My running dreams and aspirations have snowballed over time, exacerbated by all the new and exiting things I never knew about that I have discovered via social media. It seems like just yesterday I was toeing the line at my first race ever – a San Francisco 5K I ran with coworkers.
I distinctly remember running down the Embarcadero with my coworker Jenni. Neither of us was necessarily ‘well trained’ for the event, but we were young (and to a certain extent a little dumb, or at least, I was,) and excited to try something new. I was determined to run with her even though she tried to tell me to go ahead. Three point one miles felt so far! I remember being so happy when we reached the turnaround point. The smell of sourdough was in the air, the tourists were abundant and I was already dreaming about breakfast. It wasn’t until the end where I had some legs left and she was beginning to tire, when I heard our boss yelling from the top of a stairwell “Come on Ignacio, finish strong!” that I left her side, pushed and ran hard through the finish. It was my first race ever and there were no medals, no big arch, no photographer, just a taped off chute and some volunteers removing timing chips (whom I nearly missed in my excitement of being done.) I had done it: I had run a 5K!
Little did I know that would be the first of many races. Since that day back in 2009, my reach goals for running have changed greatly.
At first, running a 5K was a push. Hell, let’s be frank: at first I didn’t consider myself a runner. A lifelong athlete of sorts, a soccer player, running was torturous conditioning, not something to do willingly! Over time and many life changes, I finally began thinking of myself as a runner after taking on the inaugural Ragnar Relay Napa Valley in 2011 with my coworkers. It was during that 24 hour period that I ran some of the longest distances I had ever run at the time, having only done up to a 10K until then.
Somewhere along the line I fell in love with the idea of running a half marathon. Maybe it was one of those glossy pictures in Runner’s World that got me, but 2013 came and went and with it, my first half marathon. I ran the Tinker Bell, where I somehow was in the first corral, nervous as all get out (and not in a full costume, can you believe it?) I marveled at the finish, so proud of my accomplishment. Thirteen point one miles done! To think I had once thought I’d never run that far. As I write this, I’ve now run nine.
I laugh now talking with coworkers about the “I would nevers” and how they sometimes turn into “I would love tos” instead. After a 5K, one might think “I’d never run a 10K,” after a 10K say “I would never run a half marathon,” and then after a few half marathons go back on their word of “I would never run a full marathon.”
That was me. I said all those things — and then did them anyways. While I only have one full marathon under my belt as I write this, I will admit that the allure of pushing myself to go even further is there. Step one for me, for reasons of preparedness, is to get a second 26.2 in the books, maybe even a 50K… but deep down I know that there’s one event that will continue to tempt me until I can say I too did it.
Enter the runDisney Dopey Challenge: back to back days of running, starting with a 5K, ending with a marathon. I could of course do this on my own, running a 5K one Thursday, a 10K that Friday, a half marathon Saturday and a marathon distance on Sunday, but I will admit that it wouldn’t be the same–but it would be good training.
Yes, it’s partially about the bling. Yes, it’s partially about the fun of run costumes and seeing the parks and meeting up with friends from the running community. Who wouldn’t want to stop and ride a roller coaster mid race? But it’s also the temptation of a structured challenge that would push me to do things I never have. To be able to say “I ran a 5K, a 10K, a half and a full this week” is no small accomplishment in my eyes.
Running has helped me push me to do more, to be better, to strive to be stronger, and it will continue to do so. Especially now as a mother, I see running not only as something I do for myself, but for my family, so I can be the happiest, healthiest version of myself for me and for them. I now run so I can be a positive role model for my daughter, to help her revel in the amazing things her body is capable of, not in what it looks like in the eyes of others.
Running has helped me push myself to do what used to seem impossible. I find places in my own mind and drive in my heart and my body that I didn’t know I had. It’s hard to believe that seven years ago I thought that a 5K was so incredibly hard and so very far, and now I daydream lovingly of running nearly 50 miles over the course of four days. How far I have come — and how far I have to go.
That’s the beauty of it all: there will always be somewhere to go, something to daydream about, some distance or trail or clocked time tempting me. So here’s to my newest running daydream, and to it one day turning from “I wish” to “I did.”