Food & Health · Recollections & Reflections

My first-ish 5K!

I did it! I signed up for a 5K!

Somebody asked me yesterday what I like to do for fun and I answered in this order: Read, write, sing… and recently I’ve started getting into running. I love how I feel the need to add all those qualifiers in the last one.

Honestly, I have a hard time even admitting it to myself. 1) I’m not an athlete 2) I’ve never been an athlete 3) My mile time is really slow 4) I’ve never done more than a 5K 5) I’ve only ever run a 5K on the treadmill (except for that one time) 6) Running on the pavement is real running 7) Is what I do even running? It’s more like a fast walk for normal people. But because I’m so short, I feel like I’m being chased by a lion who hasn’t eaten in three stinkin’ days.

So yeah, all these excuses and probably more if I really take the time to sit on it.

But much like last year, when I finally came to terms with being a writer, I think I’m finally coming to terms with being a runner, albeit a beginner runner.

I do believe in positive self-fulfilling prophecies. I guess those are called self-affirmations, but that language is too new-age-y for me. I am a writer because I write. Ergo, I am a runner because I run.

What I like about “running” (it’s going to take some time) is that I’m only really competing with myself. Sure, I do glance over at the next person’s MPH and feel like a loser, but you know what? I don’t know that person. Maybe they’ve been doing this all their life. They most likely do not have short legs like I do (it makes a difference, okay? Short people have to exert themselves more to keep up with tall people. Short people don’t get enough credit). Regardless, it’s a nice feeling to be able to keep a consistent not-walking-pace for 25 minutes. Old Rafia could have never done that.

In many ways, running is the most empowering, confidence-inspiring thing I can do for myself. I find myself confronting some of my truths that were once non-negotiable. Why can’t I run? Because I was a fat kid? That’s idiotic. I can’t find the link now, but Runner’s World had a feature on 6 beginner runners and there was one that particularly resonated with me: a severely overweight med student who now runs marathons. If a 350-pound man can run a marathon, I can do a 5K, maybe even a 10K one day. We’ll leave it at that for now.

I guess as I get older, I wanna be active. I don’t want to be someone who is a victim of circumstances largely of her own making. Been there, done that. Losing weight in my twenties, as hard as it was, was relatively easy: I was young, had no responsibilities, etc. I’m not even all that concerned about weight anymore. I mean, I am. But that’s not really why I want to run. There’s this feeling of accomplishment I get when I do something that scares me (but is not actually scary – I ain’t jumping out of a plane anytime soon). And I don’t know, I like how bad-a** I feel running to the Mortal Kombat soundtrack. I dare you to not feel like Liu Kang when you hear those beats!

Now that the weather is getting a bit warmer, a friend of mine and I have made plans tomorrow to run together – outside! Yikes. There’s no excuse though. Mr. Rafia got me actual running shoes for my birthday, I have a jersey hijab that I’ve been using for my gym workouts, I finally wear pants… it’s time. Also, I don’t want to go into the 5K not having done any pavement “running” since that first 5K years ago. It’s in 3 weeks!

I’m scared, but also excited. As long as I make sure to hydrate and stretch and to be easy on myself (I learned the hard way that it’s not a good thing to push past your pain when running because then you’ll be out for the next two weeks). I feel like this is the beginning of something new. I would eventually like to do a 10K one day. It may take years and that’s fine. But as long as I am consistent, God-willing, it can happen.

It’s kinda nice to surprise myself and try new things. Wow. Is this what marriage has done to me? I know Mr. Rafia would love to take all the credit. But one thing that I do remember from my four years of studying Econ is this: correlation does not imply causation. Thank you, Dr. Lobo!