GOING THE DISTANCE (CLICK ME!)
I've posted this photo so you can see I am a REAL woman, not skinny, not perfect, not quite fit (yet) but I did it and so can you!
Hello Gentle Readers,
It has been some time since I last wrote. This is mainly due to being gainfully employed, which I find has definitely interfered with my family life, my social life and my farting around on the internet life. Alas, as promised, I am here to report the details of my big race on 9/10.
For those of you who are new to the blog or didn't hear, I ran my first 5K on 9/10. This may sound like no big whoop, but for me, a former slug and celebrated potato, it is a huge deal. I began the Couch to 5K program around the beginning of July. I was hardly able to run the 60 second intervals during week 1, but amazingly, by the end of week 10, I was able to run a full 35 minutes without stopping.
About 5 weeks into the program, I decided to sign up for a 5K, which would not only make it more real, it would, in the words of a wise friend, make me look like a "big fat liar" if I didn't follow through. To be sure, I was very nervous because I was barely halfway through the program and was nowhere near 5K status.
Despite these fears, which haunted me right up until the week of the race, it was time to do it. My best prior to the race was 2.6 miles in 35 minutes. SLOW. Slow but respectable considering I am pretty hefty to begin with, have never exercised consistently and just had a baby in February. I had serious reservations about whether I would be able to finish because I'd only made the aforementioned time and distance, a full .5 below 5K.
RACE DAY! Overcast (thank you LORD!) and sort of low to mid-70's, it was really about as good as it gets for running weather in early September. I met with my friend Heather and her sister Leanne, who were also running the race. They are both younger, more fit and slimmer than I, so I knew that they'd get ahead of me and we'd planned to just meet up at the end, come what may. My mom, husband and the two little ones were there too - my own suburban entourage.
We were corralled by a buoyant arc of white, green and teal balloons, which was a starting gate of sorts. At the signal of the horn, we burst through the arc onto a beautiful path winding around the Memorial Hall building in Philadelphia. It was immediately evident to me that most of the others in the race were "real runners", because I soon found myself near the absolute end of the runner group, trailed by a woman with a jogging stroller and a few little kids in tow and a couple who consisted of a "real runner" and his lady friend, who seemed to be a beginner like me.
I was slightly disheartened by this because I had assumed that I would not be first in the race, but I didn't imagine being almost dead last either. Realizing that I needed to quickly dismiss this psychological hindrance, I told myself that it was much easier to run in the open without a lot of sweaty people surrounding me on all sides. Yeah, that was the ticket!
As I continued along the winding race trail, I forgot about the others and began to enjoy the feeling of - GASP - running a 5K race. I was running a 5K race! For real - with a balloon arc and a number pinned to my chest! I was a runner! Not one footfall of that race was walked. Not one.
With every epic journey, there are epic obstacles to accompany it. The main ones I encountered include:
*dodging muddy patches of muck left over from the flooding of Hurricane Irene (remember I am a faller)
*leaping (well, relatively) over bramble and branches littering the trail from the storm (remember I am a faller)
*a short, compact woman who kept running, then walking, then running again when she would see me out of the corner of her eye (as if to say - I'm not letting HER ahead of me)
*the mortification of having to ask the 1.5 mile walk participants which direction the runners had taken because I was THAT far behind them all
Despite these impediments, I finally spied that latex beacon ahead of me - the balloon arc! This was it! I was going to finish this thing. Pressing on with resolve, I slowed up as I triumphantly raised my arms and passed under the balloons. Unfortunately, I was greeted by my family and friends shouting and waving that I had to run another 75 yards or so ahead to the clock, which would record my time.
With a shout of "Oh crap!" I soldiered on, noting the time was at 33 minutes and some odd seconds. With that, I sprinted (as best as I could after all that running) ahead to the clock, determined to make it through in under 34 minutes. I sailed through at 33:50 - a personal best. I'd run .5 mile more than ever before in more than a minute less than my best time and distance.
Satisfied, sweaty, and slightly nauseous, I returned to my family for pictures and hearty congratulations and high fives. Since I was so near the end, they had run out of water, so we headed to the car and my dear husband set the course for my reward. About 25 minutes later, I was chowing down on a Pat's Cheesesteak from 9th and Passyunk. As everyone knows, this is fuel for bodies of all types. As I took a swig of my birch beer, I resolved to run it again next year.
Goal? Under 30 minutes next time. I am a work in progress after all.