It starts with a 5K

  • This was printed in February of 2014 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 39th installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

I think I now know what devout people feel like when someone converts to their religion.

This past week I’ve inspired at least seven family members to start running and I’m super

excited to see how it changes their lives.

My parents, along with aunts, cousins and an uncle, have decided to train for the Second

Wind 5K, of which I am co-director, in Madera. They say they’re doing it for me, to

support the race I’m helping to organize, but I can’t wait until they figure out that they’re

actually doing it for themselves.

I can’t wait for their energy levels to skyrocket, for their extra weight to fall off, for them

to feel their first runners’ high. I feel like I’ve been living in Disneyland and now I get to

give my family a tour of the happiest place on earth for their first time.

A few have said, “This is it. We’re doing this one race and then no more running.”

I can’t wait to make them eat their words! Because really, how can you stop running once

you’ve started? Running becomes part of who you are. It gives you a title — you’re a

Runner.

I can see it now. They’ll train, starting off with intervals of walking and running.

Gradually they’ll increase the length of their running intervals and wonder, “why am I

doing this?” They’ll sweat, they’ll hurt, they’ll feel the soreness in their legs the next day.

Then they’ll run a mile without walking. They’ll sweat. They’ll hurt. Then they’ll say, “I

did it! I don’t know why I’m doing it, but I did it!”

Then they’ll increase their mileage. Sure, it might still hurt, but they’ll start to feel the

runners’ high that trumps all pain. They’ll start to enjoy it. They’ll start looking forward

to their three-times-a-week runs rather than dreading them.

They’ll have butterflies in their stomachs on race morning, April 26. They’ll get to the

Madera District Fairgrounds early so they can mentally prepare for their first race, with a

start time of 8 a.m.

They’ll approach the starting line on the LoanMart Madera Speedway, probably lining up

near the back because they’ll think, “This is my first race. I’m not as fast as these other

runners.” They’ll probably be wrong.

About two miles into the fun 3.1-mile race around the Madera Fairgrounds, past

Chukchansi stage, through the horse and hog barns and back to the speedway, my family

will probably be thinking, “Why did we agree to this? What are we doing out here?”

They might be cursing my name — until they cross the finish line.

Then I’ll hear, “That wasn’t so bad.”

I bet later that week they’ll find themselves tying their running shoes and heading out for

a quick three-miler. Running will have become a habit, just like brushing teeth. They

won’t be able to remember what they felt like before they became runners; and if they do

remember, they’ll realize they prefer running to not running.

I can’t wait until they call me to ask when and where the next 5K is.

Speaking of people running 5Ks, I convinced reporter Elsa Mejía to run her first, the Run

or Dye 5K, in Fresno on Saturday. Very few people responded to our story in

Wednesday’s paper that called for entries to win free registration to run with a reporter.

Winners were chosen at random the old fashioned way — my daughter pulled the names

out of a hat. Congratulations to the three winners: Tera Napier, Irvin Mejía and Yesenia

Valdez.

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