I actually completed a 5K run. It’s been one week since my every first 5K and I still can’t believed what happened. After my run I felt like passing out on the road, but I couldn’t stop smiling with glee. Two months ago I could barely run for 60 seconds without stopping, and now I can comfortably jog 20 minutes straight. My face still grimaces during my runs and I have yet to find a suitable playlist, but I can happily call myself a runner.
I’m not quite sure what made me want to start running. I have been trying to start a regular work out routine on and off for the past few years. For some reason I could never stay motivated past a few days. When I was a child I used to exercise on a regular basis. It’s so easy to stay fit when you’re part of a competitive swimming team. I was never the fastest swimmer, and I think that caused me to become disenchanted with the sport. Once I quit swimming at the age of 12 I failed to find a replacement activity, and my weight gradually climbed. For some reason this summer I decided enough was enough. In college, I constantly struggled to walk around the campus (which actually prevented further weight gain) while I was surrounded with fit students running everywhere. It made me feel frustrated. After graduating, things haven’t changed much. At my current job I find myself sitting most of the time which does no favors for my health.
I realized the only way to stop a potential health crisis was to start moving on a daily basis. I considered biking, but since mom had sold my bike, this was not an option. I suddenly remembered Couch to 5K from a failed attempt at running as a teenager. For those who don’t know, Couch to 5K is a running program designed to transform couch potatoes into avid runners within two months. In order to make sure I wouldn’t back down I promptly signed up for a 5K in October. The $40 I paid was non-refundable so quitting was not an option. On my first run I felt like I was going to die. It helped a little to play my favorite K-Pop songs, but I still felt the burn a little too much. This girl was way too weak for a 24 years old. Despite the rough start, I kept up with the routine. Through rain and shine, sickness and health, I carried on jogging. Sometimes a few days were skipped; however, I never restarted the program. Eventually I felt my body strengthen and gain endurance.
Finally, after 8 weeks of preparation, the big day had arrived. My mind was full of nerves as I paced around my room the entire morning. Before the race I ate oatmeal for breakfast and pizza for lunch (which I admit isn’t the healthiest meal). The race site was about 5 minute away form my house so I wasn’t too worried about being late. Within a few hours the English Village Shopping Center was booming with music and filled with excited participants. It didn’t matter that the sky was cloudy, people were just excited to run. For some reason I thought it would be a great idea to bring a water bottle. I tend to get dehydrated quickly, so carrying water around has become a bad habit. Once I arrive at the site I saw nobody had anything in their hands. Awkwardly embarrassed, I quietly placed my bottle on the ground (such a pointless thing to do as I mistakenly picked up a water bottle during the race and ended up carrying it with me the entire time). For the next 30 minutes I confusingly wandered around the shopping center unsure of what to do next. Of course, I’m no stranger to this activity. I pretty much spent most events eating food in a corner (unless I find at least one person to talk with that night).
After much anticipation, the race was ready to commence. My game plan was to jog most of the time and walk towards the finish line if I felt exhausted. Unfortunately, I severely overestimated my stamina and my ability to run uphill. It turns out during my Couch to 5K program I was running for time and not distance. I had no idea 3 miles was so long! Eventually I ended up alternating between a brisk jog and slow-ish talk. I did manage to run whenever I saw a camera/cheering squad, so at least I look consistent on film. I already started towards the end of the line so it was disheartening to see more people pass me by the minute. I know 5Ks are about personal bests, but I had no desire to be in last place.
In the end I placed several spots above last place with a time of 45 minutes flat. As I crossed the finished line I sat down on a corner and panted for at least 5 minutes straight. Luckily, the organizers had post-race food to help with hunger (like tomato pies and hummus with chips). I also learned I still can’t stand the taste of beer (regardless of its supposed pumpkin flavor). After arriving home I realized a few valuable lessons.
- Don’t listen to music during the 5K
- Don’t wear hats during the 5K
- Train on actually 5K trails from now until my next race (Thanksgiving day!)
- Get better running shoes (was accosted by dad about this during the drive home)
- Learn to push my body to its limits
I didn’t place last, finished with a time under 60 minutes, and didn’t pass out so I think most of my goals were accomplished. Even better I learned to love exercising. I have no idea what the Turkey Trot will hold for me in one month, but I can’t wait to start training again.