For the love of the run

Dozens of races are held in Shelby County each year. (contributed)

Dozens of races are held in Shelby County each year. (contributed)

By CASSANDRA MICKENS/Associate Editor

I really, really love to run. It wasn’t always that way, though.

I first laced up my sneakers in November 2012 after signing up for a half marathon training program. It was an impromptu decision rooted in an attempt to fend off holiday weight gain. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and not because of the 20 or so pounds I shed.

That was the least of it.

Running pushes me to be better than I ever thought possible, and the community is like no other. Of course, there are good days and bad days, but there’s always someone — be it family, friend or perfect stranger — pushing and high-fiving you along the way. Women’s marathoning pioneer Katherine Switzer perhaps put it best: “If you are losing faith in humanity, go out and watch a marathon.”

As I browsed through our community calendar, I couldn’t help but notice the number of 5K run/walks on the horizon in Shelby County, starting with the Frostbite 5K and Fun Run and The Chocolate 5K, both set for Feb. 1 at Veterans Park. Proceeds from the Frostbite 5K, starting at 8 a.m., will benefit Young Life Shelby County, an adolescent ministry. Proceeds from The Chocolate 5K, starting at 4 p.m., will benefit the Autism Society of Alabama. Visit birminghamtrackclub.com for more details.

If you haven’t participated in a 5K event before, I suggest you give it a try. The 3.1-mile distance is doable even if you have no prior running experience, and walking is always an option. Plus, it’s always good to get the heart pumping and senses flowing while contributing to a good cause.

As for me, I’m in the midst of training for my fourth half marathon — the Mercedes-Benz Marathon and Half Marathon in downtown Birmingham — Feb. 16. I know several Shelby Countians will run the race as well, and I wish you all the best of luck. You’re gonna crush it!

Cassandra Mickens is associate editor for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 13 or by email at cassandra.mickens@shelbycountyreporter.com. She is @CassMickens on Twitter.