The last time I ran in a 5k was in July of 2015. I had been a semi-serious runner only for about two years, registering in enough 5k races between Spring and Fall to keep myself in shape. I watched my time steadily improve and loved the exhilaration of finishing. My favorite races were in downtown Chicago with thousands of other runners. Between the city backdrop and the energy of the race, it was a rush.
I was about 15 weeks pregnant with Nelle. Had never run while pregnant before, but it was a charity event for Chromosome 18 research and a dear friend of mine has a daughter with a Chromosome 18 deletion. So I woke up early and drove to downtown Chicago. I did a lot more walking than running, finding that even with a supportive band around my mid-section, running while pregnant was not very comfortable. The day was also a hot one and I didn’t want to over-exert myself.
I distinctly remember another person in our group saying to me “You’re so tiny!” when I confirmed that I was 15 weeks pregnant. One of many comments of that nature that I heard during my second trimester. Within 5 weeks, we would find out that Nelle was growth restricted. Now those words echo stingingly in my memory.
After losing Iris, running lost its appeal. I tried. Several times I went out on walks and halfheartedly tried to pick up speed, but I didn’t have the drive for it. My energy lacked so much. I turned to hot yoga instead.
Last Fall, I was registered for a 5k in October. Autumn was about 2.5 months old. Theo had been participating in an after-school Run Club program and decided that he wanted to do a 5k race. He and I prepped together, although his interest waned after the scheduled Run Club meetings ended for the year. Determined to make him see his commitment through, I told him that we would still race – even if we had to walk most of the time. Then a few days before the race, he was diagnosed with a sinus infection and told that he could not be outside in the crisp Fall air. I didn’t want to run alone, so I also skipped the event.
Now this year. I am registered for a 5k race tomorrow.
A few weeks ago, I tried to get into the mindset of preparing, with more than three years having passed since my last race. I had a friend also preparing for a 5k in another part of the state and we were each others’ accountability partners – asking “Did you run today” and pushing when the other didn’t feel like running. I even ran with another woman signed up for the same 5k – taking it easy and able to keep pace with her in a combination of running and walking. I bought new running shoes – something I had not done in a very long time. I listed to Haruki Murakami’s book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – his memoir about his life as a writer and a long-distance runner. I remembered my own dreams of building up my endurance to run in a half-marathon, and, someday, a full marathon.
Then I had a touch-up done on my foot tattoo and had to hold back for a few days, not wanting my foot to sweat or rub against.
Then there was the shitstorm that was Nelle’s birthday and the unfortunate incident with my therapist. The idea of running was not appealing. All I could think of was surviving the day. Coupled with some unanticipated work stress, and I have done no further preparation.
As the race loomed, I debated not participating. I had to ask myself: what would make me feel worse? Running, and finishing terribly, nowhere near was I was previously able to do three years ago? Or skipping the race altogether?
After a lot of back and forth, I decided that I have to at least go. I can walk the whole time if I want, but I need to go. The “first race” after loss would otherwise still be hanging over me and I need to get it out of the way. I’m going into it with the mentality of “I showed up.”