After the BlogHer 5K, I knew I needed to sign up for another 5K to keep me motivated or I’d simply stop exercising like I did a year ago.
I signed up for the March of Dimes Night Moves 5K for a few reasons. First, it benefits March of Dimes, a charity I have always supported. Second, it was at night, and since I work third shift I tend to do better running on a nocturnal schedule.
A few weeks ago I suffered a back injury that made it difficult to run for a little while. My training slowed as a result and I continued to be stuck at 25 minutes of running max. Last week I did manage one 28 minute run, but only to avoid social interactions. So I knew going into this race that it was nearly certain I’d be walking for part of it. My motto was “Just don’t finish last.”
Friday night the area around Front Street was packed with people, and I immediately felt excited when I walked into the plaza and saw the crowd. After I picked up my shirt and goody bag, I changed into my shirt and began stretching for the race.
Shortly after that, Brooke found me. She left a comment here last week saying she would be running this 5K as well, and I told her I hoped she would come find me. Thankfully she did and I quickly made a new blog pal! We talked about how neither of us had run a full 5K, and decided we’d run together. I warned her I was slow and gave her full permission to leave me in the dust if I started walking. (To be fair, she gave me the same permission, but I thought it doubtful that she would be slower than me.)
We cheered on the 5-mile racers as they started before the 5K runners, and then took our place in the pack. The run started on a hill – going up, of course – but the crowd was buzzing with excitement and as we started running I watched as other people darted around us. I was determined to keep it slow and steady, though, and not overdo it at the beginning. Brooke was kind enough to slow down and stay with me.
Everything felt great for the first mile or so. I fell into a good breathing pattern, and even managed to pass a few people who were already walking.
The second mile was harder, though. I started to reach the threshold of my running limits, and felt that sharp ache in my side. I tried altering my breathing to force it to go away, and it would help for awhile, but then it came back again. I could now start to hear my breathing over my music. My right shoulder started to hurt, too. The urge to walk was becoming stronger, but Brooke was still running, so I was determined to stay with her.
The last mile – especially the last half mile – was pain, pure and simple. My side hurt, my shoulder hurt, my lungs burned, and I felt like I was going to throw up. When we made the final turn towards the finish line, I wondered if I could make it or not. On one hand, I could see the finish line way up ahead, so it seemed silly to stop running now when I was so close. On the other hand, panic was beginning to set in and I wondered if I’d black out before I made it to the finish line. I could easily hear my breathing over the music now, which meant people a quarter mile away could likely hear it as well. I sounded like I was drowning in my own mucous.
With the finish line only a few blocks away, I made my mind up to finish this damn race running. Of course, that then meant I had to convince my body to go along with what my mind decided. I’m sure I was grunting at this point as I had to mentally force my feet to keep moving, force my arms to keep swinging, and force my body to move forward. I know I was swearing at myself to keep going.
And then at 41 minutes and 4 seconds, I crossed the finish line. Running. I didn’t plan this accomplishment – I thought myself several weeks away from graduating from the couch to 5K program. Yet there it was: I ran an entire 5K.
How did I feel after the run? Mostly happy that it was over, honestly. I had to sit down and suck in some air for a little while to feel OK again, and my legs still felt wobbly for the rest of the night.
I woke up the next day feeling like I’d been hit by a car. Everything hurt – especially my back and sides. I guess my next goal will be to work on relaxing while running so I’m not so tense.
Big thanks to Brooke for running with me – I strongly doubt I would’ve kept running without seeing her still running beside me.
Up next? Well, I want to keep working on my distance, as I doubt I’ll be able to repeat that 5K in my own neighborhood with no one running next to me and no race to participate in. So I’ll go back to C25K and keep slowly working up my time. I might start working some intervals back in as well, trying to increase my speed just a wee bit.
And I’ve already selected my next 5K – the Fright Night 5K in October. Nothing like running through a haunted graveyard and woods at night to keep you moving!
Believe me, folks – if I can do this, you can, too. I used to be the lump on the couch, the woman circling the parking lot for 10 minutes to get the slightly closer parking spot. It’s not easy, but it is possible.