On Saturday I ran my first 5k in years. Unfamiliar with kilometers? Well, 5k is equal to 3.1 miles. This is a great distance for beginning runners, training for 6-9 weeks you should be able to do this distance, it is just long enough to run but you can get away with walking the entire distance too. I trained for the race for about 3 weeks BUT I have been exercising consistently for five or six months now and many years ago I was a runner. My body has felt good and when I did a long run on Wednesday I felt great. When I woke up Saturday morning I had tons of energy so I cleaned my room (actually I thought the a/c repair man was going to have to come into my room so I wanted it to be presentable- ahem). I later tried on different running outfits and no it was not a fashion show but we were running in skirts and I wanted to look cute and have a functional outfit.
I settled on my skirt with leggings and a tank top it had to be at least 86 degrees and I wanted to be unrestricted and cool as possible on my run. I arrived at the park about an hour and a half before the race began to pick up my microchip that records race time. That took no time at all so my husband and I walked around the park and chatted about the other runners. We saw some folks that looked ready to win the race and were gearing up with sprints beforehand. I watched as folks trotted by while I found a comfortable spot beneath trees to relax in. Race time came quickly and at the start line a childhood survivor of cancer spoke to us and thanked us for our participation in the race. A portion of the proceeds were going to the Rally foundation which conducts childhood cancer research. The young woman gave a very moving testimony and it definitely helped put everything in perspective.
About five minutes later the race began and we were off. I'd like to say it was easy but that would be a lie. It was hot as Hades out there and I felt the difference in my run immediately. I completed the first mile at a 9 minute pace but quickly slowed down as the heat overtook me. Although I hadn't planned on stopping at the water station, I had to because by mile 1.4 I was hot and thirsty. I changed my running plan from running the entire distance to running and walking up hills - I guess I could have pushed it but when it seemed like I could walk faster than I could run it made sense to just walk.
In this race the women had a 3 minute lead and men started catching up to me at about mile 1. Many of them were just racing by but this one guy was clearing having trouble. As he trotted beside me he grunted the entire way. I heard all of this because my iPhone app malfunctioned and I didn't have my music to motivate me. Next race I am just going to make a playlist on my iPod and keep it moving. Running in silence I kept my pace by listening to my breathing and the other folks huffing and puffing around me. By the time I reached the last hill of the race I decided to run for it, I knew the race was almost over because I was familiar with the course.
Church bells were ringing so I knew it was 6 o'clock and I hadn't finished the race in 30 minutes but I was so close I pushed it. As I viewed the finish line and clock in the distance I ran downhill in perfect form (I know this because my husband made fun of me and said watching me run he could hear Chariots of Fire playing in the background!) and crossed the finish line before the two men that were running by my side.
I immediately walked to the refreshment stand to get something to drink, it was funny because all during the race my bladder was protesting but when the race was over I no longer had the urge to pee. Perhaps it was nerves but next time no drinking for me during the last hour before a race!
After my husband found me I got a icy cold beer and a chipoltle veggie sandwich.
I drank the beer and ate the sandwich- happy but a little disappointed that I didn't run the entire race. I changed my tune and decided to just be happy that I finished the race and now have a goal to run the entire time for the next one. My official time - 32.08 and I ran at a 10:21 pace.
Overall I am excited that I finished the race, I was far from exhausted and I will continue to train for the next one. 6 months ago I doubt I could have run five minutes - the weight was just too much for my body to bare and now, I am running races and looking forward to it. Sometimes I forget how far I have truly come and have to remind myself to celebrate the victories. And this 5k was indeed a victory!