I promise, this post is about dogs.
I am not a runner. I know, people say that to me and then they go out and run, seemingly effortlessly, barely breaking a sweat as they go through 5ks, 10ks, half and full marathons. That’s not me, I truly am not a runner. I never even ran a full 5k until last week. I’ve signed up for 5ks…and ended up walking them or running/walking them. Years of strain on my knees with random dislocations made me nervous. Still, I would watch these people running their races, and I was insanely jealous. Living in Northern Virginia, you can’t not run into a runner every single time out, and a weekend doesn’t go by where there isn’t some race.
For the past two years, my husband has run the Crystal City 5ks, a race put on by Pacers Running and Crystal City BID every Friday in April. Tucker and I would dutifully go to every race, posing for a photo booth photo and cheering on the runners. Tucker got quite a fan club and it was another great form of socialization for him.
The last few months, I thought to myself, I want to run these 5ks. I can do this. I walk Tucker all the time, sometimes faster than my pace when I run alone. I can do this. The course is mostly flat, it won’t be that hard on my knees. Still, honestly I didn’t really train. I ran a few times before the first one but only two miles. Also, my husband loves running these-but we wanted to continue to bring Tucker and so we couldn’t run them both with Tucker- he would take out the field with his drunk running style.
However, the stars aligned and the first Crystal City 5k, appropriately on April 1 (was I the fool??) was the Friday before the Cherry Blossom 10 miler which my husband was running, so he had no problem being a spectator. We got Tucker’s bandanna on and he excitedly half ran down to the start line. He knew what day it was. RACE DAY! The photographer with Swim Bike Run Photo instantly recognized him, he got his photo and off I went to the start line. I was nervous waiting for the race to start and once it did, I was actually overcome with emotion. I’m doing this! I’m doing this! I actually felt really good the first mile, I was running my own race…and then I turned the corner and unexpectedly saw my husband and Tucker and my heart soared. I CAN DO THIS, JUST KEEP RUNNING! The race continued, ironically through Tucker’s favorite park, Long Bridge. It wasn’t my first time there that day- I had walked Tucker there in the morning and I thought, THIS IS MY PARK WITH TUCKER, I CAN DO THIS! Still, as I turned the corner at Mile 2, I thought: what am I doing? But I continued to run. I was not going to disappoint my husband or my dog.
As I rounded the corner for the end of the race, I saw Jason and Tucker again- waiting for me right at the finish line. I DID IT, I DID IT! I ran the whole time. Ohmygod I want to die.
Flash forward to week 2. Unlike week 1 where it was 74 degrees, it was cold. But still, my boys came, got their photo taken and Tucker got to play with a few dogs before I went to the start line. And the first mile was HARD. The doubts came out- why did I run it ALL last week? Can I just walk now? I’m never going to improve on my time. I knew after that first mile, I wouldn’t see Jason and Tucker- they said they were going to the park- so I had that to look forward to. Don’t quit, don’t quit, One Shining Moment is on your music mix right now. I got to the park and was searching and searching for them. I couldn’t find them. My heart dropped. I wanted to stop. And then a little voice said, “Run your race. They will be there. They will be at the finish line. Don’t worry. You got this. You can do this.” As I ran down Crystal Drive closer to the finish line, I thought I’M DOING THIS. I GOT THIS. I turned the corner and there they were, cheering me on and I saw on the clock that I was well ahead of my time from last week. I GOT THIS. I DID IT. I RAN IT ALL AGAIN. And, actually this week, I don’t want to say, Ohmygod I want to die.
You see, dogs (ok and in fairness other hooman family and friends) might not make our whole life, but they make our lives whole (and honestly, dogs probably are my whole life). They are there running the race of life with you, happy to see you whether you finish first or last. Happy to see you after a good day or a bad day. There to believe in you.
And maybe, just maybe, there to convince you that maybe you are a runner.
All race photos courtesy of Swim Bike Run Photo and Pacers Running. Thanks for making memories for us! #foreveryrun