Two months ago I got an email from my good friend asking me if I wanted to run a 5k that her work puts on for employees, friends and family. I sat on that email for five hours before I finally realized that I had no good reason to say no! I was immediately nervous and unsure how I could possibly run a 5k. I’m embarrassed to say that before that day, I hadn’t worked out in months. I walk the dog most nights and do a lot of walking at work, but that was the extent of my exercise routine. Pretty pathetic.
That night, I downloaded a couch to 5k app on my iPhone (this one). Here’s what the logo looks like:
Having technology to push you through your workouts helps a ton, but it’s not necessary. This particular couch to 5k program takes eight weeks to complete, three workouts per week, all in 25-40 minutes. Very manageable. There are many couch to 5k programs out there that help you gradually increase your running stamina. This is a very popular one.
I also eventually started using a Map my Run app to help me keep track of mileage and pace.
For the first few weeks of training, I stuck to my treadmill. I was too nervous to run outside because I had tried it before and thought it was incredibly hard. Finally, after weeks of my runner friends telling me I had to get outside, I did it. On April 12th, I laced up my sneakers and set out on a straight, flat trail near my house. I ran/walked for 3.03 miles in 38:53 minutes. That’s a pace of 12:53/min. I was shocked. I had done it, and it was pretty darn decent!
After that first run on the trail, I was excited to get back outside. I haven’t stepped foot on the treadmill since because running outside definitely is easier and way more interesting.
I mainly run on the Gateway State Trail or around Lake Phalen. I feel safe and comfortable in these places, but I know I should really branch out. I’m getting kind of bored. Although, Phalen is really beautiful!
So after seven weeks of training, logging about 10 miles/per week, it was finally time to do the 5k. I felt ready. I had worked hard and never missed a training session. The only real problem I experienced while running was that my right foot would consistently fall asleep during runs. It usually happened about 20 minutes in and would last until I stopped running and stomped my foot on the ground. It was awful and frustrating, but then I realized that it was probably happening because of ill-fitting shoes. I switched back to my old pair, and the sleepy foot syndrome stopped. Phew.
The race was on May 5th at the General Mills Campus in Plymouth, Minnesota. It was cool and drizzling out, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I had a nervous tummy, but managed to eat some toast with peanut butter and banana.
We had about a half an hour of standing around time before the race started, so naturally we did a photo shoot.
Finally, it was time to start the race! The faster people start closer to the front, so I moved my way back towards the end of the crowd. All of us had goals that we hoped to meet, and since my goal (finishing under 40 minutes) was the slowest of the group, I knew I’d be running alone, and I was ok with that.
I started the race feeling pretty good, but noticed that it was kind of hard to breathe. I found out later that it was 80% humidity that day, so that definitely affected me. I ran the whole first mile without stopping. As soon as I passed the first mile marker, I had to stop and walk. I was really disappointed because I was already feeling tired. Way more tired than I normally would after one mile. But I soldiered on and ran as much as I could. There were more inclines on the course than I was used to, and that slowed me down as well.
At mile two there was a water stop. At that point, I had started to get a light side ache, so water sounded terrible to me. I had two small sips and tossed the rest.
Between miles two and three there was a large hill. I walked up it and tried to take deep breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth. My side was absolutely killing me, and my ankle was starting to hurt as well. I was in bad shape, but I just kept telling myself, the faster you go the faster you’ll finish. I picked up some speed through the end of the second mile and decided to walk for the last time when I was almost to the finish line. I wanted to be able to run down the whole chute, and finish strong. As soon as I turned the corner, I started to hear cheers and heard my friends yell my name. I was almost done!
Always be sure to smile for cameras on the race course!
I finally crossed the finish line in 35:05. I am proud of that time. I wish I would’ve had more energy left at the end, so I could have sprinted and finished under 35 minutes, but I gave that race all that I had.
Overall, I had a great experience, and I can’t wait to run my next race. I’m signed up for a 4k at the end of June and another 5k at the end of August. Having races to train for is the best motivation. Nothing else has worked for me, so I’m going to stick to it. I am so proud of myself, and I can’t wait to see what I can do next!