Running got me through the pandemic. So I decided to run the Drumstick Dash

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ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — I have a love-hate relationship with running.

I’m not one of those people that can go on a run everyday. More power to those that do. But I like to change up my workout routine.

But when I got the opportunity to run the virtual 5K for the Atlantic Union Drumstick Dash, I said to myself, “Why not?”. Every participant in the event raises money for the Roanoke Rescue Mission and there’s more people that need the help this year than ever before.

Running has been a part of my life since high school when I decided to run on the track team. I ran all three seasons: indoor, outdoor and cross country. I wasn’t very good at it. But it was just one of those sports that you did when you weren’t good at any other sport.

I liked cross country the most because you weren’t running around an oval. Instead, you were on a course that was often challenging and had a mix of flat terrain and hills. After high school, I ran in 5K races periodically, from Turkey Trots to Fourth of July events.

During the pandemic, running was one of the few things that you could do to forget that coronavirus even existed. When stay-at-home orders were in effect and gyms were closed, running was the one thing you could do to not only get exercise but also get out of the house before you lost your mind. I don’t think I appreciated long-distance running more than I did in 2020.

But I never trained enough to do half marathons, let alone the full 26.2 miles. Five kilometers is easy to mentally prepare for. It’s just over three miles (3.1 to be exact).

That first mile, you just want to get off to a good start and get on a comfortable pace. It’s that second mile that becomes a bit of a test, both physically and mentally. If you go too hard early, then you’re thinking if you’ve got enough in the tank for the remaining two-thirds of the race. If you’re too slow, then you lose the motivation to even finish. I just keep telling myself to get to the two-mile mark.

By the time you’re in the third mile, you start to regain some confidence. It’s only a mile and a tenth to go. You start checking your pace more often and see if you can pick it up a bit, leaving enough in the tank for that final kick.

I used to run sub-30 5Ks. Now I’m happy if I can average ten minutes a mile. I guess if I ran more regularly, I can get back to finishing these races in less than half an hour.

But much like how we feel about 2020, I’m happy to just finish.

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