A Success (Sort Of)

So early last week, my husband reminded me that the March of Dimes Night Moves 5K was approaching at the end of the week. And that he had signed us both up for it.
Wow, September 16 sure arrived quickly.
I had forgotten about it. I knew Aaron was training for the 5K, and I had agreed to sign up for it, too, but then life and work and my need for sleep got in the way and I put it out of my mind. So as Friday approached I realized that I wasn’t ready for this at all. I haven’t put on my running shoes since before BlogHer. I haven’t even done any kind of workout in a few weeks. In short: I was going to suck at this.
The day of the event was even worse. In a pure fit of denial, I only took a 2 hour nap after getting home from working all night and then decided I wanted to stay up for the afternoon so I could get some house cleaning done. Again, I forgot about that 5K we were doing that night.
Finally it was 5pm and Aaron went upstairs to change into his running shorts. Oh yeah, we’re supposed to go to a 5K, aren’t we? I trudged upstairs, still tired from a lack of sleep, and pulled on some workout gear. It didn’t help that it was supposed to be cold that night – do I dress warm, or will I be too warm?
At the race, I still wasn’t feeling it. Aaron planned to run the entire way, and I was ready to cheer him on. But I was doubting my own contributions to the run. I decided I would run/walk the race, probably with a strong emphasis on walking. This was the same 5K where I ran the entire thing last year – I was fully prepared to be disappointed with myself this time.
Blurry photo of us – it was already getting dark and cold.
The bell sounded and the pack took off. It was chilly out at this point so I decided running would be the best way to start, if for no other reason than to keep warm. I ran for about a half mile before I needed to slow to a walk. Two minutes later I felt good enough to run again, but my stamina was quickly fading. I passed the one mile mark and was surprised that I had a 14 minute mile.

The second mile was even more walking, with occasional urges to vomit when I did run. My side ached so I tried to take it easy and focus on my breathing. I passed the second mile marker and again had another 14 minute mile. How was that even possible?

I was determined to not just walk the final mile and a bit, but I had practically no energy left. I used a section of road that sloped downward as one stretch of running, allowed the lack of incline to work to my advantage. And then with the end in sight I ran the final block, crossing the finish line with a time just over 44 minutes.

Aaron found me in the crowd, and I had to grab his arm to keep from falling over. One Gatorade later and I felt a little less wobbly, although still very exhausted.

(Aaron ran the entire race in under 28 minutes – go him!)

At the time, I thought I was less than a minute off from my time last year. I looked back through this blog, though, and realized I was actually three minutes slower than my time last year.

But still…only three minutes slower than last year, where I ran the entire race, and when I had prepared for it and got plenty of sleep beforehand and actually remembered the damn race? Not bad.

Of course, this does nothing for my motivation. After all, if I can run/walk a 5K with 2 hours of sleep and no training or preparation ahead of time and STILL only be three minutes off of my running time, why bother training?

Just kidding.

Well, mostly.

I was proud of myself for finishing, even with everything going against me. It’s good to know that even without working out for a few weeks, my body hasn’t forgotten everything I’ve been trying to teach it. And maybe I will start pushing myself to run again so I can shave a few minutes off of my next 5K.

Although at the moment I’m dealing with the one downside to taking on a 5K with no training: I can’t move my legs. I don’t think my legs and hips have ever hurt this much. Lesson learned.

Did I Mention I Ran A 5K?

So I completely forgot to mention last week that I ran a 5K on May 14. I know, who forgets to brag about something like that, right?

Actually, I went into it with the intent to walk most of the 5K. I was mostly supporting my husband, who has been training for the past 3 months and decided the Komen Race for the Cure 5K was going to be where he put himself to the test.

During that 3 month period, Aaron taught himself how to run, lost 20+ pounds (he’s totally kicking my butt in weight loss), and was ready to take on his first 5K. During that same time frame, I went to my bootcamp classes, ran a couple of times, lost a couple of pounds, and well…didn’t do anything nearly as impressive as him.

On the day of the race, I lined up with the non-competitive runners. I haven’t had the chance to run more than a day here and there lately, so I didn’t expect that I was even going to make it further than a few blocks without needing to stop for a walk. Aaron was ahead of me with the competitive runners. He didn’t expect to place in the race, but he wanted the timing chip so he could see his exact finishing time.

When the bell sounded, I pressed play on my iPod, took a deep breath, and started the run. I was helped by the amazing energy of the people around me – they were all so happy and excited. (Me at 8am? Less so.) The first few blocks were a bit of start and stop as the crowd needed time to thin out. I tried to stay to the side because I was a slower runner and didn’t want to be in anyone’s way.

