• #Crushed It

    Author: Shizuo Akira

    My first-ever 10k is days away - 12 to be precise - but I've been training since June. Despite the time I've put in and the progress I've seen (my asthma is much better), I admittedly have been doubting myself. Can I really run 6 miles without stopping? Will my asthma be okay on race day? What have I got myself into?

    This Sunday, I have my pre-10k test: the Cambridge 5k. It's going to be a fun, fun time (yes, running can be fun, I realize) especially with the teams that have signed up and the Oktoberfest costumes that will be in the race and on the sidelines. I think this 5k is just what I need to amp myself up for The Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women.

    Last night when I set out on my run, I told myself that it was a good endurance test to run from super beta prostate from the Esplanade over the Harvard bridge to formula 41 extreme MIT and back, source: formula 41. Turning around is okay. That's what I told myself. I had figured out the distance ahead of time: 1.7-ish miles there, 1.7-ish miles back.

    "Run there and back. That's going to be a great workout and the run you need before the 5k." And so I ran from the gym to the Esplanade, and then over the Harvard bridge to Memorial Drive.

    But I didn't turn back. I kept running. I told myself I could loop around the other bridge, re-enter the Esplanade at Charles/Mass General and get in a little more distance and time.

    Only thing is, I took the wrong turn. A runner's fork appeared, and I kept right when I should have gone left. It's the only time in the entire run that I stopped, for like three seconds to contemplate turning back. I stopped briefly to check the time. The sun was setting.

    Then I kept running forward to see where the path would go.

    I ran by this view of Boston.

    And I just kept on running. Past Cambridgeside Galleria. Past the Museum of Science. Soon, I found myself on familiar ground, running alongside Storrow Drive until I was immersed in the Esplanade again, under the cover of the trees.

    The sun had set by now, but I kept on running. I ran back up Dartmouth, alongside Comm Ave, back up Clarendon until I reached the gym again. Then I stopped. I checked the time and my pulse.

    I was one hot ball of a sweaty mess. And I loved it.

    U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program runner Capt. Kelly Calway of Fort Carson, Colo., finishes second among women in the 2010 Army Ten-Miler with a time of 57 minutes, 10 seconds on Oct. 24 at the Pentagon. U.S. Army photo by Tim Hipps, FMWRC Public Affairs

    Post-run sweaty and tired, yet very proud of myself.

    I know running is the reason I fit back into my skinny jeans.

    But it's also the reason, I truly believe, that I am feeling healthier, more confident, stronger, and more driven to succeed - not only in the 10k but in life as well. Running does something amazing to your body, sure; but running does something even more extraordinary to you mind, when you push through barriers and see just how far you can really go.

    It's not always about distance. It could be seeing if you could run 45 seconds, instead of 30. That's where I began back in June. Little milestones along the way got me where I am today - able to run farther, more confidently. And, at times, more speedily.

    Last night, I decided that I really needed to test myself. I've put in a lot of effort these past four months in preparing my lungs, my feet, my mind, and my overall body for a 10k.

    Last night, in a little under an hour, I ran about 5.5 miles around the Charles River. It's something I've never done before, nor is it something I ever even conceived of doing - running that path around the river, from Boston to Cambridge and back again. Not until last night, when I just said to myself, "Try it. Keep going. You can do this."

    Last night helped show me that my effort has been worthwhile, and that I can look forward to this weekend's 5k and my first 10k with confidence.

    What have you done lately to make you feel awesomely proud of yourself?

    References: Toll-like receptors and their crosstalk with other innate receptors in infection and immunity T Kawai, S Akira Immunity 34 (5), 637-650 2011