I did it! Yesterday, I ran my first official 5K.
Although I knew many of the men and women running since the event was sponsored by the athletic club that I work at part-time, I specifically planned to run the race with my friend Cole. I actually hadn’t seen her in over a year, but we had been talking on Facebook about our shared interest in health and fitness and she mentioned that she would love to run some 5K’s with me. Now, we are officially running buddies.
I picked up our race packets Friday night at the club and laid out all of my clothes for the race. We decided to wear our long-sleeve tech shirts since many of the runners would be doing the same. I know that there is sometimes a stigma about wearing the shirt associated with a race at the actual race, but that didn’t seem to be an issue with this one.
Cole arrived at my house at 8:00am, and we were both admittedly a little nervous. I had planned to get a couple 2-3 mile runs in during the week to round out my “training,” but I had a nasty stomach bug, so I missed out on some running. I managed to down one slice of toast with peanut butter and banana and the rest of my banana. I wasn’t hungry, but I knew that I needed fuel. I also drank a lot of water. I wanted to make sure that I was hydrated. Looking back, I definitely think that I drank too much water too close to the race, because I had to pee twice within an hour of the start and felt the urge to go again for most of the race. Oops!
The race began at the local police department, since 100% of proceeds benefitted the department’s body armor fund. I didn’t really know what to expect when we arrived, since it was my first 5K ever. We got there about 20 minutes early, and everyone was just standing around chatting. Honestly, this kind of made me even more nervous; I just wanted things to get started. Finally, at 9:00am, the woman who organized the race presented a giant check to the police department, we lined up at the start and began running.
The race was small, with only about 100 runners, so it was very informal, but I truly didn’t mind this atmosphere for my first race. Cole and I made a pact that we would stick together, regardless of what happened to either of us. We weren’t running for a specific time; this was our first race, and we would be proud to finish it. Since it was a “fun run,” there wasn’t any official timing, although many runners elected to time themselves. I thought about using the RunKeeper app on my phone, but it couldn’t locate a GPS satellite. Plus, I didn’t really feel like carrying my phone during the race. However, after Cole and I talked, we decided that we would really love to know our time, just for our information. Luckily, another runner that I knew offered us her stopwatch, so we could simply time how long the entire race took us.
Since we both typically run around a 6.0 on the treadmill, we were shooting for ten minute miles which would mean finishing the race in 31:00. We even talked about how awesome it would be to finish it in 30:00, but if it didn’t happen, that would be a future goal. I went back and forth about whether or not to bring my iPod. Ultimately, I decided against it, since I was running with Cole, and I didn’t want to be rude. Typically, however, I run alone, and I always listen to music. I thought that Cole and I would talk more, but honestly, it’s not that easy to carry on a conversation when you are running your a** off. In retrospect, I wish I would have had music to listen to, because it really motivates me. I also hated that I could hear my heavy breathing throughout the race. In fact, think it psyched me out a little. But I do think it was good for me to be a little more aware of what was going on around me. And Cole and I did chat a bit and motivated each other along the way.
I wish I could say that I ran 100% of the race, but I had to take a couple of walking breaks. In all honesty, though, I would say that we only walked one — or maybe one-and-a-half — minutes maximum throughout the entire race, which isn’t too shabby for our first 5K run. The course was really hilly, so there were a couple points in which I just needed to walk for ten or fifteen seconds to catch my breath. Also, because of the way the course was set up, we had to stop a couple of times for traffic; although it provided a sometimes needed break, I didn’t really appreciate it, because when I had a good momentum going, I had to stop, and it was hard to build that momentum back up.
At the start of the race, we knew that we didn’t want to be at the beginning of the pact, so we started more towards the middle. At first, when people started passing us, I felt the urge to speed up, but I resisted. I knew that I needed to pace myself or I would end up burning out, and I think that this turned out to be a fantastic idea. I can’t say for sure, but it seemed as if we were really in the middle of the pact for most of the race, which was a-ok for me. I had no intentions of leading the way and was happy to not be bringing up the rear, although I still would have had no shame, because I was out there doing it!
Every so often during the run, Cole would check the watch and let us know how much time had passed. Since we were shooting for ten minute miles, we used that timing to gauge how far we had run, although we really had no idea if it was accurate. It turned out to be pretty darn close, because we crossed the finish line right at the 31:00 mark. We were so proud! Had we not done a bit of walking or had to stop for traffic, I think we might have been able to hit 30:00, so it is definitely a possibility in the future.
Funny side note: At the very end of the race, we had to cross the final street with stop lights. Right as we approached the light, it turned red. And guess what? I didn’t care. I had just run over three miles and decided that the cars could wait for me. I put my hand out wave a sort of “thanks for waiting” wave and when Cole looked concerned, I shouted “I don’t care!” 🙂 It probably wasn’t the safest idea, but it felt good at the time … and there was obviously a 5K going on, so I hope the drivers understood.
There were a few spectators at the end of the race cheering us on, and that was an awesome feeling. A little boy was giving out high-fives, which I gladly accepted. The race ended at the athletic club where I work. There were bag lunches, homemade granola and nutrition bars, cute little Irish dancers, and beer. 🙂 I had a sip, but it didn’t really hit the spot after a 5K run; I was craving ice cold water. Brad brought Reggie to meet us at the end of the race, and it was the perfect ending to an awesome morning.
In all honesty, the race was hard. I don’t consider myself a “runner,” but I am proud to say that I branched out and did something that challenged me. Around mile two, I remember thinking a couple of things to myself: I have no idea how people run marathons and I am never subjecting myself to this torture again! However, as soon as the race was over, Cole and I began talking about when we could do another. It’s hard to explain, but it’s so rewarding to challenge your body to do something difficult and succeed. I am so lucky for my health, and I want to have it for years and years to come.
Would I ever run a further distance like a 10K or a half-marathon? That is hard to say right now, because I’m just getting started. However, Cole and I are already eyeing up the Summerfest Rock ‘n Sole 5K in June and another 5K that takes place in the city where we both went to high school before the local 4th of July parade. We’ll see what happens …
Have you ever run a 5K? Would you consider it?