Race Day – My first 5K

I got busy with life and never finished journaling about my Couch to 5K experience.

The week before the race I did pretty well on my runs, had a better attitude, and started believing I could actually do this. That was a good week and a good feeling. Our last group run before the race was horrible. It was hot. My legs didn’t seem to want to work and I was running with a limp. That was weird. Nothing had happened, I had not overdone anything or injured myself previously – they just didn’t want to work. I ended up having to walk a larger portion of the end of that run than I should have. So I didn’t have the best confidence heading into race morning. I was exited the time was finally there and I was going to reach my goal. I was excited to do this thing with my friends. Before the race I did everything right as far as sleep, nutrition, hydration and warm up. But I was nervous. I felt so much better once I got to the starting line area and met up with the running group. It really is true that I couldn’t have (or wouldn’t have) done any of this without the group’s support and accountability. Being there with friends and the excitement of the festivities gave me the pump up I needed. I was excited to go. Three of us lined up in the 12 minute mile section, and although the other two are typically ahead of me on our runs I managed to keep up with them pretty well for the first mile. The first mile was great. Crowded, but felt good that I was at a good pace, passing some people, and didn’t even have to walk over the incline of the bridge. Nope, I did not stop once for that whole first mile. The periodic walk breaks did start a bit into mile 2 and I dropped further behind my faster friends as expected. Mile 2 was getting frustrating due to the amount of children walking on the left hand side of the path instead of keeping right. Don’t those little bastards know the rules? And where are their parents? That whole second mile I really tried positive self talk and kept chanting in my head, “the body is a machine, the body can keep going. The body is a machine, the body can keep going,” trying to convince myself I didn’t need to stop. There was an Asian teenage girl and a lady in her forties with a blonde ponytail that we kept all passing each other than slowing down, passing each other than slowing down. They kind of became my new running team, they just didn’t know it. When mile 3 started I was like “oh hell no, I am not walking any more, I can totally do this and I need to run across that finish line. When my family sees me I better be running. When the finish line camera snaps a photo, I better be running.” And I did muster whatever energy I had left to make sure I ran that final 0.1 mile. And then…”where’s the finish line? The Finish line should be here by now. Hey, there’s my coach waving. Hey, this has definitely been more than 0.1 miles since I crossed the river…. any second now, any second now.” Out loud I say to myself (panting heavily) “You can do this” and an older lady ahead of me turns her head, smiles, and says “Thanks I needed that.” Then we turned the corner, went another fifty yards and the Finish Line was finally there. Yes, come to find out that course was too long. Instead of 3.1 miles for the 5K, it was actually 3.3. Probably not a big deal to most, unless you are a first time runner trying not to collapse, then it makes a big difference. The farthest I had run up until that point was 2.9 miles. My final time was 43:22, which was around what I expected. But the timing didn’t matter to me so much as just finishing, staying upright, and being done. My husband and kids were right by the finish line cheering me on, which meant so much to me since they are not the most enthusiastic crowd-loving people, so I ran over for a quick hug as soon as I was done. Then met up with the running girls who all came in at all various times. It was an awesome feeling – we did it! Whew. This couch potato ran & completed her first 5K race!

 

Couch to 5K: Weeks 2 – 7

I haven’t given you the weekly play by play of my Couch to 5K training (you’re welcome) for two reasons. One, I’ve been very busy and tired. And two, I have been keeping a running diary that our coach gave us. But so many emotions are going on right now, its time for me to put it down and think through it.

I was very pleasantly surprised the first couple weeks of “running” in the Couch to 5K group class. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t keel over. I didn’t love the actual running part, but I loved the warm up, the group, the cool down, and I loved the feeling of accomplishment after it was over. Those first 2-3 weeks I was just so amazed that I was able to do the 60 seconds, then 90 seconds, then 3 minute intervals. I felt very proud of myself and thought, “hey, I might be able to do this after all”.

