As many of you know, my family and I climbed a mountain last year. A MOUNTAIN. It was one of those, “did I really do that?” type of moments that was immediately followed by, “we definitely deserve cake for that.” Let’s just say I opened the BIFC (scientifically pronounced Bifsee) door.
We all have this door. Some people kick it open Kool-Aid man style, without fear or hesitation, while others fiddle with the keys and hide from the moth living on the screen before we even attempt to push it ajar.
This past October, I came across an ad for the LA Big 5k, an event held the day before the LA Marathon as both a challenge for the general public and a warm up for the Marathon runners.
I’ve never been a runner, ever. The last time I remember running for sport was 6th grade when I was trying to keep up with the boys and get an A on my physical fitness test. (Side note: I got a B because I couldn’t do a shoulder roll. I was convinced I’d shatter my shoulder blade and have to learn to cook with my feet.) I don’t really know what made me click the link, maybe it was the inspiration of my brother signing up to run the marathon, or maybe it was because I’d watched Thor the night before. Either way, I clicked the link, filled out a form and before I knew it I was signed up to run 3.1 miles in the middle of March.
My first reaction was panic. WTF was I thinking? What if my lungs dissolve into a puddle of blood and weakness and I die amongst thousands of 6-packed super humans? Would they use my clothes as sweat rags and my tears as a hydration refresher?
January marked the official start of my self-training. My regimen was extremely detailed: run until you might die, then stop and walk for like, a long time.
My first trip out I made it about a half mile before my lungs went to war with my ribs and my heart tried to out do the drum solo in Whiplash. I walked it off, panting wildly, and half-heartedly waving to neighbors as I slobbered my way back to a realistic breathing pattern. I picked the speed back up, much to the displeasure of my shins, and then I walked again, waving and slobbering like I was an out of shape record on repeat.
For the first month, not a single time was fun. Every time I started to run I dreamed of the moment I got to stop. I would pick a pole, an intersection, a tweaked out squirrel, anything up ahead that I could will myself to keep running towards, stopping on a dime when I got there and cursing myself for this entire process.
Over the course of the second month, I used the same process, but eventually I would pick a pole, reach it, and then tell myself to run passed it to the next one and then the next one and then the next one.
In a blink, it was race day. I was standing amongst 5000 of my sweatiest acquaintances, when at 8:00 a.m. on the dot, the MC gave us the green light, shouting, “GO! GO! GO!” into the microphone.
I had long decided to set my own pace. I was not racing, I was running and the only person I had to beat was the one inside my own head, telling me to quit.
When I reached Mile 1, I was both discouraged and excited. It was: “Woohoo 1 mile gone!” and “THAT WAS ONLY 1 MILE?!”
The 2nd mile marker sat at the bottom of a hill, which, on any other day would invite me in to spend the afternoon eating hot dogs and watching my favorite team play baseball, but today it only offered a challenge.
At the top the path flattened out, only to curve and dip and loop around to yet another hill, seemingly steeper than the last. I could see the Mile 3 sign at the top and I knew that the finish line was waiting just beyond it. So with a deep breath, I pushed myself up that hill like Thor himself was waiting on the other side. Once I reached the top, I could see the arch marking the finish and was overwhelmed at the amount of people lining the path, cheering. I picked up my pace, suddenly unhindered by anything, and against every assumption my negative brain had made over the last 12 years, I finished my first 5k without a stitch of walking.
Because I F*cking Can.
Find your own BIFC door, then Kool-Aid man that thing and never look back!