What Running a 10K Feels Like

running 10K
Image via Galit Breen

This morning is cool. Sunlight kisses the skyline, my shoulders, the thousands of women by my side. It softens the glow around us, frames our space, claims our here.

I tip my face to it and note the clouds; I’m grateful for both.

We walk in step, all of us.

I always assume I’m the only one feeling this way. But I should know better than that. We’re really a lot more similar than we are different, aren’t we?

The woman to my right with her hair pulled back tightly, dark curls gracing her neck, ear buds in place, smile wide.

The two women on my other side whose words are threading so very quickly and efficiently as they stretch their long legs in sync.

And my favorite — the group of moms in front of me who turn their backs, hands on hips, and let their capes fly.

I adjust my armband, splay my fingers, press my palms against the stretch of my pants, and bite back my nerves.

I ran my first 10k this weekend. Team Ortho’s Women Rock – more than 7,000 women donned in pink, vying for jackets, and not opposed to the champagne (and firemen!) at the finish.

“I’m nervous,” my friend says.

“You are?” I think.

Because I always assume I’m the only one feeling this way. But I should know better than that. We’re really a lot more similar than we are different, aren’t we?

I’m nervous, too. I’m prepared. I know I can run this distance – not quickly, but still, I can run it. I’m nervous because I need to do this on my own. One step in front of the other like I do on my early morning runs when the sun peaks through the sky and while my hearts are tucked in their warm beds, I lace my sneakers and find my go. I need to do that here. But there’s something about this large group that unsteadies me and I feel unsure.

The women in front of me, the ones in capes, start walking and the rest of us follow. When the crowd thins, we each find our own go and begin our runs. My friends take off ahead, I find my pace, my rhythm, my okay with alone.

You can do more than you think. Your stretch feels divine. The people around you want you to succeed.

Our sneakered feet move in unison, the background to this path, as we make our way down the street. This course goes up and back. Ahead of me, I hear women cheering and I crane my neck to see why. And then, I see her. The first runner is already heading back. Her legs are ridiculously strong, her pace mirrors the feeling.

As she passes each section of women, we, they, all of us, cheer for her. It’s collective and spontaneous and comes from that deep place inside where all of our truths lie – we’re proud and inspired and just plain happy for her.

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This happens every time a woman goes by.

Way to go, those of us who are still on our way up call.

You’ve got this! They yell back.

I find my ease in this crowd of women who are supporting each other. (This is unusual for me, and I’m proud, if not a little surprised, that I feel this way.) Alone within together fits right.

At the water stops women and men and teenagers hand us water in small plastic cups. They’re lined up and ready with their nourishment – water, words, smiles.

Along the sides people have set up chairs of encouragement with signs and calls and the occasional bell.

A little boy just about Brody’s age stands by his dad holding a neon sign with big, bold letters: NICE BUTT. We all laugh, we needed that on this step, this hill, this slice of sunshine that made its way through.

A woman with wavy auburn hair holds a poster board – the kind I pored over in grade school and high school — with carefully printed letters and cut and pasted magazine cutouts. As I pass, I see that her words say: Keep your eye on the prizes… And those cutouts? Are firemen.

Run like a… Mother! You’ve got this! Downhill to the finish! Pick those heels up!

These women and men and little boys with inappropriate signs all took the time to come and cheer us on, to help us find our go, to be here with us. I’m awed.

At the finish, my friends are already waiting. Our faces are red and our legs are tired, but our smiles are wide. We did it! They say. And, indeed, we did.

At my very core, I feel proud about attaining a goal that used to feel so out of reach, I couldn’t touch it even with outstretched fingertips.

Two years ago, I taught myself how to run. I walked and ran for 17 minutes a day until I could do it. The cutout signs were in my head – You can do this!

A year later, I ran my first 5k.

One step in front of the other, too many to count early mornings, two pairs of running shoes, one marathon-training husband, friends who said Of course you can when I said I wanted to try, later, here I am. My first 10k: Done.

And here’s what I now know. You can do more than you think. Your stretch feels divine. The people around you want you to succeed. Their signs – bells and words and water passed hand to sweaty hand – are right there. You just have to be willing to see, and accept them.

And when you do? You’ll find your shine, finisher’s medal (or pretty pendant!) in hand.

For running encouragement, support, and inspiration, we love:

Christine from Love Life Surf

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Michele from NYC Running Mama

Laura from Mommy Run Fast

Amanda from Miss Zippy

Lisa from RunWiki

Jess from Pace of Me

Greta from GFunkified

What do you think?

What Running a 10K Feels Like

Galit Breen is the bestselling author of Kindness Wins, a simple guide to teaching your child to be kind online; the TEDx Talk, “Raising a digital kid without having been one”; the online course Raise Your Digital Kid™; and the Facebook group The Savvy Parents Club. She believes you can get your child a phone and still create a grass-beneath-their-bare-feet childhood for them. Galit’s writing has been featured on The Huffington Post; The Washington Post; Buzzfeed; TIME; and more. She liv ... More

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9 comments

  1. ilenemevans says:

    Love Love love! 10K is a respectable distance. Not that a 5K isn’t. But you have to hang in there a little longer for your 10K – it’s commitment. And you describe those “nerves” perfectly. I still get them before a race. THey are more like happy butterflies, but they never fail!

  2. Elaine says:

    Congratulations, Galit!!!! That is so awesome and yes, such a wonderful feeling! I’m so proud that you did this for YOU and I am smiling from ear to ear for you! YAY!! 😀

  3. Andrea says:

    I love the message, that when we are surrounded by people who encourage and love us, we are held up by them when we set out to do something scary but great. It’s a reminder I need everyday.

    Way to go! A 10K is a huge accomplishment.

  4. cyu888 says:

    Oh I love this so much Galit and thank you for including me. I love your description of all the emotions and feelings that day, the feeling of running – so inspiring!

  5. Lisa says:

    Galit, What a great description of achieving a goal that you’ve worked so hard for. It reminds of Diana Nyad who recently made history by swimming from Cuba to Florida. We won’t all make history, but we can set a goal that seems out of reach and work hard to attain it, and that is exactly what you did! SO inspiring! Thank you so much for mentioning my site.

  6. gfunkified says:

    Oh, my goodness, I was in love with this post, Galit, because it is so inspirational and SO my story as well. And then I see my name? THANK YOU.

  7. Phammom says:

    I physically can’t run. But this article describes how I felt on the breast cancer 60 miles 3-day walk. I walked all 60 and its the best feeling ever to accomplish.

  8. Kaitlin says:

    I love this! very inspirational and motivating

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