For 10 weeks now, on Saturday mornings, I have dutifully headed into town to learn to run. Each week, the clinic began with a speaker who shed light on some aspect of running – from stretching to injuries; from nutrition to clothing. After 30 minutes of listening, we participated in a group warm-up and then split off into our levelled groups. In my group, titled ‘racers’ (rather than walkers or walk/runners), each week’s run introduced us to a strategy to help us improve our racing technique. We ran fartleks, did track work-outs, ran hill repeats and ran at tempo. We did it all and we are now considered ready for the big race.

Tomorrow morning is the 5 km Graduation Run. I am trying to take it seriously but it feels a little silly to me. I ran 20 km without batting an eye last weekend and ran another 11 km this afternoon. So much for tapering! I even considered running to the race and from home afterwards (8 km each way) just to make the day worthwhile.

I guess I need an attitude adjustment. This is a BIG deal for some of the participants and I should be more respectful of that. When I think back – way back to 1995 – I remember my first 8 km race.

It was a Women’s Only 8 km run, held at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver. With a downhill profile, it was a race with guaranteed success. I trained hard for it, on my own, and I pushed myself to my limit. I remember feeling so proud at the end. Bruce, who rode his bike to sections of the route, had miscalculated my finish time and missed me completely – mostly because I ran way faster than my ‘best case scenario’.

For me, tomorrow marks my graduation to a new social group of runners in the Comox Valley and my re-entry into road running. For so many others, tomorrow marks a change of lifestyle and an “I Can” attitude about setting and keeping goals. Best wishes to all of those who dared to get off the couch and give running a whirl!