I’m not sure that I’ve ever been genuinely proud of myself. Pleased, sure; satisfied, sometimes; disappointed, often. Like a lot of people, the voices in my head that judge success aren’t especially kind or helpful.
But today, I am proud of what I’ve done. On Mother’s Day, I did something that I didn’t believe I could do: I ran the 5k at the Fredericton Marathon. Without stopping.
It might not sound like much to you. But I’m the least athletic person there is. In fact, rewind to 2006, and on any given day, it was a 50/50 chance whether I’d be able to go for a walk because my knees were cracking, inflamed, painful lumps due to patellofemoral syndrome (basically, my kneecaps don’t move correctly and they’ve been grinding away at the cartilage and bone, creating sandpaper-like surfaces inside my knee joint).
The road to this 5k started by just trying to get my knees to work. That took the better part of my adult life, a series of chiropractors, physiotherapists, knee braces, massage therapists, and a lot of time in the weight room.
There were no grandiose dreams of running.
If you’d asked me five years ago if I’d ever be able to run at all, I’d have had a great belly laugh at your expense. My dream was to walk down a flight of stairs without feeling like someone was digging the cartilage out of my knee joints and replacing it with gravel.
But in 2009 I was on the treadmill in our apartment complex’s gym, and there was no one else there. No one to see me fail. I ran 5 steps. Just… to see. What it felt like.
Then I spent two days assessing my knees and whether I’d ruined them (because in ’09 sometimes it still hurt when I went down a flight of stairs, or walked too much).
I’d love it if this was some kind of Rocky-esque montage, but: 2006 was eight years ago. And really, I’ve been battling patellofemoral syndrome since the age of 19. (No, I’m not doing that math for you.)
I’ve failed a lot.
Between ’09 and today there were at least four abandoned attempts at completing a couch to 5k program. I have an entire wardrobe of running shoes that didn’t work for me, and which I now use for gardening, or trips to the mall (I’m a classy lady, what can I say?). I got pregnant, gained an obscene amount of weight, then lost some – but not nearly all – of it. Ironically something about pregnancy finally gave me consistently useable knees. They still crack, but they rarely hurt.
Then like most moms who work outside the house, I suspect, I realized before going back to work that I wasn’t going to have any time at all for exercise. What I needed was something efficient, convenient, and that I could do without having to drive to a gym.
So: I became a runner.
Well – it still took me a solid year to get from “couch” to completing my first 5k. But believe me, if I can do it, you can too.
The Fredericton Marathon
If, like me, you’re going to run your first race, the Fredericton Marathon’s a great place to start. Over 2,000 runners gathered in Queen’s Square for the 8am start on Mother’s Day while upbeat tunes kept the energy high.
Weaving its way through the streets of downtown Fredericton and the trails on the north side of the city, this marathon does a great job of showcasing the best of Fredericton.
It’s an efficient, well-run event with good energy and the 5k course really showed off downtown. (Originally, the course was meant to run along the trail system by the river in downtown, and I’d love to run that route! Unfortunately, flooding forced a change of plans.)
If you’re doing the 10k or more, you get to run across the river, too.
And it’s a really flat course. I was sick with a cold the day of the race, and that flat course was probably the only reason I managed to complete the race without walking. If you’re a more experienced runner, it means you’ll probably post a really good time, although I understand the half and full marathon runners ran into some issues with the “hot” muggy day.
People came out to cheer us on, and I loved the entertaining signs. The signs and the cheering were a great distraction and motivation, so if you were one of those people: thank you!
The race takes place on Mother’s Day, too, and what better way to celebrate than by making your spouse drag the kids out of the house at 7am on a Sunday so that you can show your little bundles of joy you choose to take care of yourself and live a healthy, active lifestyle? (Thanks, honey!)
Don’t worry, there’s a playground at Queen’s Square so they’ll be able to stay active and entertained while you run.
Better yet, if they’re old enough, they can join you!
Follow Fredericton Marathon
Or, check my blog archives for other great things to do in the Fredericton area.