a long time but I remember running was a freeing space for me, so I just knew I’d give it a try. I prepped by walking each morning, even the ones that were a bit rainy. A week before the race I switched to a light jog. Three days before the race I did a practice run. It all was coming back to me with each practice. Breathing from the diaphragm, striding instead of short steps, keeping my shoulders loose all skills drilled in me from years of running track. Well as much as I remembered there was so much more preparation needed to run aggressively. I think the goal was just to go and be present, to show up for myself in a way I haven’t in a long time.

Running frees my head of all the rushing thoughts. It’s a safe space for me to unravel with each breath, picking myself up again with each step forward. It is watching the cadence of my steps, melting away worries with each step forward. Running happens in the present, past times do not matter, what matters is now right in front of you. I got back to this space, each breath freeing as the steps forward continued. I listened to nature, a new skill I picked up from the daily walks. I realized in the moment that my purpose for running has transitioned, and I will have to learn how to do it for me in the moment all over again.

Three quarters into the first mile my strong strides were replaced with a healthy jog. Another quarter of the mile I’m briskly walking. I finish the race jog- walking but I finish. I’m not dead last but far from where I started. I did accomplish the task of forward movement for me, by myself. For the next race I will prepare more aggressively. I will definitely run more leading up to the race. I’m glad to see I still can get up and find the strength to cross the finish line.

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