Never Say Never – My First 5K

This Saturday I will run my first 3-mile race. Three miles may not seem like very far – especially to my 26.2 marathon-running husband – but for someone who was born without hip sockets it’s pretty far.

Especially since this someone said she’d never run. EVER.

Until 6 months ago I had never ran in my life.

Seriously. I had gone nearly 30 years without running.

I didn’t even run when I played t-ball as a little girl. I remember having to buy my coaches a coke every time I didn’t hustle to first base.

Our team was awesome, but no thanks to me. I was known as the right-field dandelion-picking player.

No drive. No desire to hustle. Just easy going hopping around the bases.

A lot of that may have stemmed from the fact that I was born without hip sockets.

You now how they rotate a baby’s legs during their one-week check up? For me, there was nothing for the doctor to rotate. I had a ball but no socket to hook it into. My legs hung limply from my body.

When I was 3 months old a doctor took me into surgery and carved sockets out of my bones. I was in a lower-body cast for several months.

Miraculously the surgery worked. But by the time I was out of my cast I was behind. Most other babies my age were rolling around and crawling all over. I hadn’t done any of that.

I was slower physically.

But I eventually learned to crawl, walk, ride a bike and all of the other things kids learn to do.

Most of the time I was like a normal kid.

But there were times when my hip joints ached like mad. When I was in junior high and high school I remember limping around because of the pain.

I was given anti-inflammatory medicine and did a round of physical therapy to try to strengthen my leg muscles to help take strain off of my hip joints.

Needless to say, I wasn’t a cross country star. And that was all right with me.

I used my congenital hip dysplasia as a legitimate reason not to run.

I remember “running” the mile in junior high. I am pretty sure it took me about 16 or 17 minutes because I walked the whole time. Wanting to get a better grade, I came early before school another day to try to beat my time. I ran, jogged and walked my way to an approximate 15-minute mile.

When I got done I went outside to cool off. I’ll never forget the vice principal coming out to ask me if I was OK. I’m sure my tomato-red dripping sweat face caused him some alarm.

I was OK – just not prepared, or able, to run a mile.

In high school when we had to run the mile in gym class, I brought a doctor’s note. That guaranteed me a certified spot at the finish line – as the official timer.

I’m sure it irritated my winded classmates to see me standing there, smiling while clocking their times. I was exempt from running the mile.

But I don’t want to be exempt anymore. Part of me wonders if I could have run sooner.

I haven’t had any hip pain since I started running this past May. None. It’s kind of amazing.

Don’t get me wrong. Starting to run hasn’t been easy, but I honestly believe that if I can do it anyone can.

The first time I ran I made it down to the corner of my street. Not even one block. My lungs were burning, my legs were burning and I was shaking from head to toe.

I came home red-faced and ego-bruised. I couldn’t see how it was ever going to get better.

But I kept going. Why? I have no idea.

It’s a little easier now. I still get bright red in the face, but my legs don’t ache nearly as badly, I don’t get nearly the same amount of side aches and my lungs don’t feel like they are on fire any more – at least not all the time.

What made me want to start running? Who knows? Maybe it was the fact that I hang out with a lot of runners, who talk a lot about running. They act nonchalant about it. They talk about it like it’s a piece of cake.

So I decided to buy a pair of serious running shoes and hit the pavement. Trust me it isn’t that easy. The first time I wore my fancy shoes I rubbed a giant blister onto the side of my left foot.

But I strapped on some moleskin and went out again.

Maybe I was inspired by the different types of people I have seen crossing the finish line at all of the races my husband has ran.

I have seen big, little, old and young cross the finish line. I have seen runners and walkers cross the finish line. I have seen my own 6-year-old son cross the finish line. Talk about inspiring.

Whatever the reason, I can guarantee that I have asked myself “Why” a lot. Especially when I am a mile away from home and I’m panting, sweating and nearly collapsing.

Why did I start running?

I don’t know for sure, but I know that it has been liberating. I have been able to do something that I NEVER thought I could. When I can run for a mile without having to stop and walk to catch my breath – which doesn’t happen very often – I feel alive.

I’m not a professional by any means. I still have a long ways to go.

A couple of weeks ago I nearly threw up while on a run with one of my best friends. She urged me to throw up in the bushes next to us but I refused.

I was horrified, embarrassed and dejected.

I am sure there will be times when I have to walk to catch my breath. Times when I rub a blister onto my left foot. Times when I come home exhausted with aching thigh muscles.

But even so, I am doing something I never, ever, thought I could. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who never thought I would be able to run.

If any of my old classmates want a rematch, I’ll head over to the high school with them. This time they can time me.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Michelle
    Oct 10, 2013 @ 08:48:00

    Go Nat!!!!


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