Every summer for the last 37 years Spring Lake, NJ has hosted one of Runner’s Worlds top 100 races, The Spring Lake 5. I can remember my mom doing it back when I was in college and she always asked me to do it with her but never thought I could so I blew it off. Now, I can say I did it and I’m so happy I did!
My preparation for the race began officially last summer when I started running. At the time I couldn’t run a few minutes straight but over time I got better and better. This would be the ultimate test because up until this point I had only done 5K’s.
The days leading up to the race were stressful because I didn’t feel I was ready and doubted myself a lot but one motto I live by is “don’t let the fear hold you back”. Reminding myself of this pushed me to get to the starting line that morning especially for my fear of large crowds. Below is a pic of just some of the 11,000 runners at the starting line.
After a woman sang the National Anthem, we were off and running, literally. I had set a goal to get through the first mile without stopping. I hit that first mile and just kept going eventually making it to two miles without stopping. That’s a big deal for me!
Along the way, many locals were outside their homes cheering everyone on and it’s appreciated more than they may know. I felt proud of my community and of myself.
As I was rounding the second mile, I saw a woman who resembled my aunt who passed away last year and then a man who resembled my uncle who also passed in 2013. I actually started to cry as I was running because everytime I run and I start to feel like I can’t go any further I remind myself of people who cannot. Whether these are family members who are no longer with me or are ill, I keep them with me to keep me going. They are my running guardian angels.
Eventually I made it to the finish line under my goal time and about 1,000 people behind me. Thank God because I didn’t want to come in last!
I learned a lot of lessons that day but the most important is never to doubt yourself. I may not be the best runner but I did better than the day before and that is an accomplishment in itself.
And I leave you with the best t-shirt winner. “Run like you stole something”