So, three months into Amy Collins' quest to run a 5K, May 5th, race day, finally arrived. How did she do? Read on for the triumphant conclusion.
By Amy M. Collins
Last fall, when talking to a coworker, I mentioned that I’d like to get into running. She’d participated in various races and marathons, and asked if I wanted to do a 5K with her. I remember informing her that I was not a runner, couldn’t possibly run a 5K, and perhaps we could cycle together instead. I had a lot of excuses: I have anxiety; I have a small heart condition; I have bad joints; I’m easily winded . . . and the list went on.
Yesterday, together with that same coworker and another close friend, I ran the MHA 5K. I did it!
Right up until I arrived at FDR park, I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to run. I had trained and prepared, but last week I sustained an injury to my knee—I had spent the week limping, icing my knee, resting, and going to my chiropractor in the hopes of a miraculous recovery. My friends, family, and coworkers kept telling me not to risk further damage, there would be other races. But this wasn’t just a race for me. It was a way to prove to myself that anxiety was no longer going to rule my life. And in light of the anxiety and panic that had been holding me back, what better race to join than one that supports mental health?
I was still limping about as I warmed up for the race. But something about the day was making me feel better: it was sunny, warm, there was a crowd of amazing people, the atmosphere was charged with excitement and happiness. There were even cute dogs milling about with their owners. With my two friends at my side, we started the race and we didn’t stop!
I kept waiting for the pain in my knee to flare up, but it didn’t—even on those intense hills that were described as “gentle slopes.” My running companions were supportive the entire way, never leaving my side. By the time we cleared mile 2, I knew I would finish.
In the last stretch we could hear people cheering, and that’s when the adrenaline really kicked in. It’s that moment in the sun, the applause in your ears, the people cheering you on, when you feel, if only for a second, that you really are an athlete. In that moment, you are a star. I sprinted toward the finish line, half smiling, half crying. I can honestly say it was one of the happiest moments of my life.
I completed the race in 35 minutes, and, as I joked to friends later, I came in number one (hundred and two).
Ten years ago my anxiety practically kept me from leaving the house. Five years ago I had worked through the worst of it, but still suffered from frequent panic attacks. Three years ago my attacks were no longer running my life, but I was still having trouble with hypochondria. Three months ago I decided I was going to prove to myself that I was not a weak, frail person. That I was strong, healthy, and fit. Proving this to myself yesterday was one of the most amazing feelings I have ever had. It sounds so cliché, but I really do believe that if you want something badly enough, you CAN do it.
I’ve really enjoyed writing these blog posts and hope that, in some small way, they perhaps resonated with somebody. I want to thank the MHA, particularly Audrey Brooks, for encouraging me to write these posts, and for rooting for me throughout these past 13 weeks.
And I want to say thank you to all of my friends and loved ones for supporting me, helping me fundraise for the cause, believing in me, and listening to me talk about running nonstop for the past few months. Thank you to those who came to the race to cheer me on, and to my two friends who ran the race with me, and finally, to Dr. Chris Perrone of Mahopac for getting me from barely walking to running in less than a week. I can’t wait for my next race!