Quickly I realized my iPod was going to be trouble. It has a problem where the songs will “scramble” when the headphones are in, meaning it’ll play a few seconds of the song, then scramble the song on high speed for a few seconds, then shift to another song, where it does the same thing. So I found myself jogging slowly while trying to hard reset my iPod, put the headphones back in, and try again. It gave me a few songs in a row before it would scramble again, but those few songs were better than nothing. I need music to distract myself from the reality of running.

We made the first turn, and I was surprised I was still running. Then the second turn came two blocks later and I was hurting, but still running. A huge hill was in front of me, though, and I realized I couldn’t make it up the hill. I stopped to walk, a little disappointed, but also reassured by seeing others slow down to walk up the hill.

Once we reached the top of the hill, I decided to go back to running. My lungs ached at the greater effort again, and although I couldn’t hear it over my music, I’m sure I sounded wheezy as I gasped for air. This part of the run was slightly downhill and after a couple of minutes I finally fell into a comfortable pattern. I was still working hard, but I wasn’t hurting.

The next leg of the race took us around a local park. My side was starting to hurt again, so I made a deal with myself that I’d walk when I reached the north end of the park. I kept that agreement, slowing down to walk along the entire north end of the park.

As we made the final turn for the (long) home stretch, a guy in a lobster costume passed me by as I was walking. I’m being passed by a lobster? Surely I can run again if this guy in a full-body costume is still running!

I forced myself to run again, but at this point it was getting hard. During the final stretch I took a couple of short walk breaks, just to catch my breath, and then threw myself forward into running slowly again.

I didn’t see my exact time when I crossed the finish line, but I believe it was somewhere around 44-45 minutes. Not a great time, of course, but only slightly longer than the 5K I trained for back in the fall.

While I had planned to walk most of this 5K, I instead ran most of it and only walked a small portion. I was exhausted at the end, but proud of doing more than I had intended.

And Aaron? He finished at 30 minutes, which is a very respectable time for his first 5K run. I’m proud of him for accomplishing his goal and getting so fit in the process. Hopefully we can both find time to run during the summer and sign up for other 5K races.

Again, if I can do this, anyone can. It just takes baby steps to do so. Had you told me five years ago that I’d be running in a 5K, I would have laughed at you. Yet it’s happened, thanks to making small changes here and there.

March of Dimes Night Moves 5K Results

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.

Pre-race posing

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.

Me & Brooke, post-race. I’m impressed I’m standing.

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.

The 5K Looming Ahead of Me

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with the 25 minute mark in running. Ever since BlogHer I’ve managed to run a full 25 minutes straight only a couple of times, and other times my legs have given out at the 22 or 23 minute instead. It’s been frustrating.

But Monday night, I set out to do a 25 minute run again, and a funny thing happened: I ran for 28 minutes – the next step on Couch to 5K. I’d like to say I did it due to great stamina and mental conditioning, but the truth is far more humble and a little funny.

As I looked at my iPhone and realized I had less than a minute left to run, I noticed two of my neighbors walking up ahead of me, going the same direction I was. At 20 seconds left, a quick calculation in my head made me realize that if I went into my cool down walk right at 25 minutes, I’d be stopping roughly at the same spot they were at. Which would mean I’d likely have to talk to them. We don’t get along all that well, and I really wasn’t in the mood to talk, anyway.

So I kept running. I ran right past them, my huffing and puffing a perfectly good excuse to not say hello or even acknowledge them as I focused on putting one foot in front of the other. I had to make sure I got far enough away before slowing to a walk – to keep it from looking obvious – so I gritted my teeth through the pain in my side and finished 28 minutes of running.

Social awkwardness: who knew it was such a great motivator?

This Friday I’ll be running in the March of Dimes Night Moves 5K. My hope was to run this one entirely, but I know I’m not quite ready for that yet, so I plan to run as much as possible and be proud just to finish. Well, that’s the plan, but I’m worried that I’ll come away disappointed if I don’t put in a certain level of performance, too.

As much as I want to run an entire 5K, I know that my body is still adjusting to the idea of being a runner. It will happen, though, and I’m hoping that the excitement of being at a 5K race again will push me to go a little further without walking.

Hey, I did 28 minutes straight, right? Maybe I just need to imagine the people in front of me are my neighbors who might want to have an awkward talk?

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