Become a Runner! Part 3: I DID IT! My first 5k race

Click to read Become a Runner!  Part 1 and Part 2.

I ran my very first 5k race this morning! Check me out!

Woke up at 7:30, thirty minutes before my alarm. Pre-race jitters?  Took my time getting up, had tea, got dressed, stepped out into the PERFECT fall weather: sunny, a nice chill but not too cold, light breeze.  Beautiful day for a run!  Banana in hand, my four-person cheering squad and I headed over to the race registration and festivities.  It's the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis, and all runners received jingle bells to tie into our laces, fun!  Registered, put on my bib--#230--and got ready.  The closer it got to 9:30, the more my heart began to race all on its own.  Outside, in the crowd, on your mark, get set, go!  The horn blared and I took off.

As an amateur, I definitely didn't pace myself properly, but tried to get a feel for it.  At the starting line, I was surrounded by excitement and real competitive runners, so I went much more quickly than I should have.  Remembering what my cousin Stephanie told me, I consciously tried to slow myself down so that I would be able to keep pace and run harder in the second and third mile.  My music kept me going, as did my cheering squad, which popped up to wave and take my gloves at three different points between the start and 2-mile marker.  It was also fun hearing the jingles, the bells on all the runners' feet.  How was I doing? It was hard to tell.  As I reached the 2 miles, someone announced it'd been 18 minutes, not too bad!  I kept going, pushing harder.  The third mile was the hardest, and I began to struggle. Keep goooing!  The roads were fairly flat, but there were a few slight inclines, plus the wind pushing against me hard.  On I went, just waaaiting to see the finish line.  Heart pumping full speed, I was ready to finish, ha.  Oh look, there I go:
I'm just to the left of the flag, see?

Read on to see how I placed, plus tips for working toward your own race. 

At last: victory!  I crossed the finish line at 28:09--almost two full minutes below my goal time!  "I did it!" was all I could say through my smile.  I felt great, then slightly sick for just a moment before drinking my water and walking in circles. Ah, mission accomplished.  I'm still beaming. Even got a 3rd place medal for my age-group! Regardless, it felt so good to set a goal, to commit myself to something, and to actually DO IT.  What a feeling!!! 
Although I’m certainly proud of myself for going from an anti-runner to a 5k-runner, these posts aren’t meant to brag. I’m not special; I didn’t do anything you can’t do, too.  My story just goes to show that you never know what you’re capable of until you actually challenge yourself.
After years of saying, “I’m not a runner,” I finally let go of my fear of failure.  I put myself out there, set my mind to a goal, and accomplished it. 

Maybe I can be a runner, after all! 

What about you?  How do you feel about running?  On a treadmill or in the great outdoors?  If you don’t run or exercise, please get started!  There are so many ways to begin a running routine.  If you’re new to running like I am was, here are some tips and tricks to get started:
  • Set mini-goals: Running Goals for Beginners (at Fitsugar)
  • Measure out miles in your neighborhood at Map My Run or  Running Map
  • Get a pedometer -- this is a great way to track progress whether you're walking or running.
  • 4 ways to a better runner:
  • iPod Shuffle - Apple's lightweight, no-nonsense way to take your music with you! 
  • Good music to put ON that iPod! - You can make your own playlist (that's what I do), choosing songs with quick beats to keep your feet moving, as well as motivational lyrics that keep your mind engaged.  You can also find great workout playlists online at OhSheGlows, Shape, She Knows, and more. Just Google it! 
  • Download a program to transform you from a walker into a runner, like Personal Running Trainer's "8 Weeks to 5k" or Cool Running's "Couch to 5k".  The "8 Weeks to 5k" program is great because it plays right on your iPod, with a trainer telling you exactly when to walk and when to run, with a generic musical beat in the background.  In both programs, you'll progress from mostly walking with some short bursts of running, to walking and running equal intervals, to running the whole 5k. 
  • Sneakers!  Invest in a quality pair of running shoes.  I'm happy with my Asics, but go to your local Foot Locker and talk to the salesperson to help determine which sneaker is best for YOU. 

Hope those help!  A 5k used to seem a long way away for me, but I did it simply because I told myself I could.  AH, I can't believe it's over.... til the next one?

You never know what your body is capable of if you set your mind to it.  Go for a walk, jog, or run, and see how far you can go.  You might just surprise yourself, and either way, you’ll only get better with practice.  I did it, so can you.  I dare you!

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