The Hope Challenge 5K: hope for families in KC

Note: Kansas City Moms Blog is a proud sponsor of the Hope Challenge 5K. We invited local mom Kristin Littrell to share with us her journey to the Hope Challenge 5K and hope that her story will encourage others to embark on a similar journey of their own.

For many people, running three miles is no big deal. You can even give up all forms of physical activity for months at a time, and then lace up your tennis shoes and go for an easy two or three mile run. My husband is one of you. I am not.

I’ve always believed I couldn’t run. I think it started in elementary school PE. Whenever we had to complete any distance run for a fitness test, I struggled (and usually walked across the finish line). I felt defeated, and even a little bit stupid. I figured out pretty early in life what I did well, and like most people, I wasn’t a fan of things I didn’t do well. I avoided anything requiring athletic ability, but especially running.

As an adult, I knew I needed to run something – anything. I needed to rewrite the refrains that had been echoing in my head for far too long. I needed to prove to myself that there isn’t something better, or more special, about a runner. I needed to prove, if only to myself, that the same discipline and determination that lives inside “them” also lives inside me.

I sat down and googled Couch-to-5K plans, along with upcoming races in my area. I had been down this road before, only to face defeat, so I kept my plan quiet at first; after all, this race wasn’t about other people, it was about me. I downloaded the training app, printed my plan, and wrote out my schedule with

the same old refrains can be rewritten

scrawled down the side as a reminder to me of why I was doing this. Then I hung it above my desk in our bedroom, a daily reminder and motivation for my journey.

For the first few weeks of my training plan, I struggled through 3-5 minutes of running, followed by stretches of walking – steady intervals that strengthened my heart and my mind. It wasn’t easy, and I didn’t enjoy it – but I was committed to seeing it through. And then one day, my first day attempting a run outside, I looked at my plan and it said “run twenty minutes.” I couldn’t believe it. I was convinced I couldn’t do it.

I walked north on our street, a five-minute warm-up, the nausea increasing with every step I took. I was so afraid, I was literally making myself sick: afraid of running. Afraid of failing. As I started running, I coughed that “I really might be getting ready to puke” cough. Slowly, my stomach settled. I talked to myself incessantly, “I can do this, it’ll get easier, the same old refrains can be rewritten …,” and when I got home, I practically shouted at Jacob, “I did it!” I ran for twenty minutes.

That day changed everything for me. I had done what I thought was impossible, what I believed I couldn’t do. It wasn’t easy after that, but it was easier and I was a little less afraid than when I started down this path.

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Hope Challenge 5KThe Hope Challenge 5K is a fast (and flat!), family-friendly 5K run/walk through the beautiful Plaza and Brookside neighborhoods in Kansas City. No matter how many of your family members participate in the race itself (strollers are welcome at this event), the Hope Challenge 5K and its surrounding events are great fun for the whole family with balloon artists, hair spray color, temporary tattoos, a visit from the Chick-fil-A cow, FREE FOOD and more! Kids can participate in a Kids Fun Run following the completion of the 5K.

This annual event benefits House of Hope, a non-denominational, parent-interactive, residential group home and school here in Kansas City for hurting teen girls ages 13 through 17. The staff at House of Hope help struggling teen girls get the help they need and reconcile with their families, serving as a significant source of just that – HOPE – for families across the metro area.

click here to register for the Hope Challenge 5K

The 5K begins at 8 a.m. in Theis Park (at the intersection of Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard and Oak Street) – across from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and just minutes from the Plaza and UMKC.

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Race day came, and before long, my friend Sam and I were out on the street, surrounded by people, starting my first 5K – the Hope Challenge. I told Sam beforehand that I wanted to run really slow, that endurance was more important to me than speed, and that I really wanted to be able to run the entire race. We let lots of people pass us as we trotted along. A few of our friends were manning the race so we waved and yelled as we passed.

It was a humid morning, and we hadn’t even finished a mile yet when we decided it was pretty hot out, as well. As we ran, we talked about life and family and birthdays; our casual conversation eventually quieted any fear and anxiety left in my heart. After a small incline, and another turned corner, we headed back to the north – our final leg of the race. I’ll never forget that moment. Ahead, down a long stretch of open road, we saw the little blue arch that was the finish line. In that moment, I knew I had made it. I knew I could do this. I could really do it. I had done it.

During that final stretch, I felt tears wet my eyes for just a moment – and while I was too focused to let myself lose it, I still tear up every time I think of it. Over three miles of Plaza streets, the weight of believing I couldn’t do something – I wasn’t good enough, athletic enough, strong enough – had fallen along the roadside like little petals a flower girl drops down a wedding aisle. I passed the finish line lighter and stronger – a different person than I was just 34 minutes earlier.

click here to register for the Hope Challenge 5K

Kansas City Moms Blog is giving away a complimentary race registration AND race t-shirt to one lucky KCMB reader. Enter to win below!

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