At the beginning of the summer, I learned about a new race coming to Chicago sponsored by Zooma, an organization promoting and celebrating women running.  I was intrigued because not only would I run along the beautiful lake in Chicago, but there was a weekend of events attached and awesome swag for registering-a racing expo, speakers the night before the race, a Mocktail party, and a post-race celebration with yoga, massages, food, and wine!  I signed up to run my first 10K race and began thinking how I was going to accomplish this goal.  I had never run more than a 5K, but with determination and some training, I knew I would be able to do it.

However, my training was quickly slowed as I injured my knee.  I would be in severe pain after running only a couple miles, then walking and stairs were painful for the next couple days.  This left me running about once a week and then taking a break from exercising for a couple days after that.  I consulted trainers and therapists for stretching my IT band (which was causing the knee pain), ran with bands around my knee to try to prevent pain, and continued an overall strengthening plan of weights, yoga, and Pilates.  After running a 5K race mid-July, I took a two week break from running.  Icing and Aleve became daily friends.  I continued taking long walks, including around the San Diego Zoo on vacation, but was not able to train; this was 2-3 weeks before my race!

As the race week approached, I was torn what to do-I still wanted to run but knew I was not prepared to run 6.2 miles and was worried about further injuring my knee.  However, I had set the goal to run and was still intrigued by the celebration weekend.  I decided I was going to run; I would do a combination of running and walking, but I would cross the finish line.

Friday night, I headed into the city to begin getting into race-mode.  I picked up my race number, walked around the expo, heard some speakers, met a friend for dinner, and went to Mocktails before spending the night in a luxurious room.  Saturday morning I woke up to get ready and headed to the start of the race.  It was nice being around other women runners and feeling the positive energy and excitement.  However, I was anxious as the start time approached; I had never run 6 miles and was nervous about my knee hurting.  I knew I could run at least half the race (3 miles) and hoped adrenaline would get me through the rest; I knew once I stopped to walk, it would be much harder to get back into running.

Finally the race began.  I started my music playlist, filled with songs to keep my energy up.  I waved to my family there to support me.  Throughout the race, I repeated in my head, “Slow and steady”.  You can do this.  Keep going”.  While my knee hurt, I kept running.  Seeing my family at the halfway point gave me a burst of energy.  I ran 4 miles, 2/3 of the race, before stopping to give my knee a break.  I walked a bit, ran another mile, then walked again because I wanted to run across the finish line.  Half a mile from the end, I began running and pushed through knowing the finish line was close.  Finally, I could see it.  I kept running and finally crossed the finish line.  I did it.  I ran and finished a 10K and accomplished my goal.

The past year has been filled with personal challenges for me.  Setting and achieving my goal of running a 10K was something I did for me as I’ve worked hard to rediscover my self-confidence and what makes me happy. As the school year is about to begin, I want to carry the “I can do this” mantra into the classroom.  I want to continue having high expectations for my students and helping them set and achieve their own goals.  I want to support them along their learning journeys, let them know it’s okay to make mistakes and have setbacks, but to push through to find success.  I want to see them successfully cross the finish line of success and say “I did it”.

The school year brings new challenges and potential setbacks, but with hard work, we can all accomplish our goals.  What goal will you set for this year?

10k finish