St. Charles 5K: A personal Journey


Photo by Erin Ellerbrock There I am in the back pretending to run towards the finish line! It took all my energy to do that for this photo.

Erin Ellerbrock Lindenlink Contributor

I’m not a good runner, but I am a good pretender. It took me a long time and a lot of pain to come to this conclusion, but it all started with a 5k. When I signed up to run the We Love St. Charles 5k walk/run in Point DuSable Park, I didn’t actually plan to run it. All I wanted to do was to contribute to a good cause. We Love St. Charles helps needy families in the St. Charles area, but before I knew it, conviction set in.

You know that thought, the one where you’re watching someone do something and you think, “I can do it better. . . ,” but you’ve never actually done it before? That’s how I am every single time I watch someone run. It’s never been true but that doesn’t seem to stop me. That’s the thought that got the better of me and caused me to want to run the We Love St. Charles 5k. And “run” I did.

Photo by Erin Ellerbrock
There I am in the back, pretending to run towards the finish line! It took all my energy to do that for this photo.

Running for me is like the five stages of grief. It all starts with denial. As I approached the starting line, I was nothing less than a giant energy ball pumped for a runner’s high. That should have been the first warning sign, as I’ve never actually experienced a runner’s high. I shot out of the gate (spending all my energy on a sprint) and quickly lost momentum, as usual, ending the first stage of grief.

The second stage of grief is anger, and like clockwork, the anger set in. “Why did I use up all my energy like that?” was all I could think as I angrily punished my body along the trail. This was the point where people started to pass me with ease, only adding to my anger.

After realizing my anger was futile, and honestly probably using up what small supply of energy I had left, I moved on to the bargaining stage. “God, if you help me finish this race, I’ll run on a regular basis and stop falling asleep during my prayers.”

Having no instant gratification here, I inevitably moved on to depression. . .

As children starting passing me (around mile two) and while I was wallowing around in my failure, I tried to think back, where did I go wrong? People have often commented that I “look like a runner” which has on multiple occasions caused me to go on shopping sprees to buy “runner clothes” and even resulted in the purchase of a woefully underused treadmill. The idea of being a runner has appealed to me so much in the past that I’ve pretended to be one many times, this being the most pathetic. I’d fooled everyone, including myself.

Acceptance. I’m not, nor will I ever be a runner. I might not even have any fast twitch muscle fibers. I use all my energy right out of the gate and then snail my way to the finish line. I’m pretty sure I finished last in my division at the We Love St. Charles 5k walk/run, but I’m not 100% on that since I came in with the walkers.

I would like to say that I’ve learned my lesson, but in my heart, I know that I’m one “you look like a runner” comment away from making a fool of myself again.