Proud to have finished the run

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Elizabeth Newman, McKnight's Senior Editor
Elizabeth Newman, McKnight's Senior Editor
About a week ago, I called my husband in tears while at an outdoor running track while being passed by both very old women and very young teenagers. I hated all of them.   

I am not a runner, but like any reasonably ambitious person, I'm a big believer in goal setting.

This is not just because I'm a Chaos Muppet who needs deadlines. It's because without goals, the day-to-day life most of us lead because a blur of appointments, and just making do. Show me a nursing home administrator or DON who doesn't set goals, or encourage employees to have goals, and I will show you a facility that has serious problems.

But while we all need professional goals, we also need personal goals. So in 2012, I made a goal to do a modest 5K. I laid my eyes upon Proud to Run, a 5K on June 23 which a) went toward causes I believe in b) would mean I conquered a lifelong apathy of running stemming from childhood exercise-induced asthma and c) gave me six months to get up to speed, so to speak.

As the big day approached, I discovered that running outside is way more challenging than on a treadmill indoors, especially when you're trying to keep up with your gazelle-like younger sister (in the picture above, at right) and Chicago is yearning to be like my home state of Virginia in its 90-degree humid days. Hence, the teary phone call that went something like “I hate this, I can't do this, life is terrible, blah blah blah.”

My wonderful husband, of course, said, “you'll be great,” and my cheery but pragmatic sister said “you'll kill this; you just need better socks and better music.”

So, wearing my new running socks and armed with Lady Gaga and Rihanna (no judging!), sister and I lined up last Saturday at Montrose Harbor to conquer this thing. While she sprinted off on her 10K, I focused on one mile at a time. It was hot, it was hard, and there were several times that I thought, “what are you trying to prove? No one cares if you walk, or even quit. Given that people are wearing rainbow tutus, there's no one even looking at you.” But that's the thing about goals: no one ultimately cares, or benefits, more than you.

So I ran that whole 5K, and finished faster than I thought possible, and was not even the last person in my age group.

It is hard for many of us to not be good at something, whether it's public speaking, math, or tossing a baseball. Running did not, and does not, come easily to me.  But in the end, that made it even sweeter to cross the finish line.

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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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