Hello. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Carol. For those of you who do, I’m the Flash.
The Lead-Up to the 5K
In the week leading up to the 5K, I made two mistakes:
- Completed a strength training work-out.
- Decided to run during midday when the temperature was 80+º.
On the first day, I ran a full 35 minutes nonstop, which I’m very proud of. However, on the next day I was expected to run, the heavens decided to open and released a mega storm upon the land. I thought, “I could just exercise inside. Maybe I’ll work on my strength today…” Just trying to make the best of a bad situation. Bad idea. After my 20 minute strength training, I couldn’t move. The pain was all encompassing. Walking hurt, sitting hurt, even standing still hurt. I started stressing that I wouldn’t be better in time for the 5K. I ended up being fine. Now I know not to switch up my exercise routine days before a big race!
The next sunny day, I thought it would be a good idea to run outside around midday. Remember how I said in a previous blog post that I would start running in the morning? Guess how that went. Spoiler alert: it didn’t happen at all. I wanted to get this run over with so I could relax the rest of the day. Now in Florida, midday is just about the hottest part of the day, especially in Summer. Why I thought it would be a good idea, I’ll never know. I ran about 20 minutes before I bailed and jumped in the pool instead. Because of that run, I was now worried about my still-aching muscles and whether I’d be ready to run an ENTIRE 5K. I tried not to think about it too much, but I was definitely nervous. Then Monday came along…
The Run for the Pineapple 5K
The morning of the race, my family was up at 5am. My mom couldn’t sleep at all. I slept like a rock. Molly and Dad were forced to wake up with us, so they could share the experience, just in a different way. I drank a bunch of water, ate a banana, and stretched as best I could in the morning. Then, we all jumped in the car and made our way to Sewell’s Point.
We arrived around 6:15, which gave us about 30 minutes before we had to meet at the starting line. Mom and I made good use of our time by going for a short walk (like we do before every run), and stretching some more. We were both very nervous. Mom and I made sure to explain to each other that we were here for ourselves. We aren’t racing the 500 other racers, we are racing past versions of ourselves that wouldn’t have even made it this far. In that way, we already won. But we paid the admission fee, got the T-shirt and all, so we kinda had to run the darn thing.
The 500 runners were finally escorted to the starting line where we waited for a couple minutes. Mom and I were toward the front of the crowd, so we felt like we had a good head start to begin with. Then we heard someone yell “Have a great race!” and we were off. It wasn’t long until we lost our place toward the front of the pack. There were plenty of people who ran faster than us beginners. Within the first mile, I was passed by many runners, women with strollers, dogs, and children. Children were passing me! I could handle them, but the worst people were the sprint-than-walkers. They would sprint as fast as they could past me, then stop just feet ahead to walk for a bit. I’d have enough time to dodge them before they started sprinting again, then I’d have to dodge them again! Just stick with a speed or get away from me! I’m running here!!
I was able to run the first 2 miles nonstop, but I had to stop twice during the third mile. There were a lot more hills that I’m used to! It was a tiring trek up and down those hills. I heard a father telling his sons to use their body weight to get down the hills faster. I tried that, but just about lost my balance. I don’t think it would have counted if I rolled down the hill. Thankfully, Mom was right there with me the entire time. Her routine was to run 5 minutes then walk a bit. She had been having trouble with her calf recently, so she wanted to take it slowly and finish, rather than go as fast as she can and risk hurting her leg more. I kept running when she started walking (hey, she told me to. I didn’t desert her), but she would always run to catch up with me. I began to slow down, she would slow down too. I told her to run ahead but she didn’t. We promised to run together as much as we could, and she did just that. I have the best mom.
When we rounded the final turn to the finish line, we kicked it into overdrive. We were almost done. It’s time for us to finish strong. Five months of training leading up to this very moment. For some reason, when I saw Molly and Dad cheering us on, I decided to do a Rockette’s style kick. I think it was because I was happy it was almost over, but I can’t be positive. What’s worse is NO ONE SAW IT! I did an amazing kick with perfect form (if I do say so myself), and no one saw it. Devastated. I really am.
Mom and I ran toward the finish line hand in hand. We started this journey together, so it’s only fitting that we finished it together. We were given finisher medals, cold towels, water, and a chance to ring the Personal Record bell. I’d run races more often if it meant I got to ring a bell after my victory! After that, we went home for a family breakfast and well deserved naps. Mom and I were able to ran the 5K in 42:40. We placed 394th and 395th out of 476 finishers. WE WEREN’T LAST!! What’s more is I ranked 12th out of 13 females between 20-24. STILL NOT LAST!! I know it’s not the best but that just means there is more room for improvement. Did I mention we weren’t last place. That is a personal best! I got to ring a bell for it, too.
(not last place)
What I’ve Learned/ Tips
- Runner’s Knee is common when you first start running. Give it a bit of time to recover.
- Loosen up when you are running. Tension never helped anyone.
- Start off by setting short-term goals for yourself. You’ll feel better about yourself and will be more likely to keep going.
- That also means to take your time. Miracles don’t happen overnight.
- Running conditions and discomfort are about the same in the morning as they are in the afternoon.
- Drink lots of water and stretch before running.
- Don’t run on a full stomach.
- Running is good for physical health and mental health.
- Runner’s High is a thing.
- Running is not good for building strength. However it is great for endurance and killer calf muscles.
- Don’t start strength training the week before a 5K!
- Most importantly: Avoid butt cramps at all costs!
And now question time: Will I keep running? Sure. Will I run another 5K? Maybe. Overall, I’m really proud of myself and especially my mom. I don’t regret anything about this experience, not even the fan kick that no one saw (still bitter about that). Sure, I didn’t run the entire 5K, but I completed a very good portion of it! Looking back at my older posts from the beginning of this year, it’s crazy to thing that I couldn’t even run a minute! I was very out of shape. Now that I have running a 5K under my belt, I feel a little more adventurous. Maybe I’ll take up dancing again, or skiing, or karate. Who knows? If you are thinking of starting a Couch to 5K training program, I will gladly be the program’s poster child. It really works! If I can do it, I know you can too.
Until next time,