It's such a good feeling to cross something off your bucket list.

I have never been a runner. I've never enjoyed running. But, on a cold December afternoon on the Colorado Riverfront Trail I realized it was possible that could all change. Gradually, that hike became a run and suddenly the thought popped into my head  'hey, I can do this!'

I want to be in good health and be somewhat reasonably fit. But, running on a treadmill is not the most exciting way to spend 30 minutes of your day. And so, when I started the new year with a gym membership I needed some motivation. The idea came to me that training for a 5K might be a good way to stay motivated on the treadmill, so I put completing a 5K on my 2019 bucket list. It's something I have never done before - or ever had any desire to do.

I began to read and learn everything I could about training for a 5k and started the journey. However, after two weeks of training, I started having issues with my left foot and running and walking became painful. I changed shoes, engaged in daily exercises and stretches, took some days off from running - all in hopes of being ready to participate in the Sweet Heart 5K in Fruita on February 16. I began to think there is no way I'll be ready. My first 5K ever will have to wait.

But, I stuck with it and didn't give up hope. The week before the event I was running outside without pain. My optimism grew. I'm gonna do this!

Zane Mathews
Zane Mathews

Race day came. I was excited.  As the large group of us stood at the starting line, the countdown to start began. I actually felt a little emotional. I've never done anything like this in my life, and here I am ready for this new adventure. I was nervous.

My intention was not to be competitive - except with myself. Based on my training times, I knew what I was capable and that's all I wanted to do. Do my best, and perhaps be a little faster than my best training time - and then build from there. Fact is, I really hadn't trained long enough for this and my expectations were low.

The run started, and the pace was quicker than what I was used to. Most of the people running were younger than me, so, mostly  I just wanted to show well in my age group. Lord, don't let me finish last, I thought.

I ran hard and steady. I did not stop.

Crossing the finish line was exhilarating. My time was 26:32 - 30 seconds faster than my best training time. When the results were posted, there I was - 3rd place in my age group and 23rd overall out of 258 finishers. And, I realize, that not all of the participants were runners. However, my expectations were far exceeded and the sense of accomplishment I felt made this six-week experience all worthwhile.

My goal was to do one 5K in 2019. Done. So, what's next? Maybe another one?  Who knows, maybe more. Only time will tell if I'm really going to be a runner.

But, what I learned through this experience is that you can do whatever you put your mind to. Get out of your comfort zone, step out of your box, have an adventure. You only live once. Don't wait for life to come to you. Go out and make it happen. Set a goal and go after it with everything you've got.

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