I have had some struggles and lessons along the way. I suffered with shin splints weeks two and three so I bought compression sleeves for my shins and they eventually went away. I learned the hard way, you do not go on a morning run without some breakfast and hydration; get up earlier. I learned that shady paths are the best, sun on a run is my enemy. Hills are my undoing, and the sad thing is they aren’t even really hills, just bridges or upward slopes on the greenbelt. And I learned that for the most part, each week is the same amount of difficulty. When we were doing a minute and a half, 3 minutes seemed impossible, but then we did it, and then 5 minutes seemed impossible, then we did it, then 8 minutes. But if I had to pick, I did struggle with week 4 the most – this was the introduction of 5 minute intervals. This was the first week I didn’t feel proud of myself after the runs, at least not until I finally nailed that 5 minute streak.

We are now on week 7 – no more intervals! The runs are now twenty-five minutes at a time. And I am noticing a huge change in my attitude the last two weeks. Those first few weeks I felt accomplished, proud and excited I was making progress. My goals going into this were pretty laid back, I set my bar low – just cross the finish line, hopefully run at least half of it. But somewhere along the line I got caught up in…something… the competitiveness with myself or the others…or started feeling cocky, expecting myself to be able to do it. So now I feel disappointed in myself when I cannot run the full time without stopping. I feel grumpy about not making it all the way. I know I shouldn’t feel that way. Before this started I didn’t even know if I could run one minute, and was happy with myself just taking the dog for a walk. I never imagined myself actually running. Now I am up to twenty-minutes on my best day, or more typically ten minutes at a time. So I know I should just be happy I’m moving and being active. It is still great progress for an asthmatic couch potato. Dang you Aries traits that want to be good at it or don’t do it at all. This is why I never did sports as a kid – well besides the constant asthma attacks – I’d try something and if I wasn’t good at it right away, I didn’t like it and didn’t do it again. I don’t want to be that way anymore. I want to push myself. It is all mental. I just need to change my attitude and perspective and be happy for any run time I accomplish.

Running?

Today, Monday March 21, 2016, starts a new chapter in my book. Today I will start running for the first time in my life. On purpose. Yes, RUNNING. Me! This does not sound like me, the asthmatic who had a doctor’s excuse from PE so I wouldn’t have to run. The one that cannot go anywhere without her inhaler. The one that said I would never run unless being chased with a knife and even then I might take my chances. Today I will exercise my God-given right as a woman to change my mind.

Before I gain new perspective on running in the weeks to come, I want to discuss my reasons for finally giving in to the run-bug.

First, I have been wishing for better fitness level and skill, not only to be healthier and more active, but also to be a survivor. Whether it is outrunning a zombie hoard in the apocalypse, outrunning a would be rapist kidnapper, or chasing my dog down the street when he escapes from the front door I need to be able to take care of myself (and those I love) by being capable. I jokingly write down my running goal as “to be able to outrun zombies” even if I don’t actually believe the zombie apocalypse is going to happen. It could be any life or death situation you see in an action movie. I have always felt like I had strong muscles, yet also always felt weak my whole life as to what I can do with this body, like my muscles didn’t know what to do. I had such weak lungs I was always afraid. I knew if my life depending on me running, I was a goner. Like the great move Zombieland says #1 Rule to live by in the apocalypse is CARDIO! So if I can tackle running, this is one more item I can cross off my list of things that make me a weak victim versus a strong survivor. (1st item was being blind – with contacts I would have lasted 4 weeks in the zombie apocalypse, now that I had Lasik and can see without assistance, I totally upped my chances to like 4 months)

The second reason is that I was inspired by a new friend. She took my BFF’s Couch to 5K course this winter. She was not an “athlete” just like I am not an “athlete” and yet she did the course, she did the 5K and I watched her cross the finish line. Her runners high, sense of accomplishment and new-found belief in herself was evident and well worth it. It started me thinking that maybe I could / should stretch myself and go outside my comfort zone too and just maybe I could do something to surprise myself too. So whether I ever run again after this 5K in May is over or not, if I can commit to this, complete this and cross the finish line, then I will have succeeded. Remember, in 2016 the year of Katy, I want to stretch myself, break my own mental boundaries and do more than I ever thought was capable. This is a great first step. I may not be able to control much in this life, its time I control this body instead of it controlling me.

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